Appalachian Trail Histories

Spence Field Trail Shelter; Appalachian Trail, North Carolina. Date unknown. Image taken by National Park Service, "Showing condition some people leave things in."

Collection: Trail Shelters

A group of day hikers at an Appalachian Trail shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1959).

Collection: Hikers

The Raven Rock Shelter was built by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) in 2010 as a replacement for the Devil's Racecourse Shelter, one of the shelters constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Because the Devil's Racecourse Shelter was in need of substantial renovation, and because it had become a preferred location for non-hikers to stage parties (it was close to a road), the PATC decided to build the new shelter much further uphill, away from the road, and close to the Trail.

Collection: Trail Shelters

This shelter, located in Washington County, Maryland, is dedicated to the memory of Ensign Phillip Cowall. Its construction was financed with funds donated to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) by his parents, David and Cindy Cowall of Salisbury, Maryland, in 1998, in memory of their son, who had loved the Appalachian Trail. The shelter is located 1054.8 miles north of Springer Mountain (GA) and 1135 miles south of Mount Katahdin (ME).

Collection: Trail Shelters

The Pine Knob Shelter sits just north of the footbridge over I-70 near the mid-point of the Appalachian Trail in Maryland. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1939, this shelter is an excellent example of the traditional lean to design favored at that time. It is 1046.6 miles north of Springer Mountain (GA) and 1143.2 miles south of Mount Katahdin (ME).

Collection: Trail Shelters

Icewater Spring shelter in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, crowded with sleeping bags and other hiker gear. Shelters, especially those in high traffic areas like the Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, and any location close to a road, often see substantial use by short and long distance hikers.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Sleeping bags and other gear.jpg

In 1939 the Appalachian Trail Conference issued guidelines to its member clubs regarding the construction of shelters (then called lean-tos) along the Appalachian Trail. The goal, as stated in this document, was to place shelters approximately 10 miles apart:

Such spacing avoids undue exertion for travelers carrying heavy packs and yet permits "skipping" a lean-to by more strenuously inclined traveler's for their day's journey.

The design of the lean-tos was to follow the general design of the Adirondack shelter: three-walled, with a steeply sloping roof, and a stone fireplace at the front that would radiate heat into the structure.

Collection: Trail Shelters

This two story shelter has space for as many as 20 hikers. Built in 1992, the shelter is dedicated to the memory of Nelson Leavell Garner, Jr. and was designed by his architecture school classmates. The shelter's costs were paid by Garner's parents, in memory of their son who loved hiking on the Appalachian Trail.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Bryant Ridge BD123.jpg

Built in 1989 by the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club, the Campbell Shelter is just to the north of the very popular McAfee Knob.

Collection: Trail Shelters

The Dick's Dome Shelter is located in Sky Meadows State Park along the Appalachian Trail in Fauquier County, VA. Built in 1987 by Potomac Appalachian Trail Club member Dick George on what was private property, the shelter is a very small geodesic dome along the bank of Whiskey Creek. The PATC has built a replacement, Whiskey Creek Shelter, just up the hill from the old Dome.

Collection: Trail Shelters

The Sam Moore Shelter in Northern Virginia is located 3 miles south of the Bears Den Hostel on a portion of the trail known as "The Roller Coaster." The shelter has capacity for 6, a privy, fireplace, and sheltered picnic table. This shelter was built in 1990 by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Sam Moore Shelter.jpg

Built in 1960, the Harper's Creek Shelter is maintained by the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club. It is the only shelter within the Three Ridges Wilderness area and is several miles north of the Tye River in Nelson County, Virginia. 

Collection: Trail Shelters
Harpers Creek Shelter.jpg