Last year a group of European nations endorsed a project to extend the International Appalachian Trail across the Atlantic. Over the weekend, Ireland announced that it will officially become a part of the IAT.
The original Appalachian Trail, completed in 1937, extends roughly 2175 miles from Springer Mountain in Georgia, to Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Between 1995 and 2002, the AT was extended north into Canada. This extension, known as the International Appalachian Trail, treks 1900 miles from Mt. Katahdin to Belle Isle in northern Newfoundland.
Although this extension of the AT is completely logical, as the Appalachians extend all the way into that part of Canada, the rationale for the extension into Europe and North Africa is a little tenuous, at best.
The Appalachian range was created millions of years ago when the continental plates of North America and Europe collided. After the continents split apart, the mountains of eastern Europe and North Africa would became known as the Caledonian and Atlas Mountains. Thus, as the thinking goes, since the multiple mountain ranges were once part of one super range, it follows that the Appalachian Trail should traverse the entire historical range on all three continents.
The new Irish link will start at the spectacular coastal cliffs of Slieve League in County Donegal and extend to the stunning Antrim coast, finishing in Ballycastle, and for the most part, will use existing trails.
Once completed, the IAT will become the largest trail network in the world, with multinational membership on three continents.