Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman

Rings of Fire

By Bob Proudman and Beth Critton
Managing fire and camping impacts at overnight shelters and campsites along the Appalachian Trail—more than 270 of them—may be one of the most challenging aspects of A.T. management for the Trail clubs and their agency partners.

For an excellent overview of the issues, see Jeff Marion’s Camping Impact Management on the A.T., particularly the sections entitled Campfire Site Proliferation and Impacts, Campsite Expansion, and Proliferation of Visitor-Created Trails. Jeff is a world-class expert in recreation ecology, and past chair of the Trail and Camping Committee of ATC’s Stewardship Council.

 (Below: Illegal fire ring at Liberty Campsite, NH. Photo by Sally Manikian, AMC)
For some sobering examples, see Campsites without Caretakers: Lessons from Columbus Day Weekend 2013, where the Appalachian Mountain Club describes the situation when there were no caretakers at backcountry campsites in the White Mountains during the government shutdown last October.

 (Toms Run Shelter Fire video: Penn Township Volunteer Fire Company)
Are fire accidents and arson at shelters increasing? We encourage all Trail managers to be aware and on the lookout. A shelter in the Michaux State Forest in PA burned last October (see video: Tom's Run Shelter Fire, along Appalachian Trail). In late December, the porch and deck in front of Maryland’s Crampton Gap Shelter suffered $1,200 in damage from a fire. Overnight sites near a road, as in these cases, may be damaged by careless or intentional behavior by people more interested in partying than hiking. Both fires are under investigation.
The Appalachian Trail has a complex, overlapping set of national, state, and municipal rules and regulations and requirements for camping and campfire use. We need to know what those regulations are so we can assist hikers who ask what they can do and where. 
ATC Stewardship Council members Tom Banks (Trail & Camping Committee chair), Judith McGuire (Land and Resource Protection Committee chair) and Trudy Phillips (Virginia Regional Partnership Committee chair and RPC representative to the Council), along with Laurie Potteiger (ATC information services manager) - all of whom are A.T. 2,000-milers - are working with Bob Proudman to compile a Fire and Camping summary to aid hikers in their planning and preparation. A draft will be shared with Trail club leaders and others for comments and corrections before it is posted on ATC's website. Please contact Bob at if you have questions or want more information.
Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is Director of Conservation Operations

Allentown Hiking Club
Fire Rings

The Allentown Hiking Club recently took up the challenge to manage campfire impacts at its two shelters as seen in this article. The ability of any maintaining club to meet its obligations and provide a quality experience for hikers depends on dedicated volunteers such as Ed Ritter and Carl Griffin who provided this article.

The Allentown Hiking Club maintains two shelters on its A.T. section in northeastern PA. The Allentown Shelter, two miles from the nearest road (dirt), is located on a short side trail off the A.T. Originally, it had a traditional stone fireplace with chimney in front of the shelter that was designed for cooking with a grate. Too many people tried to use it as a campfire, stuffing the fire box area and producing high temperatures that cracked stones and cement. 

 (Below: expanding stone fire ring at Outerbridge Shelter)
In an attempt to fix this problem, the fireplace was replaced with a fireplace box lined with fire bricks and then faced with stones for a rustic look. Unfortunately, users continued to overstuff the box and crack the chimney. The club demolished the fireplace and replaced it with a stone fire ring. Again, this proved unsatisfactory as users expanded the ring to a huge size or migrated the ring too close to the shelter so that they could reach the ring from the shelter steps or perhaps try to warm the shelter. 

(Below: installing new Outerbridge fire ring)
The Outerbridge Shelter is .7 mile from a busy paved road and right on the A.T., which passes between the front of the shelter and the fire ring. This shelter is a weekend destination and it seems that everyone wants a fire. As at the Allentown Shelter, users expanded the size of the fire ring and migrated it closer to the front of the shelter, actually moving it onto the Trail at times.
(See the full article and more pictures here.)
Correction: 109 million acres
We inadvertently dropped some zeroes in the article on designated Wilderness in the December 2013 issue. The number of acres of land legislatively protected since passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act is more than 109,000,000 acres. 

Wilderness 50 event planning ideas can be found at More information about Wilderness can be found at

Boundary Blurb 

Happy New Year! Thank you for all that you did to protect the Trail in 2013.

The beginning of the year is a great time to reflect on all of the accomplishments and challenges of 2013 and to begin planning for the 2014 field season. As you look ahead at the work that you would like to accomplish this year, be sure to communicate with your regional corridor stewardship staff so as to best take advantage of the resources that they can provide.

BOLO Be on the lookout for snowmobile use in the corridor. As you are walking the snowy Trail this season, you may see more than fox and deer tracks in the corridor, but except at a few designated crossings, you should not see snowmobiles or their tracks. Unauthorized snowmobile use in the corridor is an encroachment. Please report such use to your club and ATC. Snowmobiler questions about legal crossings can be directed to ATC staff. 

Some people don’t take the winter off from fieldwork. Massachusetts Corridor Monitor Coordinator Steve Smith (at left) was geared up to begin 2014 fieldwork early this month.

Massachusetts volunteers marked an easement with fence posts and flag line to help keep the underlying fee owner in compliance with the easement terms during a construction project

–Alison Scheiderer, Land Protection AssociateATC Land Protection Associate Alison Scheiderer
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
New England Regional Office

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) started 2014 off on the right foot by hosting a training and resources distribution workshop with ATC for new corridor monitors. The workshop was held at the Bears Den Trail Center in VA.

Below: PATC Corridor Workshop Participants (Photo by Carol Bungay)
One of my goals is to help provide a corridor workshop for all the mid-Atlantic clubs in 2014, be it to train new volunteers or discuss in-depth issues among seasoned monitors. Please contact me at to see when we can plan one for your club!
–Nicole Wooten, Corridor Stewardship Coordinator
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Mid-Atlantic Regional Office
717-258-5771 x 207  

Prevent Hypothermia

(Adapted from USDA Forest Service Health and Safety Code Handbook, Section 54.22b)

Hypothermia is a medical emergency. The three components of weather that affect cooling of the body core are temperature, wind, and moisture. Other factors that can cause or aggravate hypothermia include injuries, immobilization, immersion in water, lack of proper clothing or shelter, low blood sugar, and fatigue.

Hypothermia usually occurs on a cold, wet windy day with temperatures at or above freezing. Most hypothermia cases develop between 30º F and 50º F. Always check weather conditions and be familiar with the area before trips. Be prepared and pack a survival kit to be carried by each person.

Key items for winter survival include:
  • Adequate rest.
  • Always anticipate bad weather. Carry additional warm clothing with you. Dress for the conditions in layers of loose, dry clothes; polypropylene or wool underneath, with windproof and waterproof material on top. Ensure that your hands, feet, face, neck, and head are covered and well protected.
  • Keep active to maintain the body’s metabolism and keep your body temperature high.
  • Prevent dehydration by drinking warm water. Avoid drinking cold water, snow, or ice. Avoid caffeinated beverages.
  • Eat balanced meals and high energy snacks.


Hiking through History
2015 ATC Biennial

The 2015 Appalachian Trail Conservancy's Biennial Conference, "Hiking through History," cohosted by the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Mountain Club of Maryland will be held July 17-24, 2015 at the campus of Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA.  (Click here to view a video.)

If you would like to conduct a workshop or give a presentation at the  Conference, please fill out this (very short) form (PDF, DOC)  and e-mail it to

We are seeking volunteers to help with the conference planning, to lead hikes and excursions, to help with registration, and many other needs. If you are interested in volunteering, please complete and return this form.



Photo: Mountain Club of Maryland corridor boundary workshop participants

Hunting is allowed along much of the Appalachian Trail and game seasons vary. ATC's hunting seasons chart has dates and links to regulations for the 14 A.T. states.

Please continue to be visible, audible, and careful when working on the Trail or hiking during hunting season. Wear blaze orange and make your presence known (whistle, sing, talk loudly). 

More hunting safety advice can be found at


ATC Trail Crews

ATC Trail Crews are making incredible improvements to the Appalachian Trail. Here are some 2013 highlights:
  • Konnarock Crew: built more than a mile of new trail on important rehabilitation projects.
  • SWEAT Crew: brushed 30 miles of trail and cleaned about 500 waterbars.
  • Rocky Top Crew: rehabbed the Trail. by building steps, cribbing, and waterbars.
  • Mid-Atlantic Crew: 21 people contributed 1,180 hours to a variety of rehab projects.
  • Vermont Long Trail Patrol: built 2 bridges, one using native timber.
  • Maine Trail Crew: built 578 stone steps and stepping stones at 5 different locations.
In 2013, those six crews contributed a remarkable 16,764 hours of volunteer sweat, skill, and diligence to protect and improve the Appalachian Trail, supplementing the work done by the volunteers of the 31 A.T. maintaining clubs.

We are now recruiting for 2014 crews - join a crew and have fun improving the A.T.! Learn more at

Subscribing 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. 


Volunteer Toolkit

A.T. club leaders, Trail volunteers, and others interested in Trail management will find a wealth of information at

The Volunteer Leadership Handbook found on that page provides an overview of the unique cooperative management of the Trail and describes resources and programs available to assist the Trail clubs.


Volunteer of the Month

Do you know of an outstanding Appalachian Trail club or A.T. crew volunteer? A Trail maintainer or someone who has taken on leadership challenges or is involved in outreach to local communities or youth?

ATC's Volunteer of the Month profile is intended to spotlight outstanding Appalachian Trail volunteers and the wide variety of work they do that benefits the Appalachian Trail, the Trail-maintaining clubs and ATC. 

To nominate a volunteer, click here

Previous volunteer profiles are posted here.


2014 ATC Meetings

New England Regional Partnership Committee
March 22
Hanover, NH

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
March 22-23
Thurmont, MD

Southern Partnership Meeting
April 11-13
Mountain Lake, VA

ATC Stewardship Council
May 15-16
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Board of Directors
May 16-17
Shepherdstown, WV

Volunteer Leadership Meeting
August 8-10
Shepherdstown, WV
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

Copyright © 2014  |  All rights reserved.