By: Sarah Stone
Here at Frayed Passport, we’re no strangers to elaborate and adventurous bucket lists. From volcanic eruptions in Hawaii, to crossing Patagonia on horseback, and lots more, we’re happy to talk about all the amazing places we’d love to visit—and think you should too. But today I’m going to stay a little bit closer to home and highlight the Appalachian Trail.
I wasn’t an athletic kid. In high school I lived in an Appalachian region of Pennsylvania and heard of people hiking the trail but didn’t care. Fortunately, after some years of adventure travel, living in the city, and learning to appreciate physical activity, I’ve added all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail to my bucket list.
Stretching from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail spans 14 states, and 3 million people visit it each year. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy keeps a running tally of 2000-milers – that is, people who’ve hiked the whole thing – with more than 9,200 people hiking it in the 2010s alone. It’s the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, and more than 3 million people visit the trail every year. The whole trail passes through six National Parks, eight National Forests, and two wildlife refuges.
In recent years, I’ve become addicted to Geocaching – a super fun hobby that’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. With Geocaching, people hide caches of all sizes – from teeny little microcaches the size of your thumbnail, all the way up to ammo boxes and even larger – containing a logbook and sometimes small tokens left by other Geocachers, all over the world. If you find one, you’ll write your name and the date you found the cache in the contained logbook, and hide the “treasure” for other people to find as well. I like to carry baseball pins to leave in containers large enough to hold them – it’s a fun little souvenir for fellow Geocachers to find and take home. So of course, Geocaching along the Appalachian Trail is on my bucket list!
You don’t need to hike the entire Appalachian Trail to enjoy its incredible beauty, of course – there are so many smaller day hikes you can take, or even multi-day hikes if you’re looking for a wonderful weekend getaway. There are easy, medium, and difficult hikes for people of all skill levels and physical abilities, and no matter where you go, you are absolutely going to find a breathtaking view.
To help preserve this gorgeous trail, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy educates hikers and vacationers on trail safety, the importance of leaving no trace, and different volunteer opportunities that they can take part in along the trail. Volunteer opportunities are available in every state, and include positions like photography and videography, visitor center volunteering, trail maintenance, and much more. You can volunteer individually or in a group, and if you would rather donate to keep the trail beautiful and accessible, click here to learn about ways to give.