Intrigued by the Appalachian Trail? Lots of people are, but not everyone wants to run their 2,186 miles. In Gardners, Pennsylvania, travelers interested in the trail and its history can learn all about it at the Appalachian Trail Museum, a dedicated trail facility that connects Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. Between these destinations, it passes through a dozen other states, for a total of 14 states, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. .
The museum, at 1120 Pine Grove Road, features exhibits that chronicle the founding, construction, and use of the trail since its opening in 1921. Located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park in Pennsylvania, halfway through the trail, the museum building is also a historic site and was used as a grain mill about 200 years ago. Directly opposite, the Pine Grove General Store is an iconic landmark for would-be hikers. The tradition among hikers is to stop at the store and do their best to eat half a gallon of ice cream before continuing their journey.
The Appalachian Trail Museum tells the story of its history
In its mission statement, the Appalachian Trail Museum is described as an active and positive advocate for the preservation and enjoyment of the Appalachian Trail. With its exhibits, programs, audio-visual presentations and publications, it tells the stories of the human experience of the Appalachian Trail. Artifacts and documents are professionally archived and the museum is managed by a board of directors as well as staff and volunteers. It also has a lounge for hikers and an indoor/outdoor storytelling centre.
The museum features exhibits focused on the trail’s founders, Benton MacKaye and Myron Avery, and early hikers, including Earl Shaffer, Grandma Gatewood, Gene Espy and Ed Garvey. The museum features the last shelter built by Shaffer, and a database of some 10,000 photos of hikers is available for viewing.
It was Mackaye who originally envisioned the trail. He was an avid Boston area land use planner and hiker. A Harvard graduate, Mackaye reportedly got the idea for the Appalachian Trail while exploring Stratton Mountain in Vermont. In an article he wrote for the American Institute of Architects, Mackaye described the trail as a place where city dwellers could get back to nature. Eventually, others became actively involved in the idealistic project, and the vision became a reality.
Today, the Appalachian Trail is the longest “hiking only” trail in the world, and most hikers only explore one section of the path, or in some cases several sections. In its entirety, the trail is marked with 165,000 signposts that hikers use to navigate their way. It is estimated that 2-3 million people walk part of the trail each year.
The museum offers accommodation in the ironmaster’s mansion
Day hikers who want to expand their walk into a longer adventure will be happy to know that the Appalachian Trail Museum operates an inn where hikers can spend the night. Called Ironmaster’s Mansion, it offers 28-bed dorm-style sleeping quarters that cost $25 per person per night. The fee covers the use of sheets, blankets, a washcloth and towel, as well as the use of showers and toilets. For $35 per night, hostel visitors receive breakfast and dinner. According to the hostel, breakfast includes pancakes and fruit, coffee and juice. Dinner consists of a pizza, a salad and a drink.
Private accommodation at Ironmaster’s Mansion is $60 per night Monday-Thursday and $80 Friday-Sunday. The hostel also has laundry facilities available to all overnight guests, and it can be booked for group gatherings such as meetings and celebrations, business meetings and retreats, and programs. educational.
The state park includes sections of trails and 700 acres of woodland
Pine Grove Furnace State Park, home of the Appalachian Trail Museum, offers nearly 700 acres of woodland in an area called South Mountain. It is at the northern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers many recreational activities in addition to the trail. It has two lakes, Laurel Lake and Fuller Lake, and a rail trail for cyclists. The state park is in the 85,000-acre Michaux State Forest, with plenty of additional hiking trails and scenic mountain views. Camping is allowed in the national forest and the national park.
For those who decide to hike along a section of the trail, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees Pine Grove Furnace State Park, offers these tips for a safe hike:
- Wear sturdy shoes to protect your feet.
- Pack the proper safety gear, like a first aid kit and poncho.
- Stay on the trail. If you stray off the trail, you risk getting lost or damaging sensitive habitats.
- Bring drinking water. Do not drink from streams, springs or lakes without first treating the water properly.
- Observe wildlife from a safe distance. Do not try to approach wild animals.
- Check the weather before hiking. It is not safe to hike in thunderstorms or when heavy snowfall is expected.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you will be back.