In 1921, a group of hiking enthusiasts had an idea to bridge a “super trail” connecting work camps in the Appalachian Mountains. By 1937 a completed wilderness footpath of 2,000+ miles was laid out from Georgia to Maine. The trail is marked with blazes (white marks on trees or stone formations) to show the path for both northbound and southbound hikers. The trail can change slightly from year to year for maintenance, as can the total miles.
The following information is from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website. More information can be found at http://www.appalachiantrail.org
Hikers who complete the entire Appalachian Trail are called 2,000-milers. Those who hike the Trail in less than one year are called “thru-hikers,” those who hike the A.T. in sections over a period of years are called “section-hikers.” Statistics on 2,000-milers, as well as a year-by-year listing and photos taken at ATC in Harpers Ferry of 2,000-milers-in-progress can be found in the “About the Trail” section of our website. A 2,000-miler application can be found in that section, too.
A thru-hiker is a hiker or backpacker who has completed or is attempting to walk the entire Appalachian Trail in a 12-month period (not necessarily a calendar year).
Completing the entire 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail in one trip is a mammoth undertaking. It requires great determination and commitment, but can potentially be accomplished by anyone with the ability to walk. That’s not to say hiking it is easy. The footpath of the A.T. is far more rugged than most anticipate, given the soft and gentle profiles of the mountains and relatively low elevations.
Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike; only about one in four makes it all the way.