Appalachian Trail: Trailhead
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Enjoy the View
SINCE THE A.T. TRAVERSES SO MANY REGIONS, THE VIEWS ALONG ITS 2,193 MILES VARY SIGNIFICANTLY, SOMETIMES EVEN WITHIN A FEW MILES. From craggy mountains in North Georgia, to rolling farmlands in Pennsylvania, to the rugged Saddleback Range in Maine, the Trail provides visitors with a diversity of views to admire, each tied to the environments surrounding the footpath. And while each view may differ in scope and composition, all of them are important to preserving the irreplaceable A.T. experience, and all of them inspire us for a wide variety of reasons.

Yet as inspiring as A.T. views are, it is easy for us to take them for granted. Most of these views have survived for centuries, after all, so many of us don’t stop to consider what it takes to protect them well into the future. Steady population growth in the eastern United States and intensifying land use near the Trail — including increasingly larger scale infrastructure development — are two factors (of many) that could permanently impact the quality of A.T. views.

To better address these looming threats, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the National Park Service (NPS) are taking a vital first step to ensure that we identify and accurately describe the scenic beauty along the A.T. by taking inventory of the current state of the Trail’s irreplaceable views.

Known as the “Enjoy the View” initiative, the ATC and NPS will be collecting data and taking in-depth photographs of over 1,400 viewpoints along the entire A.T. The initiative began in 2019 with an assessment of 70 scenic views at four very different sites along the Trail: Nantahala National Forest in North Carolina, the Virginia “Triple Crown,” South Mountain in Pennsylvania and the Saddleback Range in Maine.

The data collected from this program will be invaluable in helping the ATC and its partners determine the funding and effort needed to protect and conserve many of the Trail’s most iconic views. Having photographs of both pristine views and significantly impacted landscapes will provide some of the clearest examples possible of what could happen to these views if we are not proactive in advocating for their conservation — and will help educate the public and policymakers about how important (and fragile) A.T. scenic resources truly are.

Help us protect the irreplaceable A.T. views so that they can inspire generations to come.