Shenandoah_SkylineDrive_Milemarker103_FallColorsGrow­ing up in Vir­ginia is any outdoorsman’s dream. The abun­dant rivers, streams, and shore­line pro­vide end­less activ­i­ties. The moun­tains to the west hold end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties. Shenan­doah Nation­al Park sits right among Virginia’s moun­tains. It is the per­fect site for campers, hik­ers, and those who just want to enjoy the scenic “Sky­line Dri­ve” that runs through­out it. How­ev­er, even deep­er into the Shenan­doah Moun­tains lies a trea­sure of America’s hik­ing his­to­ry — The Appalachi­an Trail.  The Appalachi­an Nation­al Scenic Trail, gen­er­al­ly known as the Appalachi­an Trail or sim­ply the A.T., is a marked hik­ing trail in the East­ern Unit­ed States extend­ing between Springer Moun­tain in Geor­gia and Mount Katahdin in Maine.

The Appalachi­an Nation­al Scenic Trail, gen­er­al­ly known as the Appalachi­an Trail or sim­ply the A.T., is a marked hik­ing trail in the East­ern Unit­ed States extend­ing between Springer Moun­tain in Geor­gia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is the longest hik­ing-only trail in the world, and 2 mil­lion peo­ple are said to do at least one-day hik­ing on the trail each year. This trail is a trea­sure of the Vir­ginia moun­tains. 

A Hidden Treasure

This trail is a trea­sure of the Vir­ginia moun­tains. I was lucky enough to grow up near­by the Shenan­doah Moun­tains. My fam­i­ly would often vis­it for week­ends of camp­ing and hik­ing. My favorite parts of those trips were the times we got to hike on the Appalachi­an Trail. I had always admired those who hiked from Geor­gia to Maine, and it still a goal of mine to com­plete at least some larg­er por­tions of the trail. 

Appalachian-trail-silers-bald-w1The trail is long and often dif­fi­cult, but the beau­ty of the sur­round­ing land­scape is worth it. Today, some of the best and most exten­sive broad-leaved decid­u­ous forests still flour­ish along this trail. Lush forests floors, filled with ferns and wild­flow­ers also define the trail. They are home to a num­ber of wildlife pop­u­la­tions as well. Scat­tered through dif­fer­ent areas of the trail you can find black bears, wild boars, rac­coons, fox­es, beavers, and numer­ous white-tailed deer. I have encoun­tered many of these ani­mals on mul­ti­ple occa­sions. Dur­ing the spring and ear­ly sum­mer, white-tailed deer fawns can be seen hid­ing in the under­growth. Fam­i­lies of Black Bears are an excit­ing sight as well, as long as its from the safe­ty of your car.

Scouting Skills on the Trail

Dur­ing those times I hiked with my fam­i­ly, I was using many Scout­ing Skills, although I didn’t even real­ize it. Our dad, who had also been a Scout Leader, taught us how to be safe on the trail. We often had to prac­tice basic first aid for the occa­sion­al scrapes and bruis­es. We also learned a lot about stay­ing hydrat­ed, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the warm and humid Vir­ginia Sum­mer days. My lit­tle broth­ers espe­cial­ly loved the times when we would set up camp, because that meant a fire need­ed to be built. Just like Scouts earn­ing a Totin’ Chip Mer­it Badge, my two younger broth­ers were taught how to han­dle their tools care­ful­ly and pro­tect the safe­ty of us all. And we always prac­ticed “leave-no-trace” in our camp­ing and hik­ing. 

Appalachian_Trail_sign_in_PennsylvaniaGrow­ing up so close to this trail was an impor­tant part in build­ing who I am today. I have gained a love for the lush green Vir­ginia moun­tains. Hik­ing the A.T. instilled in me a love for hik­ing and the out­doors. 

So, when it comes time to com­plete those hik­ing Mer­it Badges, give the Appalachi­an Trail a thought. 

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Madison Austin
studies Public Relations at Brigham Young University and is a marketing specialist at the Utah National Parks Council. She is an avid hiker and enjoys being outdoors. Growing up in the mountainous regions of Colorado and Virginia enabled her to follow these passions. After moving to Utah to attend college, she has spent her time fostering both a career in Communications and a love for Utah's National Parks.

One comment

  1. Tyler North
    Tyler North ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Out here in the west we talk a lot about the Pacif­ic Crest Trail, but I bet the Appalachi­an is just a s for­mi­da­ble. I can imag­ine the weath­er being pret­ty diverse with the super-winds in Maine and the hot, sticky weath­er of Geor­gia. Kudos to the peo­ple who through-hike the whole thing!

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