The longest continuously marked footpath in the world, the Appalachian Trail spans 2,140 miles across fourteen states--from Georgia to Maine--and travels through vastly different natural and social environments. Now, in a lively and eye-opening introduction to this national treasure, TheAppalachian Trail Reader collects trail diaries, historical and personal essays, and poems that reflect the meaning of this great wilderness trail across both time and geography. Here are the works of both well-known writers and anonymous raconteurs, including Henry David Thoreau, James Dickey, Aldo Leopold, James MacGregor Burns, Richard Wilbur, and many others. The trail's founding fathers Benton MacKaye and Myron Avery speak here, too, about their visions and plans,while excerpts from Appalachian Trail hikers' journals, from the 1930s to the 1990s, provide a firsthand, intimate portrait of walking the trail. And throughout, scientists' close observation of the natural world mingle with poet's evocations of the sweetness or the rigors of the wildernessexperience. A patchwork quilt of voices, both eloquent and raw, The Appalachian Trail Reader presents a rich introduction to the trail for those planning a walking trip, and a vivid scrapbook for those who have already hiked its mountains or valleys.