Spanning almost 2,200 miles, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail meanders across some of the highest ridges and through the lowest valleys the Appalachian Mountains have to offer. From the southern terminus atop Springer Mountain in Georgia to its northernmost point at the pinnacle of Mt. Katahdin, Maine, the trail traverses many of the few remaining areas along this eastern mountain range still untouched by the hands of man. An extended trip along the trail requires hikers to set aside the poor habits of over-consumption, instead demanding the constant attention to which resources are available within their pack and the most conservative methods for managing them. I feel that giving people the opportunity to live a period of time on a trail and learn from the lessons that trail life can offer, is a vital tool for helping those people focus on the need for conservation once they exit the trail and return to their home lives.
The Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC) is a private, volunteer-based non-profit organization dedicated to the building, preservation and management of the natural, scenic, historic, and cultural resources associated with the Appalachian Trail. The main goal of the ATC is to provide primitive outdoor-recreation and educational opportunities for all Trail visitors. ATC is both a confederation of the 31 clubs with delegated responsibility for managing sections of the Trail and an individual-membership organization. As caretaker of the Trail its founders originally built, ATC seeks to protect the footpath itself, the surrounding public land that buffers it, and all the natural, scenic, and historical resources on that land or otherwise with it. The Conference also helps provide for the public's safe and enjoyable use of the Trail and its facilities. ATC also focuses on strengthening itself as an organization, so that it can meet those two goals.
Since the National Trails System Act was adopted in 1968, the Appalachian Trail has been a part of the national park system.