Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman
ATC Joins with Baxter State Park and Others in Addressing Thru-Hiker Behaviors 

By Bob Proudman and Beth Critton

Maine A.T. Club (MATC) President Lester Kenway recently said it best when he remarked, “Katahdin is a real prize. Whether it’s a hiker or a trail maintainer, it’s an iconic thing that motivates us all.” 

Kenway was responding to controversy around long-distance-hiker behavior in Baxter State Park, particularly violations of rules involving alcohol, group size, and commercial activity.

Traditional, longstanding ATC and National Park Service direction on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is very closely aligned with Baxter State Park’s mission and rules (see “Taking a Look at the Big Picture” at
Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell and the Baxter State Park Authority are charged with implementing the formal Deeds of Trust of the late Governor Percival Baxter, who deeded the land to the people of the State of Maine. One of his principle intentions was that the Park “shall forever be kept and remain in the natural wild state.” Last month, the ATC joined Baxter State Park officials, the Friends of Baxter State Park, MATC, the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, and representatives of the local business community in a daylong meeting to explore mutual interests and goals in support of the Park management.

In October, ATC Executive Director Ron Tipton and Appalachian National Scenic Trail Superintendent Wendy Janssen plan to meet with Baxter representatives in Maine to focus on the iconic mountain the Penobscot tribe called Katahdin, "The Greatest Mountain.”

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy supports our agency and Trail club partners in Baxter State Park, and elsewhere along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, as we all work on strategies to deal with misuse of the Trail and other issues. 
Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is now an ATC consultant contributing to The Register. 


Protecting the Trail

A Walk in the Woods
opens in theaters nationwide on September 2. With an award-winning cast that includes Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson, this movie will likely result in a surge of hikers along the Appalachian Trail.

We've put proactive measures in place to manage this increase. Visit to learn more.

Cove Mountain Privy
By Patricia Held 
(Reprinted with permission from the July-August-September 2015 issue of The Virginia Hiker, newsletter of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club. Photos by John Philips and Mike Rieley)
Much can be said for hiking the Appalachian Trail. The scenery and comradery are special. The trail is so well designed and constructed with stones in just the right places and rock and timber steps instead of slippery slides. But who thinks about the privies, so necessary, but also forgotten unless they are needed and in disrepair? 

Privies do not last forever and the task of replacing them falls upon local trail clubs. When the Cove Mountain Shelter’s privy was due for an overhaul, our Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club (NBATC) jumped at the challenge. And indeed, this time building a privy was a challenge! Access, volunteers and funding were all important issues that had to be addressed for the success of this project. And if these seemed insurmountable, the Club also needed a helicopter to bring in the heavy materials.

(See the full article and more photos here.)

Voluntary Hike Registration

This year, the ATC piloted a voluntary registration system for prospective thru-hikers, showing how many people planned to start their hikes on specific dates. As of July 15, 1,963 hikers had registered their thru-hikes. 

While the great majority of hikers head north from Springer Mountain in March and April each year (more than 1,400 northbound hikes were registered this year), adjusting start dates can help reduce overcrowding at shelters and spread out impacts, especially during that peak period.

Hikers are also encouraged to consider "flip-flop" hikes, starting somewhere else along the Trail besides Springer Mountain or Katahdiin. Many flip-flop hikers start in Harpers Ferry and head either north or south from ATC headquarters. After reaching the terminus in that direction, they flip their itinerary to do the other half of the Trail. 

The pilot registration system has ended for this year. We will be looking at hiker feedback and making improvements for 2016 in anticipation of increased numbers of hikers with the release of the film A Walk in the Woods.

Proactive Protection 

ATC is initiating a number of actions to help manage the expected increase in usage of the Trail,  including:

Education and awareness campaigns promoting Leave No Trace practices.
Supporting the Trail Karma program to encourage responsible use.
Increasing the number of ridgerunners and caretakers on the Trail.

Establishing a voluntary thru-hike registration system.

Promoting alternatives to the traditional Georgia to Maine thru-hike route.
Learn more about these efforts here.
Don't be That Guy

ATC has posted a brand-new set of  Leave No Trace videos  to YouTube, with the theme "Don't Be That Guy."

Additional information, videos, and downloadable Leave No Trace resources can be found on ATC's website.

Check these resources out, and spread the word.

Subscribe to The Register

First published in April 1978, The Register is intended for Appalachian Trail volunteers, their agency partners, and others interested in the stewardship of the Trail. 

Subscribe to The Register (and other ATC newsletters) at  or send a message to with "subscribe" in the subject line and with your first and last name and e-mail address in the body of the message. 

Please forward this issue or provide this information to anyone who might be interested in subscribing. 

No Pulaski Needed... 

to dig into ATC's Volunteer Toolkit. 

Just go to, where you'll find information on Trail maintenance and management, workshop opportunities (including certified sawyer workshops),  boundary resources, back issues of The Register, and more.

Volunteer of the Month

Doug and Stacey Levin’s search for the ideal place to retire led them to Abingdon, VA, where they found plentiful opportunities for hiking, kayaking, cycling, gardening—and volunteering. 

Read more about Stacey and Doug here)

2015 ATC Meetings

Southern Regional Partnership Committee
October 17
Asheville, NC

Central & Southwest Virginia Regional Partnership Committee
October 24
Buena Vista, VA

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
November 7
Harrisburg, PA

ATC Stewardship Council
November 10–12
Buckeystown, MD

ATC Board of Directors
November 12-13
Buckeystown, MD

New England Regional Partnership Committee
November 21
Plymouth, NH

The Register  is published by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for the volunteers of the Appalachian Trail, their agency partners, and others interested in the stewardship of the Trail.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trailensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. To become a member, volunteer, or learn more, visit
Our mailing address is:
ATC Headquarters
799 Washington St, PO Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425

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