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North Adams Marks Its Place On The Appalachian Trail

The city of North Adams is calling attention to the fact that it lies along the 2,190-mile Appalachian Trail by becoming an official A.T. community.Joshua Moran is a North Adams city councilor who lives about a hundred yards from the Appalachian Trail. Hikers are liable to see four bicycles parked on his lawn — for them to take into town.

“It’s a lifeline,” Moran said. “It’s Georgia to Maine and we’re a part of it. When people embark on this really ambitious journey they have to come through our community.”

Having hiked numerous sections of the A.T., Moran has successfully led an effort to designate North Adams as an official A.T. Community under the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

“We offer a chance for thru-hikers and section hikers to refuel whether it’s food at the Super Stop & Shop that’s only about a quarter-mile from the trail,” Moran said. “There are some gear stores. One located in Williamstown and one in Adams that people have an opportunity to check back in before they, if they’re heading northbound, tackle the Green Mountains and the White Mountains and if they’re heading southbound it’s tackling Mt. Greylock and the rest of Massachusetts as they continue on to Georgia.”

The Conservancy launched its community program in 2006. North Adams is the 39th designated across the 14 states the A.T. runs through and just the second in Massachusetts. Great Barrington received the designation in 2010. Julie Judkins is the Conservancy’s education and outreach director. She says communities use the designation in different ways; as an educational tool or to boost tourism.

“Some of them have really done a great job in terms of working cooperatively locally or regionally on everything from marketing campaigns to stewardship opportunities,” Judkins said. “We feel it’s a really great program and providing a lot of protection and support for the trail on the ground.”

A kiosk with a map of the Massachusetts section of the trail near Greylock Elementary School is one of the more noticeable signs of the A.T. in North Adams aside from the white blazes on trees and utility poles that mark the trail. Moran says it’s a bulletin board for area businesses and hikers.

“So it kind of becomes an opportunity for local businesses to say ‘Hey, we want to help you guys out. Thanks for coming to our community,’” Moran said. “It’s also an opportunity for the local trail club to educate people where they’re expecting to camp or where they can find other services.”

Moran says he wanted the designation to raise local awareness of the A.T. as an asset, something only communities along the 2,190-mile trail can boast. And it seems to be working.

“Throughout the summer I’ve had people say ‘Boy, are there a lot more hikers this year than usual?’” Moran said. “I say ‘I’m sure there’s more, but I think you’re just becoming aware of them.’”

Judkins says 3 million people hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail each year, a number that’s increased recently with the popularity of hiking movies like A Walk In The Woods and Wild, both based on books. Moran says he’s been contacted by a person in Dalton looking to have that town designated as an A.T. community. In New York, Warwick is a designated community along with a joint recognition for Dover and Pawling.

Members of the A.T. Conservancy will be in North Adams to celebrate the city’s designation Saturday. Click here for a list of events, including hikes.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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