The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and the Mount Rogers Appalachian Trail Club (MRATC) are excited to announce that approximately 20 miles of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) through the Mount Rogers High Country and Grayson Highlands are available for adoption by new volunteers. This is a rare opportunity for hiking enthusiasts to refer to a portion of the high country as “my section of the Trail.”
MRATC is a dedicated group of volunteers responsible for maintaining roughly 60 miles of the A.T. This section begins at the Tennessee-Virginia state line and continues through the town of Damascus, Mount Rogers High Country and Grayson Highlands State Park before reaching the south fork of the Holston River. This section is commonly referred to as one of the most scenic sections of the 2,190-mile footpath.
“It takes about 7,000 volunteers each year to preserve and protect the Appalachian Trail, but only a few hundred take on the added honor and responsibility of maintaining a section,” said Andrew Downs, ATC regional director for central and southwest Virginia. “Volunteers often wait years for an opportunity to adopt a section, especially a section as beautiful as the Mount Rogers High Country. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for A.T. enthusiasts in southwest Virginia.”
The Mount Rogers High Country drapes the shoulders of the two highest peaks in the state and is known for its boulder-strewn grassy balds, herds of wild ponies, expansive views and a high-elevation spruce-fir forest. Due to the area’s unique environment and popularity with hikers, MRATC wants to ensure these sections are not left without section monitors for long.
New section monitors will be asked to join MRATC and participate in three training events: an informational meeting, an “Introduction to Trail Maintenance” workshop provided by the ATC and at least one MRATC work trip. Those who complete this training will be assigned their unit of the A.T. at a celebration hosted at Damascus Brewing Company in Damascus. New section monitors must commit to this role for at least one year and will be mentored by an experienced club volunteer.
Two informational meetings will be held to provide more information for those interested in a section monitor position. The first meeting will be held on Sept. 15 at 6 p.m. at the Henderson School of Appalachian Arts in Marion; the second will be held on Sept. 18 at 3 p.m. at the Damascus Library. Those interested can also contact the ATC’s Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 540.904.4393.