Hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2020? Don’t Forget to Register Your Hike!
Attention all aspiring 2020 thru-hikers—don’t forget to register your thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s (ATC’s) form, which includes your start date and location. Registration is voluntary, but helps thru-hikers and the ATC track the busiest start dates and locations.
With the AT increasing in popularity every year, the ATC has been hard at work looking for opportunities to maintain the trail as sustainably as possible while encouraging use. Voluntary registration and promoting nontraditional hikes are some actions already put in place. Even if you’re heading out for the night or taking on a section hike, the ATC’s AT Camp page will take registrations for hikes of all distances. Thru-hikers can register here.
In 2016, nearly 80% of all attempted thru-hikers set out for a NOBO hike, with the ATC reporting an estimated 3,377 hikers beginning their hike at Springer Mountain. Those numbers have increased every year since then.
Hikers are free to start their thru-hike when they want, but with voluntary registration hikers and trail administration will know what to expect, and can plan accordingly. For NOBOs beginning on the more popular days in early spring, shelters and tenting areas can run out of space, and the impact of heavy traffic is more pronounced along fragile sections of trail. On the ATC’s registration page, hikers can see how many people were registered to start on certain days in 2019. The ATC updates 2020 charts as the season progresses.
Remember that planning a nontraditional thru-hike (SOBO or flip-flopping), or choosing to start on a less crowded day won’t just make it a more enjoyable experience for the individual hiker, it will have an overall positive impact on trail sustainability.
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