I’ve been waiting for this…
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy launched its redesigned website yesterday, and it sure is spiffy. The new website design features new photo and video content and updated information about the AT that can help people prepare for hikes of any length along its 2,190 miles, according to a recent press release by the ATC.
The first thing that caught my eye when I visited the newly designed site, appalachiantrail.org, is how much the home page encourages people to explore the AT.
I found this interesting because there has been so much talk recently about the growing popularity of the AT, the crowded hostels and shelters, and how trail organizations are struggling to deal with the increasing number of hikers. Based on this new website design, the ATC is responding to these problems through education about hiking and camping responsibly, as well as encouraging people to “find a hike that is perfect for you.”
The vast majority of people who have hiked the entire AT hike it from south to north, starting in early spring in Georgia. In effort to spread out the hiker crowds on the AT, it appears that the ATC is stressing the option of “alternative thru-hikes,” section hikes and day hikes as ways to explore the trail.
ATC website also provides information about how to avoid popular thru-hike start dates, as well as information about the option to hike the trail from north to south.
“The redesigned site presents information about the trail in a simple yet inspirational way, allowing both novice and advanced hikers to responsibly prepare for any type of adventure on the A.T.,” the Appalachian Trail Conservancy states in the press release.
The website is now more of an immersive experience, with real-time photos from the trail streamed to the site when social media users utilize the hashtag #AT2015. The website also highlights the ATC’s official blog, the latest news from the trail and the events that take place in the trail communities from Georgia to Maine.
“In order to increase awareness about the challenges the Appalachian Trail faces, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy recognizes the need to modernize,” said Folgar in a prepared statement. “The redesigned website is easy for all to use and will generate greater interest in the Appalachian Trail and the work the Appalachian Trail Conservancy does to keep the Trail in exceptional condition.”
An interactive map of the trail is also available, giving shelter locations, parking options and more. The site also highlights each of the 14 states that the trail passes through, presenting a mileage overview, an elevation profile, fun facts and an image gallery.
“Providing people with the necessary tools that allow them to enjoy their hikes is a critical component of the redesigned site,” said Javier Folgar, the ATC’s director of Marketing and Communications, in a prepared statement. “In addition, it is vital that hikers are well prepared and understand the importance of correct trail ethics.”
As before, the redesigned website provides materials on Leave No Trace principles, which trail users are expected to follow in order to keep the trail clean and safe.
Also featured on the homepage of the website is a link to a page that outlines the numerous ways visitors can give back to the AT in the form of donations, volunteer work and purchasing memorabilia at the ATC online store.
“The redesigned site streamlines the process of giving,” ATC states in the recent press release. “With the recent release of the film ‘A Walk in the Woods,’ and the expected increase of trail users, contributions are even more critical at this time.”
The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park System, the AT ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,190 miles in length. It is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world. The mission of the ATC is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail.