Appalachian Trail Histories

The Earl Shaffer Shelter, pictured here in August 2008, was dedicated to Earl Shaffer, the first person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in one year. Shaffer, who grew up nearby, eventually asked that his name be taken off the shelter in 1983, because he felt it had become "too fancy" after the addition of a wooden floor, replacing the old dirt floor. The Susquehanna Appalachian Trail Club disassembled this shelter in 2008, and it now resides at the Appalachian Trail Museum at Pine Grove Furnace State Park (PA).

Collection: Trail Shelters

The Wayah Gap Shelter in the Nantahala Mountains, in the spring of 1961. The current shelter at this location (now known as the Wayah Shelter) is a more recent structure. The original shelter, pictured here, is a typical three-sided log structure with a dirt floor and a fireplace in front. The trash can in the foreground was typical at many back country shelters until the 1970s, when the trash cans were removed and hikers were expected to pack out what they packed in.

A hand drawn map of Wayah Bald by George Masa in 1932 offers an interesting window into the Trail in this region in its earliest days.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Wayah Bald Shelter 1961.jpg

This image depicts the original version of the Wawayanda Lean-to (shelter) in New Jersey in 1955. This original version of the shelter is a typical example of the three sided log and beam lean-to design that was typical of the early trail shelters. The current version of the shelter was built in 1990.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Wawayanda Lean-to 1955.jpg

This photograph of the Walnut Mountain Shelter from 1940 depicts the original version of the shelter. The current shelter at Walnut Mountain is a much newer structure and is maintained by the Carolina Mountain Club. This original structure was built from chestnut logs milled nearby and is one of several early trail shelters that had log rail fences around them to keep livestock out of the structure.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Walnut Mountain Shelter 1940.jpg

The South River Shelter, pictured here just after its completion in the summer of 1940, is one of the original trail shelters built in Shenandoah National Park by the Civilian Conservation Corps. This shelter is no longer in use as a trail shelter and instead is used as a trail maintenance storage facility by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, which maintains all the shelters in the Park.

Collection: Trail Shelters
South River Shelter 1940.jpg

The Wilson Gap Shelter was built in 1941, by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club's shelter crew. It was an atypical trail shelter, because it was built of stone, with an internal fireplace. This particular design happened because the landowner felt that such a structure would present less of a fire hazard on his land. It was the second trail shelter south of the Potomac River, near the present Blackburn Trail Center. It no longer exists, because by the late 1970s, its proximity to a county road meant it had become a party location for non-hikers. It was torn down in 1978.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Wilson Gap Shelter 06101974.jpg

The Three Springs Lean-to (shelter) in Northern Virginia was located on a stretch of the Trail just north of FEMA's Mount Weather Emergency Management base. This shelter no longer exists, because in the late 1970s the Trail was relocated away from the site and the shelter was torn down. It was maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Three Springs Shelter 06101974.jpg

The Racoon Run Shelters in the Michaux State Forest (PA), were built by workers from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1934. Smaller than the standard Appalachian Trail lean-tos built at this time, the paired shelters in this stretch of the Trail in Pennsylvania are unique along the Trail. The Raccoon Run Shelters were maintained by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, but they were torn down in the 1980s when the AT was relocated away from its current route. The Raccoon Run Shelters were among those too close to the road, and often frequented by non-hikers.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Racoon Run Shelters 1934.jpg

The Mosby Shelter was located on the Appalachian Trail between Manassas Gap and Chester Gap in Northern Virginia. It was built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, operating from their camp in Linden, Virginia, just north of the site of the shelter. Today, the location of the former shelter is called the "Mosby Campsite" and the nearby Tom Sealock Spring, which is one of the sources of the Rappahannock River.

The 1941 edition of the ATC's Guide to the Paths of the Blue Ridgeoffers this description of the shelter:
Mosby Lean-to is situated on the edge of a clearing on the crest of the long spur extending to the east from High Knob, about half way between Manassas and Chester Gaps. A small settlement that formerly was in this locality is said to have been called "Mosby" because several of Colonel Mosby's rangers resided nearby.

In 1980, the Mosby Shelter was stolen. Hikers arrived at the site to find that the shelter had been dismantled and removed, likely for the chestnut logs that had been used in its construction. It was not rebuilt.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Mosby Shelter 1939.jpg

The Mackie Run Shelter in the Mont Alto State Forest (now Michaux State Forest) in Pennsylvania, was built in 1936, with the assistance of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Unlike other lean-to style shelters built in the area at this time, the Mackie Run shelter was built as a single structure rather than as a pair of smaller shelters. The Mackie Run shelter no longer exists. It was one of many shelters removed or relocated because it was too close to a road and thus too easily accessible to non-hikers. The Deer Lick Run Shelters, approximately one mile north, replaced the Mackie Run Shelter in this stretch of the Trail.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Mackie Run Shelter 1939.jpg

The Three Springs Shelter was located in what is now known as the Roller Coaster section of the Appalachian Trail in Northern Virginia just north of the FEMA Mount Weather Operations Center. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s on private land, the ownership of this shelter passed to the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) in 1969, when the club purchased the shelter and 15 surrounding acres of land, including a section of the AT. This shelter no longer exists. 

The 1941 ATC Guide to the Paths of the Blue Ridge offers this description:
Three Springs Lean-to is situated in a small clearing near the summit of the Blue Ridge on its southeast slope one mile north of Mt. Weather. It occupies the site of the old Ashby farmhouse that had been built early in the nineteenth century. There is a chimney over the fireplace.
At that time, the Appalachian Trail was located on the east side of Blue Ridge Mountain Road, but was later re-routed onto the western side of the ridgeline.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Three Springs Shelter 1941.jpg

The Big Springs Shelter was located between Mooney Gap and Wallace Gap in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina. A plank sided lean-to of the type favored by the U.S. Forest Service, the Big Springs Shelter was removed in 2013 and replaced by the Long Branch Shelter. The new shelter was built and is maintained by the Nantahala Hiking Club. (Location data on the Big Springs Shelter is approximate.)

Collection: Trail Shelters
Big Spring Shelter 1961.jpg