The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) recently announced the launch of its new Hiker Education Accreditation Program, which will certify qualified individuals to teach informational courses on hiking, backpacking, camping and sustainable outdoor practices. This program is designed to give Appalachian Trail (A.T.) hikers of all skill levels an opportunity to receive high-quality instruction about hiking safely and ethically in America’s backwoods.
“This program trains the trainer to spread key information far beyond the areas the Appalachian Trail Conservancy can physically reach, allowing competent and passionate instructors throughout the U.S. to offer ‘How to Hike the Appalachian Trail’ courses that we are proud to recommend,” said Morgan Sommerville, southern regional director for the ATC.
The Hiker Education Accreditation Program will help point hikers to expert course providers whose curriculum meets the ATC’s training requirements. This program is a partnership with individuals offering A.T. hiking courses concerning equipment selection, Leave No Trace principles and other skills that will maximize their enjoyment and protection of the A.T. hiking experience.
“These types workshops help hikers understand the types of questions they need to be asking themselves before they set foot on the Appalachian Trail,” said Chloë de Camara, ridgerunner/camp coordinator for the ATC.
As the world’s most popular long-distance hiking trail, the A.T. continues to experience increased visitation. Misuse of the Trail creates significant impacts on natural resources, but this damage can be prevented with proper training, planning and preparation.
“Hiking workshops also help hikers understand the crowding that is occurring on parts of the Appalachian Trail, particularly in Georgia during March and April when many hikers begin their northbound thru-hikes,” said de Camara. “Through this program, instructors will be better-equipped to discuss the value of spreading out Appalachian Trail use and camping by choosing an alternate thru-hike itinerary.”
The ATC encourages individuals currently delivering workshops about the A.T., day hiking, backpacking and long-distance hiking to apply for the Hiker Education Accreditation Program by March 10 by clicking here.