Appalachian Trail Conservation Banner Brent McGuirt

A Strong Future

As guardians of the Appalachian Trail, our goal is to ensure it will be enjoyed for centuries to come.

Protection and Stewardship Icon

protection and stewardship

Our conservation work is focused on the protection and stewardship of land surrounding the Appalachian Trail (A.T.). This land base, spanning the Appalachian highland region from Georgia to Maine, connects significant state and federal lands. Running primarily along the ridgelines, Trail lands protect a migratory flywayand headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds. This protected area is one of the most significant greenways in the eastern United States.

Our conservation work is focused on identifying high priority tracts for permanent protection, working collaboratively with numerous conservation partners. We advocate funding for land protection and for best management practices to effectively steward these lands in perpetuity. We also play an important role as land managers, assisting with the natural resource management of corridor lands to ensure that the integrity of protected A.T. lands is upheld for future generations to experience and enjoy. We strive to base management decisions on sound science, and we work cooperatively with partners to develop our conservation approach. 


We care about protecting the experience we all have while hiking the A.T. Along with our partners, we are charged under the National Trails Systems Act to ensure that the scenic vistas and natural and cultural heritage of the Trail corridor is protected forever.

New House Bill Could Allow Mountain Bikes in A.T. Wilderness Areas

by Appalachian Trail Conservancy | Jun 24, 2019
<p style="text-align: left;"><strong>Updated 1/21/18</strong></p> <p style="text-align: left;">A federal piece of legislation &mdash; H.R. 1349 &mdash; could soon be considered by House congressional members. The bill proposes to open designated Wilderness Areas to mountain bikes and other forms of mechanical transport, breaking dramatically from the legislation passed as part of the Wilderness Act.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is strongly opposed to this bill because of its potential conflict with the purpose of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) as a world-premiere, footpath-only recreation experience. Bikes in the 25 Wilderness Areas along the Trail could drastically impact the hiking experience, as well as create significant additional work for our volunteers who maintain the upkeep of the A.T.'s treadway.</p> <br /> <h3 style="text-align: left;"> Why does the ATC object?</h3> <ul style="list-style-type:disc; padding-left: 20px;"> <li style="text-align: left;">When Congress established the National Trails System Act nearly 50 years ago, the A.T. was designated solely for foot-travel to preserve and honor the pleasures of walking. That distinction has been significant in the A.T.&rsquo;s appeal to travelers from around the world and the overall experience more than three million people enjoyed last year.</li> <li style="text-align: left;">How the A.T. might be affected by H.R. 1349 is of grave concern and puts the overall A.T. experience at risk. Could allowances for mountain bikes in Wilderness Areas overrule the vision and congressional intent to keep the A.T. open only for foot travel? Could some sections of the A.T. be required to allow bikes? And if so, what kind of management challenges would that pose? If passed, court challenges are anticipated to sort out these and many other questions.&nbsp;</li> <li style="text-align: left;">Click <strong><a href="" target="_blank">HERE</a></strong> to learn more about ATC&rsquo;s position.</li> </ul> <br /> <h3 style="text-align: left;">What about mountain bikes on trails?</h3> <p style=":text-align:;">While bicycles are incompatible with the nature and purposes of the Appalachian Trail and the Wilderness Act, ATC supports mountain biking and other sustainable forms of outdoor recreation on America&rsquo;s public lands, but not in federally designated Wilderness Areas.</p> <p style="text-align: left;">We work collaboratively with groups like the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) in defining new trail choices. Notably, IMBA does not support bikes in Wilderness Areas. Read IMBA's testimony <strong><a href=" " target="_blank">HERE</a></strong>.</p> <br /> <h3 style="text-align: left;">What can you do?</h3> <ul style="list-style-type:disc; padding-left: 20px;"> <li style="text-align: left;"><strong>Contact members of the House of Representatives and tell them to vote "No" on HR-1349.</strong> Click <strong><a href="" target="_blank">HERE</a></strong> to find contact information for your Congressional Representative.</li> <li style="text-align: left;">For a sample letter on this issue you can email to your representative, click one of the following links:</li> <ul style="list-style-type: circle; padding-left: 20px;"> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Microsoft Word Document (EDITABLE)</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">PDF Document (NOT EDITABLE &mdash; Copy and paste the text into a separate writing program)</a></li> </ul> <li style="text-align: left;"><strong><a href="" target="_blank">Support ATC with a donation.</a></strong> We will use your gift to fight against passage of this bill and to further our ongoing mission to protect the Appalachian Trail.</li> </ul> <br /> <h1 class="homeheader" style="text-align: center;"><span style="font-size: 18px;"><a class=" btn outlineBlue" href="" target="_blank" style="font-size: 18px;">CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE</a></span> <span style="font-size: 18px;"><a class=" btn outlineOrange" href="" target="_blank" style="font-size: 18px;">MAKE A DONATION</a></span></h1> <br /> <h3 style="text-align: left;">H.R. 1349 In the News</h3> <ul style="list-style-type:disc; padding-left: 20px;"> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Jan. 20 - "Wilderness: Legislation in Congress presses for a fundamental change in the rules" The Durango Herald</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Jan. 7 - "Should mountain bikers be allowed on Wilderness land?" - The&nbsp;Gazette</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Jan. 3 - "Keep mountain bikes out of wilderness areas" - Los Angeles Times</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 27 - </a><a href="" target="_blank">"Counterpoint: Keep mountain bikes out of the wilderness" - Star Tribune</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 23 - "Op-Ed: Bikes-in-Wilderness Bill Advances on Falsehoods and Distortions" - Sierra Sun Times</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 22 - "U.S. House panel passes bill to allow mountain biking in wilderness areas" - The Durango Herald</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 20 - "Cheney: Keep bikes off wilderness lands" - Jackson Hole News &amp; Guide</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 19 - "GOP lures some mountain bike groups in its push to roll back protections for public land" - Los Angeles Times</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 18 - "Bill to allow mountain bikes into wilderness areas takes next step" - Aspen Daily News</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 18 - "Bill would allow mountain biking in wilderness areas" - The Journal</a></li> <li style="text-align: left;"><a href="" target="_blank">Dec. 7 - "America's wilderness is no place for mountain bikes" - The Hill</a></li> </ul>

land protection

Protecting land along the A.T. has been a priority for Trail managers ever since the Trail was established. We have worked with state and federal agencies since 1982 to protect the lands surrounding the A.T., resulting in one of the most significant and successful land acquisition programs in the United States. Today there is a 250,000 acre greenway around the Trail that connects significant public lands in the eastern United States.

Boundary Corridor Lands by Brent McQuirt Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Boundary and Corridor Lands

Our Boundary Program protects the public's investment in the lands that surround the A.T. Volunteers from A.T. Maintaining Clubs work with us to monitor and maintain more than 1,500 miles of the Trail corridor's exterior boundary.

Natural and Cultural Resource Management Appalachian Trail Conservancy 

​Natural and Cultural Resource Management

The A.T. is about more than hiking. Trail lands protect headwater streams for major East Coast watersheds and also host hundreds of rare species. We work cooperatively with our partners to understand and monitor these resources.

trail management

Trail management encompasses the on–the-ground stewardship performed by volunteers and agency partners to maintain the Trail, its structures, and its natural and cultural resources. Management includes keeping the footpath clear of natural overgrowth and blowdowns; building and relocating sections of the footpath; building and repairing shelters and other structures; and caring for overnight sites. We coordinate this work, provide training, help set policy parameters, supply funding and other assistance to 31 Trail maintaining clubs, and recruit and manage volunteer Trail crews.

Appalachian Trail Crew Flexing Muscles

​Trail Crews

Our Trail Crews tackle large-scale projects like relocations and rehabilitation as well as bridge and shelter construction. The work is hard, but it's a great way to give back to the Trail that changed your life.

RidgeRunners and Caretakers by Laurie Potteiger

​Ridgerunners & Caretakers

More than 30 ridgerunners and caretakers help us promote a quality A.T. experience by educating hikers on how to minimize impact on the Trail.

Trail Management Policies AT Boundary Marker by Vincent Juarez

​Trail Management Policies

If you're an A.T. manager, here are links to Trail policies, planning guidance, and other volunteer management resources.

AT Community Program Logo

the appalachian trail community program

The Appalachian Trail Community™ program is designed to recognize communities that promote and protect the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).  Towns, counties, and communities along the A.T.’s corridor are considered assets by all that use the A.T. and many of these towns act as good friends and neighbors to the Trail. The program serves to assist communities with sustainable economic development through tourism and outdoor recreation, while preserving and protecting the A.T.

Youth and Community Engagement Appalachian Trail Conservancy

youth engagement

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s vision is to connect the human spirit with nature – preserving the delicate majesty of the Trail as a haven for all to enjoy. In order to realize that vision, we strive to incorporate groups that are underrepresented among ATC staff, A.T. visitors, and ATC constituents. We hope to create an ever-expanding community of doers and dreamers, and work to ensure that tomorrow’s generations will experience the same mesmerizing beauty we behold today.