A Trail with a View: Protecting the Viewshed of the Appalachian Trail

The following guest post is courtesy of Allie Ferguson from The Trust for Public Land.

No matter how hard-fought the climb was, the view from the top is always worth it. Standing on a rocky outcrop on one of the Appalachian Trail’s magnificent vistas and surveying the vast wilderness below is one of the trail’s biggest rewards, humbling both day- and thru-hiker alike.

Now imagine those views weren’t of endless forests and rivers–but of a chain of resorts and condos, casinos, or housing developments. Changes things a bit, doesn’t it? 

It’s a common misconception that the land surrounding the Appalachian Trail has been permanently protected from development. While it’s true that the length of the trail is protected, in some cases that legal protection is only 200 feet wide, and, there are still plenty of private land holdings within the viewshed that threaten the sanctity of the A.T. experience.

The Trust for Public Land has protected 250,000 acres of land surrounding the Appalachian Trail, and in its viewshed. At the end of 2014, we saved a 5,700-acre property called Orbeton Stream from development that will keep the view pristine forever while also protecting valuable Atlantic Salmon habitat. And in 2013, we protected 12,000 acres surrounding the trail and ten miles of the trail itself at Crocker Mountain–the single largest conservation purchase along the Appalachian Trail in at least the last 15 years.

But there is a lot of work still to do, and we need your help.

The Trust for Public Land is currently partnering with Appalachian Trail Conservancy on a variety of conservation projects.  Here’s a sampling:

Appalachian Trail Corridor, Stamford, Vermont

We are busy working to conserve one of the most vulnerable sections of the Appalachian Trail that includes the Seth Warner Shelter in Vermont. This stretch of trail is poorly protected with a weak conservation easement that covers only 100 feet on either side of the trail and allows commercial logging within the easement corridor. This 383-acre property is at risk of development that could threaten not only the trail itself, but the water source for the shelter, which houses thousands of hikers each year. Addition of the property to the Green Mountain National Forest will enhance protection of the A.T. while forever protecting significant wildlife habitat, streams, and wetlands.

Public Trust Map 1

Redington Mountain, Maine

We’re forging new partnerships to advance our landscape-scale conservation objectives in western Maine.  Through a new collaboration with the U.S. Navy, The Trust for Public Land anticipates deploying base buffer funds for the first time in Maine with an opportunity to purchase a working forest easement over 9,987 acres immediately west of Crocker Mountain. Although the A.T. does not traverse the property, Redington Mountain provides a critical natural backdrop from 10 summits and multiple viewpoints along 35 miles of trail, including: Saddleback, the Horn, Saddleback Jr, Spaulding, and North and South Crocker.  In addition to inspiring hikers for decades, the property plays a central role as a refuge in a warming climate, providing critical habitat for Canada lynx, eastern Brook Trout, and Bicknell’s Thrush.

Perham Stream, Maine

Also in Maine, we’re working with a large timber company to purchase a conservation easement over  6,400 acres of working forestland.  The Perham Stream property shares a 1.5 mile border with the A.T. and the area can be seen from multiple viewpoints along the trail, including the alpine rides of Saddleback and the Side trail up Mt. Abram.  This section of the A.T. is one of the most demanding and least developed. Perham Steam, which bisects the property for 11 miles before flowing into Orbeton Stream, is federally designated Atlantic Salmon habitat that has supported returning salmon for the past 8 consecutive years.  The high elevation areas also support critical habitat for a variety of sensitive species including Canada lynx, moose, pine marten and Bicknell’s thrush.

Lone Mountain, Maine

If we can raise the funds, we have a contract in place to purchase a conservation easement over 1,200 acres of high-elevation habitat on Lone Mountain that shares a 1.7-mile boundary with the Appalachian Trail and protects the same viewshed as Perham Stream above. 

3 Ways to Help!

  • Join the #OurLand campaign: Spread the word by joining The Trust for Public Land’s national #OurLand campaign. Simply visit https://www.tpl.org/ourland  and tell us why the Appalachian Trail (or nature in general) matters to you. It’s easy to upload a photo and share with your social networks.
  • Share the #OurLand video on your Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, or blog to help get the word out.

  • We are always in need of donations to make projects like these a reality. You can make a contribution at https://www.tpl.org/donate


Thank you, and happy hiking!


About The Trust for Public Land

America’s open spaces are disappearing at a rate of 6,000 acres a day. Together, we can change that. Join The Trust for Public Land as we work with communities nationwide to conserve the land, water, and resources that keep us healthy and inspired. Since 1972, we’ve protected more than three million acres and created more than 5,000 parks and natural places for people to enjoy.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

What Do You Think?