DAMASCUS, Va. (Aug. 31, 2016) – The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club (MRATC) are excited to announce that approximately 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) through the Mount Rogers High Country and Grayson Highlands are available for adoption by new volunteers. This is a rare opportunity for hiking enthusiasts to refer to a portion of the high country as “my section of the Trail.”
MRATC is a dedicated group of volunteers responsible for maintaining roughly 60 miles of the A.T. This section begins at the Tennessee-Virginia state line and continues through the town of Damascus, Mount Rogers High Country and Grayson Highlands State Park before reaching the south fork of the Holston River. This section is commonly referred to as one of the most scenic sections of the 2,190-mile footpath.
Section monitors will oversee the protection of the Appalachian Trail
through the Mount Rogers High Country and Grayson Highlands.
Photo by Jordan Bowman.
MRATC divides its famous section of the Trail into units that are assigned to volunteer section monitors. Section monitors are the authority on their unit of the Trail and are responsible for regularly observing and reporting any problems, performing light maintenance and alerting the club when additional manpower is needed. Several positions have recently become available simultaneously, and MRATC is incorporating an expedited process for training new section monitors and assigning them to their unit by this fall.
“It takes about 7,000 volunteers each year to preserve and protect the Appalachian Trail, but only a few hundred take on the added honor and responsibility of maintaining a section,” said Andrew Downs, ATC regional director for central and southwest Virginia. “Volunteers often wait years for an opportunity to adopt a section, especially a section as beautiful as the Mount Rogers High Country. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for A.T. enthusiasts in southwest Virginia.”
The Mount Rogers High Country drapes the shoulders of the two highest peaks in the state and is known for its boulder-strewn grassy balds, herds of wild ponies, expansive views and a high-elevation spruce-fir forest. Due to the area’s unique environment and popularity with hikers, MRATC wants to ensure these sections are not left without section monitors for long.
New section monitors will be asked to join MRATC and participate in three training events: an informational meeting, an “Introduction to Trail Maintenance” workshop provided by the ATC and at least one MRATC work trip. Those who complete this training will be assigned their unit of the A.T. at a celebration hosted at Damascus Brewing Company in Damascus. New section monitors must commit to this role for at least one year and will be mentored by an experienced club volunteer.
“Maintaining a section of the Appalachian Trail is its own reward,” said MRATC President Terry Walker. “It’s a labor of love, and a tremendous way to connect with the Trail. That’s why so many maintainers keep their sections for years and years. But we also want to show our appreciation for new folks who join the Club this fall when we really need their help."
Two informational meetings will be held to provide more information for those interested in a section monitor position. The first meeting will be held on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Henderson School of Appalachian Arts in Marion; the second will be held on Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. at the Damascus Library. Those interested can also contact the ATC’s Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office via email at email@example.com or by phone at 540.904.4393.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information, please visit www.appalachiantrail.org.
Media Contact: Javier Folgar
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
About the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club
The MRATC was organized on February 29, 1960. The club has maintenance responsibilities for 59.4 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests and Grayson Highlands State Park, as well as for additional trails in the area.
The primary focus of the MRATC is to help ensure that the Appalachian Trail remains available for future generations, to fulfill its maintenance responsibilities to the highest degree possible, to undertake projects that would enhance use of the Trail without sacrifice of beauty or serenity, and to provide opportunities for Club members to enjoy activities associated with the Trail. For more information, please visit mratc.org
Media Contact: Terry Walker
Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club President