Appalachian Trail Histories


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Among the thousands who take to the Appalachian trail each year, many of them come without nature or exercise on their mind. Many come with the mindset of drinking, doing drugs, and activities, of that likeness. While these individuals don’t have in mind one of Benton MacKaye’s visions for the Appalachian trail: using the trail for the improvement of one’s health, some are. Through using the trail directly to overcome substance addiction or using it to provide awareness many embody this aspect of MacKaye’s vision fully.

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The Appalachian Trail to some has to been considered a family-friendly past time. However, anything with such a good image will always have a seedy underbelly and that is what has become an overwhelming part of the trail's legacy. As the trail becomes more popular with hikers and people alike drug use has become a thing of popular culture and with changing attitudes towards drugs it has become even more accepted. Throughout the 20th-century and into the 21st-century drug use specifically, Marijuana has maintained a celebrated history on the Appalachian Trail with the solo smokers to outright parties in the Trail Towns. While it is common to participate in drug and alcohol it is still illegal on federal land which, is what most of the Appalachian Trail is considered. Despite the changing drug laws in various states, hikers are taking a risk to bring a party atmosphere to a somewhat lonely experience. 

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