Appalachian Trail in Virginia: 10 Facts You Didn’t Know

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Updated: June 16, 2022
© drewthehobbit/
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Measuring about 2,190 miles (3,524.5 km), the stunning Appalachian Trail begins in Springer Mountain, Georgia, and ends at Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail runs through ten states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Of all these states, Virginia has the most of the trail- and they’re pretty giddy about it too. Did you know that there is an entire Virginian Festival dedicated to the Appalachian Trail? This article takes a look into Virginia’s priceless trail. Discover 10 facts you didn’t know about the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.

1. Virginia Has A Festival Dedicated To the Appalachian Trail

In 1987, the city of Virginia founded the “Appalachian Trail Days Festival.” The festival takes place every year from May 13 to 15. Appalachian Trail lovers from all over the world get together and celebrate the Appalachian Trail.

Although the festival has only been going on for 35 years (as of 2022), it is very popular with the people of Virginia and is attended by thousands of people each year. Most attendants are hikers or volunteers who love and appreciate the Appalachian Trail.

2. Benton MacKaye Conceived the Appalachian Trail in 1921

Benton MacKaye conceived the Appalachian Trail in 1921.


The Appalachian Trail was conceived by Benton MacKaye in 1921. Mackaye was said to have developed the idea when he was in Vermont’s Stratton Mountain sitting on a tree. The Appalachian Trail was officially completed in 1937, 16 years after. It is said that he didn’t have a lot to do with the actual creation of the trail. Fifty years after the trail was completed, the Appalachian Trail festival was started.

3. The Appalachian Mountains Are Over 1 Million Years Old

Several parts of the Appalachian mountains are over one million years old.


The Appalachian Trail runs along the ridgeline of the Appalachian Mountains. Some parts of the mountain are said to be more than 1 billion years old, making them one of the oldest mountains on the surface of the earth. It is said to have more than 50 species of mammals and over 60 documented species of mussels.

4. Virginia Has A Quarter Of The Appalachian Trail

The state of Virginia has the largest piece of the trail with 2,905,584 feet (550.3 miles). This amounts to a quarter of the trail, including about 105,600 feet (20 miles) that run along the West Virginia state line. In contrast, West Virginia has only 4 miles of the trail, excluding the distance along the West Virginia state line.

Here are the Appalachian Trail’s States and how much of the trail they have:

  1. Georgia: 75 miles (121 km)
  2. North Carolina: 95.7 miles (154.0 km)
  3. Tennessee: 71 miles (114 km)
  4. Virginia: 550.3 miles (885.6 km)
  5. West Virginia: 4 miles (6.4 km) {not including about 20 miles (32 km)}
  6. Maryland: 41 miles (66 km)
  7. Pennsylvania: 229.6 miles (369.5 km)
  8. New Jersey: 72.2 miles (116.2 km)
  9. New York: 88.4 miles (142.3 km)
  10. Connecticut: 2 miles (84 km)
  11. Massachusetts: 90 miles (140 km)
  12. Vermont: 150 miles (240 km)
  13. New Hampshire: 161 miles (259 km)
  14. Maine: 281 miles (452 km)

5. The Appalachian Trail Organization Is One of The Largest Volunteer Conservations In The World

The Appalachian Trail Organization runs and manages the Appalachian Trail. The organization is made up of volunteers who make use of donations from kindhearted persons. The entire trail is divided into 31 sections, each managed by a club. The clubs are made of thousands of volunteers who devote their time and money to maintaining and improving the trail.

Club volunteer workers paint blazes pointing out excavating trail reroutes. By dividing the trail into sections, the organization can effectively care for the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail Organization is one of the largest and longest-running volunteer conservation organizations in the world.

6. A 4-Year-Old Completed the Trail in 2020

Almost all hikers on the Appalachian trail go by nicknames. They introduce themselves and fill out logbooks using their nicknames. M.J Eberheart and Juniper Netteburg, two people on record hiked the trail using their nicknames. J. Eberheart, the man on record for hiking the trail at 83-years-old on November 8, 2021, was called “Nimblewill Nomad.” Juniper Netteburg made history by completing the trail at 4 years of age on October 13, 2020. She was called “The Beast.”

7. No Hiker Attempted A Thru-Hike For Quite A While

Although the trail was completed in 1937, no one attempted a thru-hike till Earl Shaffer did in 1948.  Shaffer was a World War II veteran from Pennsylvania. He decided to hike the trail to walk “the Army out of my system.” It is unclear how long he took to do this, but we know that he walked the trail twice more before his death.

Not many people have actually hiked the entire trail in a stretch. People who do this are called thru-hikers. There are only about 20,000 thru-hikers on record since 1936. It takes an average of 5 million steps to hike the entire trail, which makes Earl Shaffer, Juniper Netteburg, and every other thru hiker’s achievements even more commendable.

8. The Fastest Person To Hike The Appalachian Trail Did It In 41 Days

Another notable achievement was by Karel Sabbe who completed the trail in 41 days, 7 hours, and 39 minutes. Although we do not know Karel’s nickname, we do know that he was a Belgian dentist. The average time taken to complete the trail is 5 to 7 months.

9. The Appalachian Trail’s Length Is About 400 Times the Height of Mount Everest

Big Bald
The Appalachian trail’s length is about 400 Mount Everest’s height.

©Brian Stansberry / Creative Commons – License

The Appalachian Trail’s estimated length is pegged at 11,563,200 feet or 3,530,901 meters (2,194 miles). This is almost 400 times the height of Mount Everest which measures 29,032 feet or 8,849 meters (5.5 miles).

10. The Phrase “Hiking the Appalachian Trail” Sometimes Has Nothing To Do With Hiking

In 2009, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford had not been spotted for 6 days and the media began to ask questions. His staff and aide replied that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. However, it turned out that that was not at all true. Instead, the governor was visiting his mistress in Argentina. Of course, this turned into a huge scandal.

Shockingly, the scandal didn’t affect him as he continued to hold his post and even held yet another political post. It, however, gave an entirely different meaning to hiking the Appalachian Trail- at least in South Carolina!

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Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
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