Like the people who hike it, the Appalachian Trail is always moving.
Technically, Tuesday marks the 75th anniversary of its completion. But the 2,180-mile path stretching across 14 states from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Katahdin, Maine, is never really finished.
It took 15 years for hundreds of volunteers, state and federal partners, trail maintenance clubs and young workers with the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps to build the original path. In the decades since, nearly 99 percent has been relocated or rebuilt, and transferred from private to public ownership.
That means the trail and some 250,000 contiguous acres are better-protected than ever from development and suburban sprawl.
It will always be in the same general area, said Mark Wenger, executive director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry. But as access to waterways or scenic landscapes along the trail becomes available for purchase, it will continue to shift.
“Will it move a little to the left, a little to the right?” he said. “Yes, depending on the physical attributes of the area.