Appalachian Trail Histories


Popularity of the Trail

Exasperating existing problems has been the increase of popularity among day hikers, outdoorsmen, and thru-hikers on the trail that leave a large ecological impact. As the Appalachian Trail is so connected to the Eastern Corridor, it sees a great amount of traffic as Americans' homes begin to encroach on the trail as well as their propensity to spend their days out on the trail. 

This nexus of probable energy development and human footprint has potentially disastrous effects on the health of the Appalachian Trail going forward as well as it faces extensive outside pressure. The pollution and litter that has cluttered the trail from human activity from energy extraction or leisure hikes have had an adverse effect on aspects of the trail such as fauna, animal life, erosion, and non-degradable litter chiefly from gear or water bottles. 

The increase of hikers can be seen along the trail as shelters become overloaded with gear as well as bear cables sagging under the weight of dozens of packs hanging out of reach of local black bears. 

Human presence on the trail peaks at the beginning of the hiking season, particularly in the South in Georgia. The increase of use of the trail by humans leads to unavoidable damage such as the compaction and acceleration of erosion that accompanies the footprint of hikers along the trail. Just as the increase in human presence leads to more pollution, littering, and plastics the actual environment is changed inadvertently through the presence of people in mass along the trail. The damage left by humans to the soil can destroy the habitats of local wildlife who are drawn to populated areas along the trail for food as well as damaging the ability for local plant life to take root in poor and compacted soil, as only extremely competitive or invasive weeds can survive in harsh soil.