Understanding Local Perceptions of Management and Values of Long Distance Trails:
Summary of Masters Project, Duke University, 2015
By Julie Judkins,
Director of Education and Outreach, Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Trails are built for connecting people to nature: an important first step of building conservation advocates. Long distance trails offer recreational opportunities, economic stimulus for neighboring communities, education and research opportunities, and lifelong activity. They provide connectivity for human passage and can offer an experience of a lifetime, a pilgrimage of reflection or spiritual awakening. Most importantly, the lands that national trails traverse are protective corridors providing ecosystem services, valuable migration pathways, significant natural resources, and help sustain biological diversity. The Appalachian Trail, for example, runs primarily along the ridgelines of the Appalachian Mountain range and Trail lands protect headwater streams for many of the east coast’s watersheds.
Benton MacKaye’s 1900 Hike Inspires Appalachian Trail
by Larry Anderson
The Long Trail “is a project that will be logically extended,” forester and conservationist Benton MacKaye prophesied in his pathbreaking October 1921 article, “An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning,” which appeared in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects. “What the Green Mountains are to Vermont the Appalachians are to the eastern United States. What is suggested, therefore, is a ‘long trail’ over the full length of the Appalachian skyline.” When MacKaye first publicly broached his idea for the Appalachian Trail, he thus offered the then-uncompleted Long Trail as a model for his vision of “a series of recreational communities throughout the Appalachian chain of mountains from New England to Georgia, these to be connected by a walking trail.”