39th annual ALDHA Gathering

The 39th annual Gathering of long-distance hikers, friends, and A.T. dreamers will reconvene on Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 8-11, 2021 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon, Virginia. The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association is to: Represent and promote the welfare of the Appalachian long-distance hiking community; Provide service in a cooperative spirit […]

Tragedy on the Appalachian Trail

When Benton MacKaye proposed the idea of “an Appalachian Trail” in 1921, he expressed the need for us to have a place “to oxygenate and gain perspective.” Almost 100 years later, we need that place more than ever.

How do we set out to do what’s never been done before?

“We’re putting a human on top of a missile and shooting him into space and it’s never been done before. I need a mathematician that can look beyond the numbers, at math that doesn’t exist.” — Al Harrison (played by Kevin Costner) from the movie Hidden Figures How do we set out to do what’s […]

The creation of the AT changed hiking history

Photo of Smokey Mountains ©2017JeffRyanAuthor.com

The creation of the Appalachian Trail set a number of precedents. It was the first multi-state super trail. It was envisioned as both a recreational and economic asset. And it was built and maintained through the creation of groundbreaking partnerships – a model that remains intact today. My article for the Partnership for the National […]

Nice interview with 203 Travel Challenges

I recently had a great interview with the folks from 203Travel Challenges, who took their inspirational book of the same name and springboarded it into a wonderful travel website that makes you want to lace up your traveling shoes. I am grateful for the opportunity to help inspire people to get out onto hiking trails […]

Happy 50th Birthday to the National Trails System

Map_of_National_scenic_trails

In 1968, the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail were established as the nation’s first National Scenic Trails in the National Trails System Act of 1968. The purpose of the legislation was stated in the opening paragraph of the act: In order to provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreation needs of an expanding population and […]

The Appalachian Trail just turned 80 years old!

Photo of Bigelow Range, Maine ©2017, www.JeffRyanAuthor.com

“On August 14, 1937, a CCC crew completed the final 2 miles of trail in Maine: a section on the north slope of Spaulding Mountain. What they likely didn’t know at the time was they had just closed the last remaining gap in the Appalachian Trail, which was now a continuous path from Mount Oglethorpe, in Georgia, to Katahdin, […]

The Appalachian Trail was a Start-up

Photo of Benton MacKaye's original map of the Appalachian Trail. Used by permission. Source: The American Institute of Architects Archives, Washington, D.C.

The Dreamer The year was 1921. A 42-year-old forester and land use planner named Benton MacKaye came up with a remarkable, progressive idea — to build a super trail that would travel across a dozen states, from Mount Mitchell in Tennessee to Mount Washington in New Hampshire. He pitched the idea to a friend, who […]