Rainbow Springs Lean-to, ME built 1971

Rainbow Springs Lean-to, ME built 1971

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More than just a dry roof over weary travelers, the shelters along the iconic Appalachian Trail provide a gathering place and a sense of community on America’s most famous footpath. Dotted an average of every eight miles along the 2,000-mile route, over 270 backcountry shelters have welcomed hikers on a first-come, first-served basis since the beginning of the trail’s inception and eventual completion in 1937.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) defines the term shelter, sometimes referred to as a lean-to, as a ‘three-sided structure, with or without bunks or floors, intended as overnight housing for hikers.’ The term shelter on the A.T. can also include enclosed structures, unlocked cabins and the hut system in the White Mountains run by the AMC. Built, maintained and preserved with thousands of hours by dedicated trail clubs and volunteers, shelters have always been and continue to be an integral part of the trail experience.

You can learn more about the history and design of all of the shelters on the Appalachian Trail in my new book, The Appalachian Trail Backcountry Shelters, Lean-tos and Huts, out May 2020 with Rizzoli Publications in New York.

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Harpers Creek ,VA built 1960

Harpers Creek ,VA built 1960