Appalachian Trail Origins
Ambience: walking on trail
Every year, thousands of people head out on the Appalachian Trail. Over two thousand miles long, it is one of North America’s most famous and beautiful hikes. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Marion: The Appalachian Trail is one of the very first national scenic and recreational trails as designated by congress. It was conceived by a gentlemen by the name of Benton McKay and he envisioned a simple footpath from Maine to Georgia.
Research biologist Jeff Marion.
Marion: The path was chosen by a fairly large number of individuals. They they wanted to keep it at the height of the land. They wanted to keep it up at the sort of the spine of the Appalachian Mountains. So it generally does traverse the height of the land — the ridges, the mountain tops and such. It also drops down and crosses valleys and goes through communities. And one of the issues that Benton McKay thought was very important was having the folks who hike the Appalachian Trail interconnect with the local folks that live along the Appalachian Trail and perhaps get out there and get to know people in these local communities. That was very much part of his vision.
I think that the Congress and Benton McKay wanted to create a trail that would get people from cities out into the countryside, out into the woods — get them out hiking and the physical and mental benefits that would ensue from from an active population of hikers. He wanted people from the city to experience the countryside and the simple living that goes on in the Appalachian communities that the trail traverses.
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