AT Hiker Found Dead in Tent Near Trail in Maine

The body of an Appalachian Trail hiker was found in his tent near the trail in Maine on Monday, Aug. 5, two days after he was reported missing by his family.

The death of Jeffrey Aylward, 63, of Plymouth, MA—known as Dusty Pilgrim on the trail—is not considered suspicious, according to a news release from the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Aylward had a recent history of health issues, the department said.

Jeffrey Aylward. Photo provided by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Aylward’s family reported him missing late on Saturday, Aug. 3.
Members of the Maine Warden Service hiked into shelters and sign stations along the trail to spread the word about Aylward, hoping to find hikers who many have seen or talked with him.

After hikers reported seeing a tent about 50 yards off the trail in Township D, warden Kyle Hladik went to the tent and found Aylward about 10 a.m. Monday. The tent was about two-tenths of a mile west of Route 17, near Rangeley and the popular destination known as Height of Land.

Aylward began hiking NOBO at Pinkham Notch in New Hampshire on July 1, heading for Mount Katahdin, the Northern Teminus of the AT.

Family members brought him supplies about every eight days, and became concerned after not hearing from him since a text on July 23.

The Maine Warden Service thanked the AT community and hikers in the region who helped find Aylward.

Feature image courtesy of Logan Roark.

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Comments 7

  • Smiles : Aug 8th

    What a sad loss. Keeping his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers. Rest In Peace, Dusty Pilgrim, Jeffrey.

  • David Howie : Aug 9th

    Rest In Peace, Dusty Pilgrim.

  • Michael Doyle (5 O'Clock) : Aug 9th

    I am gutted. My partner and I spent 2 days with Dusty at the end of his AT thru hike attempt in 2018. He must have gotten off trail right after we spent the evening together at Guyot. If anyone knows the family, I have an action shot of him on the AT from last year. I’d be happy to forward it to them. He was kind, funny & happy, and I hope he is still hiking his own hike.

    • Hugh Owen : Aug 9th

      Michael, Dusty’s daughters commented on the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Facebook page. You might pm them.

      Alexis Marie, Heidi Aylward, and Ann Aylward.

      Thanks for sharing your wonderful memories of Jeffrey.

      • Michael Doyle (5 O'Clock) : Aug 9th

        Thanks for the info…I’ll be sure to reach out to them. Be safe & hike often ~ 5 O’Clock

    • Ann Aylward : Oct 10th

      Hello Michael,
      Ann Aylward here. Thank you so much for your kind words about Dusty Pilgrim. My family is grieving a great loss. My heart has been suddenly crushed and the pain of losing my sweet Jeff is all consuming. Words will never describe the loss. If you have a picture to share it would be a wonderful gesture and my family would be forever greatful. Thank you, Ann

    • Heidi Aylward : Apr 13th

      Michael, I am just seeing this comment now. I know it is so late. If you do have that picture, feel free to reach out to me.


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