The Appalachian Trail is a 2,174 mile hiking trail (footpath) which travels along the ridge crests and across the major valleys of the Appalachian Mountains from Springer Mountain in northern Georgia to Katahdin in Maine. The trail traverses Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.Forester Benton MacKaye envisioned the A.T. as a national scenic trail and it was developed by volunteers and opened as a continuous trail in 1937. The National Trails System Act of 1968 designated the A.T. as the first National Scenic Trail in the U.S. The trail travels over land that is 99% owned by the Federal or State governments or by rights of way.
Day hikers, short-term hikers, section-hikers and thru-hikers use the Appalachian Trail. Thru hikers generally begin their journey in Georgia where they can enjoy the warmer spring weather in the South and end their hike in Maine during the later months of the summer or fall season. Hikers of the trail enjoy the unspoiled beauty of the natural environment as well as the cultural aspects of the trail towns and villages where they stop to restock their supplies and take an occasional rest accompanied by modern conveniences along the way.
The Appalachian Trail can be accessed just 1 mile West of Wesser, N.C. Many visitors to the Nantahala Gorge enjoy short day hikes on one of the most famous sections of the trail located in Swain County.