Appalachian Trail Histories

The view south from the summit of Fisher's Peak, North Carolina, in the summer of 1951. This photograph, taken by thru hiker Gene Espy in July 1951 is one of the only known images of the view from the Appalachian Trail on Fisher's Peak when the trail still ran through this part of Southwestern Virginia. Gene Espy was the second person to successfully hike the entire trail in one season.

Fisher's Peak.JPG

The original route of the Appalachian Trail crossed into North Carolina on Fisher's Peak, just south of the Blue Ridge Music Center (built in 1997). This image shows the Peak in the winter of 1932 and demonstrates how different the landscape was in the 1930s, when the Peak was almost entirely free of trees. Today, it is almost entirely wooded.

The trail guide for this section of trail describes the signature feature of the hike across the Peak as the fields of massive rhododendron bushes covering the peak, a feature that helps to explain why the city of Galax (just a dozen miles northwest) held its rhododendron festival there starting in 1931.

Fisher's Peak.jpg

The old route of the Appalachian Trail crossed into North Carolina on Fisher's Peak, just north of the Blue Ridge Music Center along the Blue Ridge Parkway, both of which were built much later. After passing through the resort known as Norvale Crags, the trail looped back northwest into Virginia toward Galax.

This photograph, taken by ATC Chairman Myron Avery in 1932 during one of his hikes along the old trail route, looks west along the Virginia/North Carolina line toward the New River and the Grayson Highlands in the far distance.

West From Fisher's.jpg

The Little Laurel Shelter on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina was previously known as the Camp Creek Bald Shelter. Located just over a mile south of the summit, this shelter is a stone lean-to and is maintained by the Carolina Mountain Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters

The Wesser Creek Shelter was a traditional Adirondack style lean-to, located just north of Wesser Bald in the Nantahala region of North Carolina. This shelter no longer exists.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Wesser Creek Shelter 1961.jpg

The Appalachian Trail lean-to (shelter) at Deep Gap near Standing Indian Mountain, North Carolina.

Collection: Trail Shelters

A route map of the Blue Ridge Parkway between Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. This map shows not only the route of the Parkway, but also the year when each section of the road was completed. The Parkway began as a New Deal project in 1935 and was not completed until 1987. Altogether, the Parkway is 469 miles long and at its north end it connects with Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, which adds another 105 miles to the route. The Blue Ridge Parkway is part of the National Park system and is the most visited of all the national parks since the end of the Second World War.

Collection: Maps

Benton MacKaye took part in the meeting of several of the southern Appalachian Trail clubs at Cloudland Lodge, Georgia, October 13-14, 1934. In this photograph, he is standing at the summit of Whiteside Mountain, N.C.

Collection: Builders

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

The Cable Gap Shelter was built in 1939, by a crew from the Civilian Conservation Corps. It is located near Fontana Dam in the Nantahala National Forest. It is one of the oldest trail shelters in the southern half of the Trail.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Cable Gap Shelter 03202015.jpg

The Carter Gap Shelter is the third shelter on the Trail north of the Georgia/North Carolina line. This image is of the older version of the shelter. There is now a second, newer Carter Gap Shelter closer to the Trail.

Collection: Trail Shelters
Carter Gap Shelter 04041974.jpg

A hand drawn map of the Appalachian Trail where it crosses Wayah Bald in the Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, made by Asheville, NC photographer George Masa (Masahara Izuka). Masa was instrumental in helping Appalachian Trail Conference chairman Myron Avery determine the final route of the Appalachian Trail and appropriate names for locations in Western North Carolina. This is just one of a number of maps Masa drew by hand for Avery's use in the early 1930s.

Collection: Maps