The Appalachian Trail follows the crest of the Appalachian Mountains for more than 2,100 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Although other people had put forth similar ideas, a 1921 magazine article by Benton MacKaye is generally regarded as having provided the impetus for the trail.
In October 1923, the first miles to be built for the Appalachian Trail were opened in Harriman-Bear Mountain State Park, New York. On August 14, 1937, the final section was constructed in central Maine. A remarkable aspect of the trail is that nearly every bit of effort expended on its behalf has been done by volunteers. Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the organization overseeing volunteer efforts, estimates that more than four million people annually enjoy some portion of the trail.
The trail comes in contact with southeastern West Virginia a few miles east of Peterstown, Monroe County. Traversing Peters Mountain along the West Virginia- Virginia border, it zigzags along the state line for close to 13 miles. This stretch offers commanding views of waves of Allegheny Mountain summits from Rice Field and Symms Gap Meadow. Before dropping off the mountain into Virginia, the trail passes the southern terminus of the Allegheny Trail, West Virginia’s premier long-distance pathway.
In the Eastern Panhandle, the Appalachian Trail again follows a ridgeline weaving along the West Virginia-Virginia border, this time east of Charles Town. About four miles are located entirely in West Virginia. Stone foundations seen along the pathway are vestiges of fortifications from the Civil War. Dropping into the state, and passing pits and ditches from the charcoal producing days of the 1800s, the trail crosses the Shenandoah River and enters Harpers Ferry, headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conference. The Appalachian Trail leaves West Virginia and enters Maryland by crossing the Potomac River.
This Article was written by Leonard M. Adkins
Last Revised on March 07, 2013
Adkins, Leonard M. The Appalachian Trail. Birmingham: Menasha Ridge Press, 1998.
Albright, Jack, ed. Appalachian Trail Guide to Central Virginia. Harpers Ferry: Appalachian Trail Conference, 1994.
Golightly, Jean C., ed. Appalachian Trail Guide to Maryland and Northern Virginia. Vienna, VA: Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, 1995.