1,000 Hikers Heading NoBo on the Appalachian Trail in March?

Our pal, Ron Brown, holding The Book at Amicalola Falls State Park, at the base of Springer Mountain in Georgia, where thru-hikers proclaim their intention to hike the entire Appalachian Trail. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Ron Brown, holding The Book at Amicalola Falls State Park ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Once upon a time there was a pretty path in the woods that hardly anybody knew about. If you were a big, strong outdoors man (or an old lady with a shower curtain and Keds) you might have been one of the people who walked on this almost-secret trail.

Every year, right around the first day of spring, these really tough men and average girls would set out, all alone, to walk in the spooky, lonely wilderness.

The trail began in Georgia and went all the way north for more than 2,000 miles -- way longer than it takes to go to Gramma's house -- and it ended up on the highest mountain in the State of Maine. That's where moose live and where people drive things called "snow machines" instead of motorcycles for most of the year.

Today, that path is known as the Appalachian Trail. It still begins on Springer Mountain in Georgia and ends atop Katahdin in Maine's Baxter State Park.

The trickle of hikers who used to hit the Trail in springtime has grown into an insane horde. As of 11 AM, March 24, 2016, our pal Devon at the Visitor Center at Amicalola Falls State Park (AFSP) told us 980 hikers heading NoBo have signed The Thru-Hiker Book this year. Back on March 1st, there were already 300 hopefuls logged in. There will be WAY over 1,000 signed in by the time you read this.

Purists will tell you The Thru-Hiker Book at AFSP is primarily for hikers who take the approach trail and climb El Stairso de Muerte -- 600+ stairs aside a lovely waterfall that will make you question how you can reach the top of the falls, let alone travel 2,000 additional miles, should you survive. There's another log book tucked under a rock at Springer Mountain (would I lie to you?) that folks who skip the approach trail sign.

We don't have the exact number -- no one does -- but we can say with certainty that thru-hikers can abandon all hope of piddling or pooping without an audience for the next six months. And be careful where you step while seeking such solitude.

If you'll be hitting the Trail soon, please wait your turn in line and merge onto it carefully.

Ain't the wilderness great!!!

Tags: Attractions, Tourism, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Conservation, Hikers, Information, appalachian trail hikers, thru-hikers appalachian trail, and number of hikers appalachian trail

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
Related Articles

Published Feb 11, 2016. Pretzel has hiked all the famous trails and shares Pretzel Logic -- advice that Appalachian Trail thru-hikers will actually use.

Meet some of the world's most adventurous hikers at the annual Thru Hiker Kick Off Party at Mountain Crossings Outfitters in North Georgia.

Appalachian Trail events take place from early March until September from Georgia to Maine. It's the best way to see the Trail without getting blisters.

We hope to see you at one of the 2014 Appalachian Trail events that take place all along the AT -- from Maine to Georgia.

Roger Chester on Mar 24, 2016
Plus the flip-floppers! Egad.
Chris on Mar 24, 2016
I don't care! I want to be a part of the horde!!!
Mike on Mar 24, 2016
No matter. The herd has already begun to thin and so it will continue for the next several weeks. Wanna venture to guess how many of those 1,000+ have already dropped out?
TJ Figueras on Mar 24, 2016
Part of the horde over here! Hunkered down at Spence Field Shelter on our 2nd day in the Smokies, wind and rain outside threatening to blow away the tarp. God bless whoever decides to pitch a tent in this weather!
Cindy Lee on Mar 25, 2016
Well, lots of folks were predicting this. I can't lie it sounds kinda awful, no doubt this number will drop significantly as they proceed up the trail. Interesting info though.... I did not do the approach trail on my 2010 thru, seemed like it was about 50/50 on those who did and those you did not. LNT!
drew on Mar 29, 2016
If folks are concerned about the "insane horde" on the AT, wouldn't it make sense to push Congress to earmark LWCF dollars to help "complete" some of the other National Scenic Trails in the country instead of only pushing for another $5 million in LWCF each year to protect AT viewsheds? Having more long distance trails around the country that are as "complete" as the AT would alleviate the pressure on the AT.