Long-distance footpath in the eastern USA, running for a distance of 3,300 km/2,050 mi along the Appalachian Mountains between Georgia and Maine. It was established 1925–37, and in 1968 was designated as the country's first National Scenic Trail.
The Appalachian Trail was the brainchild of the Massachusetts writer and outdoorsman Benton MacKaye (1877–1976). He wanted it to take in the best vistas, and so avoided traditional Indian trails (which tended to lie in the valleys), preferring instead to site his path along the ridges. As well as running through areas of deep forest, it also uses existing roadways and passes through farmland and residential areas. At regular intervals along its course, wayside shelters have been built for ramblers, most of whom walk the trail from south to north. The Trail starts at Springer Mountain in Georgia, and ends at the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine. Other notable sites on or near its route include: Mount Oglethorpe, Georgia (its original southern terminus); the North Carolina–Tennessee border; the cities of Damascus and Roanoke, Virginia; Harpers Ferry, West Virginia (headquarters of the trail administration); Frederick, Maryland; Carlisle and the Delaware Water Gap, Pennsylvania; High Point, New Jersey; Bear Mount, New York; Kent, Connecticut, and the Taconics; Great Barrington, the Berkshires, and Williamstown, Massachusetts; Bennington and Pico Peak, Vermont; Hanover and Mount Washington, New Hampshire; and the Mahoosuc Range and Baxter State Park, Maine. In southern Vermont, the Long Trail runs alongside the Appalachian Trail for a while before diverging at Pico Peak.