The Appalachian Trail (AT) is roughly 2180-ish miles (it varies every year as the trail is re-routed off of private land or roads) and passes through 14 states from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME. It passes through Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
The trail was completed in 1937 and Earl Shaffer was the first one to thru-hike, or hike the entire trail in one season in 1948. National Geographic published an article on Shaffer’s hike in August of 1949 which was the first public exposure for the AT.
While the trail itself is maintained by public entities (National Park Service and US Forest Service) and maintaining clubs, the trail is supported by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). The AT became one of the first two trails protected under the National Trails System Act of 1968.
Ed Garvey published the first comprehensive book, Appalachian Hiker, about hiking the AT in the early 1971, and the first boom in AT hiking was born. Prior to 1970, only 59 people had reported completing the AT. From 1970 to 1979, that number exploded to 775.
Bill Bryson published A Walk in the Woods in 1998, and again traffic on the trail skyrocketed. The jump is referred to as ‘The Bryson effect’. A 2015 movie about the book is expected to cause yet another jump in traffic on the trail. From 2000-2009, nearly 6000 completions were reported to the ATC.
View a listing of 2000 milers and statistics about completions over the years: http://www.appalachiantrail.org/home/community/2000-milers
Read more about the Appalachian Trial from the AT museum website: http://www.atmuseum.org/feature-articles.html
Read more about the Appalachian Trial from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appalachian_Trail