Did you know that Blue Ridge Hiking Company is permitted on over 2,000 miles of trails in the southern Appalachians? We love them all for different reasons. Some trails are hidden gems where you hardly ever pass another hiker while another is a national icon. The most famous, The Appalachian Trail, is a 2,190 mile path that stretches through 14 states between Georgia and Maine. BRHC is able to guide trips on the 130 mile section through the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Pisgah National Forest.

We have big love for this famed footpath. Over half of our staff have either thru-hiked it (meaning they completed the entire path in a calendar year) or they are active trail maintainers on the A.T. You can read more about the role of a trail maintainer here.

This week we are celebrating our most well known trail in WNC with 10 fun facts. Here you go:

1. The Appalachian Trail was envisioned by a man named Benton MacKaye who published an article outlining the original concept for the footpath in 1921.

2. The first female to hike the Appalachian Trail alone was a 67 year-old woman named Grandma Gatewood. She completed the trail another two times before turning 75. (We have a great book, author signed, in the shop that shares her life story. Check out Grandma Gatewood’s Walk by Ben Montgomery.)

3. The Appalachian Trail is part of the National Parks System. The current superintendent of the “Appalachian National Scenic Trail” is Wendy Janssen.

4. When hikers reach the half-way point of the trail they have the opportunity to take part in a “half-gallon challenge” in which they eat an entire half-gallon on ice cream. 

5. It takes about 5,000,000 steps to hike the entire A.T.

6. The Appalachian Trail is primarily maintained by volunteers. There are 31 Trail Clubs along the A.T. corridor that help keep the trail open for hikers. We like to partner with our local group, The Carolina Mountain Club, for an annual Trail Crew outing and several of our guides have assigned sections of the A.T. that they help care for. 

7. Early on, it was never envisioned – or even thought possible – that the trail could be hiked all at once. Some people piece the entire trail together over years or decades. This is called section hiking. Most of the A.T. users are day hikers. Approximately 3,000,000 guests step foot on the A.T. each year. And only about 3,000 or .1 % of those guest are thru-hikers. 

8. The Appalachian Trail includes over 500,000 feet of vertical gain.

9. The A.T. travels through six National Parks and eight National Forests. Blue Ridge Hiking Company is able to guide trips on the Appalachian Trail through The Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Pisgah National Forest.

10. The youngest person to hike the entire trail – depending on how you count it – was a 1-year old girl carried by her parents. And there have been several five year olds to complete the path with their families. The oldest person to thru-hike the trail is a man named, Nimblewill Nomad, who completed the path as an 83 year old. It just goes to show it’s never too early or too late to get out there.