Fundamental Foundations
At its core, the Appalachian Trail is the result of a melting pot of vision, action, leadership, philosophy, environmental passion, and an appreciation for wilderness. Get ready to pan out and dig deep with some essential and fascinating reads that capture the voices, experiences, and the foundations of the Trail.
book spines
Benton MacKaye: Conservationist, Planner and Creator of the Appalachian Trail
By Larry Anderson (Johns Hopkins University Press)
Visionary and planner of the Appalachian Trail and a cofounder of the Wilderness Society, Benton MacKaye (1879-1975) was a pioneer in linking the concepts of preservation, recreation, and regional planning. Anderson’s pathbreaking biography draws on hundreds of sources to craft a portrait never before fully drawn of this significant and unique figure in American environmental, intellectual, and cultural history.
Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics
By Sarah Mittlefehldt (University of Washington Press)
Now a university professor (and folksinger with her husband), Mittlefehldt combined her honeymoon thru-hike with extensive research in federal and Appalachian Trail Conservancy archives and interviews with key actors to produce an acclaimed look at how federal and grassroots efforts behind the A.T. blurred the lines of public/private, local/regional, and amateur/expert to generate unprecedented success in land protection.
On Trails: An Exploration
By Robert Moor (Simon & Schuster)
In 2009, while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, award-winning magazine writer Robert Moor began to wonder about the paths that lie beneath our feet — specifically footpaths. Over the course of the next seven years, Moor traveled the globe exploring trails of all kinds, from the miniscule to the massive, learning the tricks of master trail-builders, hunting down long-lost Cherokee trails, and tracing the origins of our road networks and the Internet. He interweaves his adventures with findings from science, history, philosophy, and nature writing. The result is a book that will make you see the world around you in a whole new light.
The Appalachian Trail: A Time to be Bold
By Charles H.W. Foster 1987, former chair of ANSTAC (self-published)
A long-time chairman of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail Advisory Council, Charles H.W. Foster, tells the “the inside story” of the Trail project and protection of the footpath. Foster explains how the Trail represents an experiment in bioregionalism, but also a great experiment in governmental protection coupled with volunteer management. The story follows the progression from early sporadic and visionary efforts by individual citizens, Trail clubs and states, to the formal efforts to establish, protect, and manage the Trail that began with the authorization of a National Scenic Trail Act in 1968 and culminated in a complex process of land acquisition and major cooperative management agreement signed in 1984.
The New Exploration: A Philosophy of Regional Planning
By Benton MacKaye, introduction by Lewis Mumford, foreword by David Startzell (Appalachian Trail Conservancy)
This reprint of the A.T. founder’s landmark 1928 work — termed as a long-lost classic by The New Yorker contains many illustrations of the Trail as an example of his philosophy in action (plus maps by MacKaye). Today’s small regional-planning projects — attempts to manage growth in ways that restore sense and order to mankind’s relationships with the natural environment — are only resuming work on principles that MacKaye describes in his original work.
The Appalachian Trail: Celebrating America’s Hiking Trail
By Brian B. King, foreword by Bill Bryson (Appalachian Trail Conservancy/Rizzoli)
This hard-cover Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) coffee table book explores the legendary footpath in detail and is filled with more than 300 spectacular contemporary images, as well as unpublished historical photos, documents, and maps from ATC archives. With fascinating essays on topics ranging from the Trail’s history to the day-by-day hiking experience, this book is perfect for anyone interested in conservation, outdoor recreation, or American history, and for all those who have hiked all or any part of the A.T. A pocket inside the back cover contains a full-sized copy of the official National Park Service map of the entire Appalachian Trail.
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