Appalachian Trail Conservancy

SidehillBeth Critton and Bob Proudman

The White Blaze

By Beth Critton

Voices wafted through the woods as we hiked along the A.T. in North Carolina: “Cheerio box,” said one. “Valspar white latex,” said another (with intensity). “It does not drip.” What were these people talking about? 
It soon became apparent that the speakers (Trail maintainers and Biennial hike leaders) were not talking about their breakfast preferences or kitchen remodeling—they were debating the pros and cons of blazing techniques and supplies. 
Indeed, there are many choices. The Appalachian Trail Design, Construction, and Maintenance handbook suggests the following techniques:
  • Use stencils to apply paint by brush or spray can,(Cheerio boxes are purportedly a great stencil material) 
  • Trace the blaze outline through a stencil with a felt tip marker, then fill in the rectangle with a paint brush
  • Use a two- by six-inch stamp made from a sponge
  • Use a straight edge
  • Blaze freehand, gauging the size of each blaze with a cardboard template or marks on a paintbrush
A.T. Blaze
Regardless of how they are painted, there are a lot of white blazes on the Trail—an estimated 165,000 according to the NPS website.

Although the white blaze was adopted as the A.T.’s marking standard by the Appalachian Trail Conference in October of 1979, when and how its use began is less clear. While Connecticut can trace the blue blazes on its trails to blazes painted in 1908 by the Wonalancet Out Door Club in New Hampshire, my research (Internet and inquiries to Brian King and Bob Proudman at ATC) failed to identify who painted the first white blaze or where. Indeed, I got no farther back than Ed Garvey’s recollection (The Register, April 1991) of collaborating with Stan Murray and Dr. Jean Stephenson (who, he says, “had a passion for paint-blazing”) on the 1966 Trail Manual for the Appalachian Trail, which included a chapter on white paint blazes. 
Can you solve the mystery of the white blaze? Be the first to submit documentation of the earliest use of a white blaze as a marker for the Appalachian Trail to
Beth Critton is Chair of the Stewardship Council
Bob Proudman is Director of Conservation Operations

Standard of Excellence 

Ed Garvey was concerned about inconsistent and careless blazing along the Trail (like these two examples) and wrote about it In the 1991 article mentioned above in Sidehill. "I firmly believe that there should be only one standard to be used in the paint-blazing of the Trail," he said, "and that standard should be excellence."

Are the blazes in your Trail section up to that standard? ATC's Appalachian Trail Design, Construction, and Maintenance handbook, has information on blazing standards, techniques, and what kind of paint to use. A.T. maintainers may purchase the book at a discount. Call the Ultimate A.T. Store at 888-287-8673 for details.

Garvey (1914-1999) helped build and maintain the Appalachian Trail. Among many accomplishments, he was president and Trail supervisor of the Potomac A.T. Club, served on ATC's board, and worked for the passage of state and federal legislation protecting the Trail. His book about his 1970 thru-hike captured the imagination of hikers. He was one of the first to be honored in the Appalachian Trail Hall of Fame
The Ultimate Blazing Machine

Fred Schneider, an A.T. maintainer with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, makes perfect blazes using a Styrofoam paint pad, part of his blazing kit, dubbed “The Ultimate Blazing Machine” in the Summer 2013 issue of The Trailwalker, a quarterly publication of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. Click on the photo at left - you'll find the full article on page 7 in the Tool Tips for Trail Volunteers section.
Shelter Registers

The question of what to do with the registers left for hiker use in A.T. shelters was discussed at the November ATC Stewardship Council meeting. Some registers are placed by the Trail clubs or shelter maintainers; others may be left by people with a request that they be mailed somewhere when filled.

The Council unanimously passed this motion: "As the Appalachian Trail Conservancy does not have the space to routinely archive shelter registers, the retention or disposal of shelter registers is a club decision. Clubs are encouraged to keep registers for one year for their possible value for law enforcement investigations or other research interests. Clubs may, but are not obliged to, return privately-placed shelter registers that are in effect 'intentionally abandoned' property."

Club leaders looking for a "home" for the registers may want to contact local or state historical societies to see if they are interested. The Appalachian Trail Museum is looking for "vintage registers" - you can find contact information here to learn if you might be able to donate yours to the museum.

Boundary Blurb 
Corridor Stewardship Technicians Kevin Simpson and Glenn Nelson are working for ATC in the mid-Atlantic region through December. Together with Corridor Stewardship Manager Nicole Wooten, they have been out in the field with the Cumberland Valley A.T. Club, the Allentown Hiking Club, the Batona Hiking Club, and the Philadelphia Trail Club. They look forward to meeting corridor monitors across the region and continuing to work in challenging areas.  

In New England, Trail Management Assistant Silvia Cassano has been working with volunteers in Connecticut and Massachusetts this month to recover overgrown sections of boundary and to address encroachments.
ATC Land Protection Associate Alison ScheidererAlison Scheiderer
Land Protection Associate
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
New England Regional Office

Hunting Season

Photo: AMC-CT Volunteers Anna McClellan (with Lizzie) and Bruce Laroche were prepared for hunting season during a recent corridor boundary workshop.  

Deer firearm season is or soon will be underway in the 14 states through which the Trail passesATC's hunting season chart lists seasons and provides links to hunting regulations for those states

Hunting is permitted along much of the Trail and on adjacent lands. If you are working or hiking on the Trail or its corridor during hunting season, wear blaze orange, and make your presence known (whistle, sing, talk loudly). 

More hunting safety advice can be found 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. 

The A.T. Store 

A.T. maintainers can purchase Appalachian Trail, Design, Construction, and Maintenance and the A.T. Fieldbook at a substantial discount by calling the toll-free number of the Ultimate A.T. Store at 888-287-8673.

Those books also can be found in the Exploring the A.T. section of our online store. Many other books, maps, apparel, and gift items are available, including The Appalachian Trail: Celebrating America's Hiking Trail. Recipient of a 2013 National Outdoor Book Award, the book documents the history, beauty, and significance of the Trail in text and photos. 

Volunteer of the Month

Rocky Top Trail Crew volunteer Keith Brown is our November volunteer of the month.

Fellow volunteers and crew staff alike say it is a pleasure to learn from and work with Keith, whose dedication to the A.T. is infectious.

Read more about Keith here.


2014 ATC Meetings

Mid-Atlantic Regional Partnership Committee
March 21-23

Southern Partnership Meeting
April 11-13

ATC Stewardship Council
May 15-16
Shepherdstown, WV

ATC Board of Directors
May 16-17
Shepherdstown, WV

New England Regional Partnership Committee
To be determined

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 © 2013  |  All rights reserved.