Appalachian Trail Histories

Menu
Hikers along the Appalachian Trail today can count on some sort of shelter approximately every 8-10 miles along their route. Construction of this chain of shelters began in the 1930s, but was not completed until after the Second World War. The original route of the Appalachian Trail in Southwestern Virginia included only one such shelter -- the Rocky Knob build by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937, pictured here. Except for this shelter, hikers along the original route had to camp either in tents or in the ruins of old barns or farm houses along the way. When Earl Shaffer passed through during his first ever thru hike of the AT in 1948, he wrote:
"I finally stumbled into Rocky Knob by starlight and found the shelter was of stone, open on three sides and with a cold wind howling through. I gathered some snags for fireplace wood and a sackful of leaves to cushion the stone floor. The temperature must have been around freezing."

Rocky Knob Shelter 2019.jpg

Hikers along the Appalachian Trail today can count on some sort of shelter approximately every 8-10 miles along their route. Construction of this chain of shelters began in the 1930s, but was not completed until after the Second World War. The original route of the Appalachian Trail in Southwestern Virginia included only one such shelter on Rocky Knob in Floyd County. Hikers along the original route had to camp either in tents or in the ruins of old barns or farm houses along the way.

The Cherry Tree Shelter, pictured here, was constructed right around the time that the AT moved away from its original route along Iron Mountain to the present route that passes through the Grayson Highlands. Some hikers who still followed the old route of the trail into the late 1950s reported staying at this shelter -- the only one west of the New River along the old trail route.

Cherry Tree Shelter 2018.jpg

The Little Indian Gap Shelter was located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near what is today known as Indian Gap.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC448.jpeg

This stone shelter on the summit of Mount Everett in Massachusetts is located just off the Appalachian Trail, but is regularly visited by hikers. It is a stone-sided lean-to popular with day hikers.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC061.jpg

The Willis Ross Camp stood near the shore of Stratton Pond in Vermont until it burned in 1972 and was not rebuilt. It was an enclosed cabin-style shelter of the type often found along the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail in Vermont. It was built and maintained by the Green Mountain Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC426.jpeg

The Rentschler Shelter was located in Pennsylvania near Bethel, PA, and was built by volunteers from the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club to commemorate Dr. Rentschler's role in founding their club. The shelter was built in 1933 and torn down in the 1960s. It was a partially closed front log lean-to, typical of the shelters built during this period in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland. A memorial to Dr. Rentschler remains at the site of the former shelter.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC439.jpeg

From reverse of photograph: "Replacing the Roof on the East Carry Pond Lean-to (1954)" The East Carry Pond Lean-to is one of the many Ghost Shelters along the Appalachian Trail. In this photograph from 1954, one can see that it was a small log sided lean-to structure with a shingle roof and a dirt floor. It was maintained by the Maine Appalachian Trail Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC430.jpeg

The Governor Clement Camp near Killington, Vermont, on the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail in 1959. The Governor Clement Camp is a stone sided lean-to and is maintained by the Green Mountain Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC427.jpeg

The Pico Peak Camp, now known as the Pico Camp, in November 1959 shortly after its completion. This shelter is one of the enclosed plank sided camps along the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail section in Vermont. It is maintained by the Green Mountain Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC425.jpeg

The Old Job Shelter near Griffith Lake in Vermont in 1960, along the Long Trail/AT route near Mount Tabor, Vermont. The Old Job Shelter was built by the CCC during the early days of the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail. A few years after this photograph was taken, the U. S. Forest Service built a new shelter closer to the shore of Griffith Lake and named it the Griffith Lake Shelter. The Old Job Shelter was renamed the Peru Peak Shelter.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC421.jpeg

The Clarendon Lodge Shelter on the Appalachian Trail/Long Trail in Vermont in the fall of 1960. This enclosed camp has been replaced by a lean-to style shelter and is maintained by the Green Mountain Club.

Collection: Trail Shelters
ATC422.jpeg

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
ATC064.jpg