Appalachian Trail Conservation Banner Brent McGuirt

A Strong Future

As guardians of the Appalachian Trail, our goal is to ensure it will be enjoyed for centuries to come.

Protection and Stewardship Icon

protection and stewardship

Our conservation work is focused on the protection and stewardship of land surrounding the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This land base, spanning the Appalachian highland region from Georgia to Maine, connects significant state and federal lands. Running primarily along the ridgelines, Trail lands protect a migratory flywayand headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds. This protected area is one of the most significant greenways in the eastern United States.

Our conservation work is focused on identifying high priority tracts for permanent protection, working collaboratively with numerous conservation partners. We advocate funding for land protection and for best management practices to effectively steward these lands in perpetuity. We also play an important role as land managers, assisting with the natural resource management of corridor lands to ensure that the integrity of protected A.T. lands is upheld for future generations to experience and enjoy. We strive to base management decisions on sound science, and we work cooperatively with partners to develop our conservation approach. 


We care about protecting the experience we all have while hiking the A.T. Along with our partners, we are charged under the National Trails Systems Act to ensure that the scenic vistas and natural and cultural heritage of the Trail corridor is protected forever.

Anticipating Climate Change and its Impacts on the Appalachian Trail

by Appalachian Trail Conservancy | Sep 17, 2015
<p style="text-align: left;">There is widespread international scientific consensus that the continued increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to human activities has negatively affected the stability of the global climate system.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> With its relatively continuous, connected, high-elevation, high-quality habitats, the Appalachian Trail offers a unique opportunity to mitigate the causes of climate change, to facilitate adaptation to climate change, and to document and communicate its impacts.<br /> <br /> Impacts of climate change on the Appalachian Trail may include:<br /> <br /> </p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Long-term droughts, which would cause the backcountry water sources hikers depend on to dry up&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- More severe storms, which would cause increased treadway erosion and blowdown obstructions&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">&nbsp;- Increased risk of forest fires&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Increased invasion of exotic-invasive species&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Increases in vector-borne diseases, such as Lyme disease</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Changes in the timing of the seasons, which may disrupt the ecosystem, threaten the health of plant and animal communities, and alter and compromise the &ldquo;Walking with Spring&rdquo; Trail experience&nbsp;</p> <em> </em> <p style="text-align: left;">The Appalachian Trail Conservancy first adopted a climate change resolution in 2008, as&nbsp;part of our advocacy for the important and diverse ecosystems along the Appalachian Trail and its protected land. The resolution was revised in May 2016 and commits the&nbsp;ATC to:&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Continue to reduce carbon emissions associated with ATC operations and visitor use</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Support appropriate state and federal carbon-reducing policies and regulations</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Advocate for managing Appalachian forest lands for carbon sequestration and climate resiliency</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Explore partnership opportunities to enhance land protection and management for improved landscape resilience</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Safeguard biodiverse landscapes for plants and animals as they naturally adapt to climate change</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Track climate change indicators using ATC&rsquo;s environmental monitoring programs and other data</p> <p style="margin-left: 40px; text-align: left;">- Communicate predicted and observed climate change impacts to ATC members and Trail users</p> <p style="text-align: left;"> <em>Want more information? Get an overview of climate change <a href=""><em>h</em><em>ere</em></a></em><em>, or read our <a href="">full resolution</a> regarding the issue.<br /> </em></p>

land protection

Protecting land along the A.T. has been a priority for Trail managers ever since the Trail was established. We have worked with state and federal agencies since 1982 to protect the lands surrounding the A.T., resulting in one of the most significant and successful land acquisition programs in the United States. Today there is a 250,000 acre greenway around the Trail that connects significant public lands in the eastern United States.

Boundary Corridor Lands by Brent McQuirt Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Boundary and Corridor Lands

Our Boundary Program protects the public's investment in the lands that surround the A.T. Volunteers from A.T. Maintaining Clubs work with us to monitor and maintain more than 1,500 miles of the Trail corridor's exterior boundary.

Natural and Cultural Resource Management Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Natural and Cultural Resource Management

The A.T. is about more than hiking. Trail lands protect headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds and also host hundreds of rare species. We work cooperatively with our partners to understand and monitor these resources.

trail management

Trail management encompasses the on–the-ground stewardship performed by volunteers and agency partners to maintain the Trail, its structures, and its natural and cultural resources. Management includes keeping the footpath clear of natural overgrowth and blowdowns; building and relocating sections of the footpath; building and repairing shelters and other structures; and caring for overnight sites. We coordinate this work, provide training, help set policy parameters, supply funding and other assistance to 31 Trail maintaining clubs, and recruit and manage volunteer Trail crews.

Appalachian Trail Crew Flexing Muscles

​Trail Crews

Our Trail Crews tackle large-scale projects like relocations and rehabilitation as well as bridge and shelter construction. The work is hard, but it's a great way to give back to the Trail that changed your life.

RidgeRunners and Caretakers by Laurie Potteiger

​Ridgerunners & Caretakers

More than 30 ridgerunners and caretakers help us promote a quality A.T. experience by educating hikers on how to minimize impact on the Trail.

Trail Management Policies AT Boundary Marker by Vincent Juarez

​Trail Management Policies

If you're an A.T. manager, here are links to Trail policies, planning guidance, and other volunteer management resources.

AT Community Program Logo

the appalachian trail community program

The Appalachian Trail Community™ program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).  Towns, counties, and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by all that use the A.T. and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. The program serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T.

Youth and Community Engagement Appalachian Trail Conservancy

youth engagement

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision is to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy. In order to realize that vision, we strive to incorporate groups that are underrepresented among ATC staff, A.T. visitors, and ATC constituents. We hope to create an ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers, and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.