(Update: ‘ultra runner’ Karl Meltzer has just set a new record for completing the Appalachian Trail, in under 46 days, fuelled by sweets and beer and bacon. Story here)
Generally speaking, Appalachia is thought of as being much smaller than its actual area - the purple, yellow and red areas on the map below, from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Yet it pushes both further south and west, and also up into the north east.
Greater Appalachia map
In the town of Indiana, Pennsylvania, they have an annual Northern Appalachian Folk Festival each year, which was just last weekend. Yet the Appalachian Trail, the famous hiking route (I’ve only done a few of its 2200 miles) carries on even further, right up through New York State into New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
The highest peaks in the Appalachian mountains are in the northern area (Mount Washington in NH ia 6,288 feet; Mount Katahdin in Maine is 5268 feet) and in the south central area (Great Smoky Mountains are over 6000 feet). Mount Mitchell, again in the south central area, is the highest of all, at 6,684 feet.
25 million people live here, about 40% of which are classified as rural dwellers.
Over the past few years the Appalachian Trail has been extended, up into eastern coastal Canada, into Ulster and Scotland, passing through Greenland and Iceland on the way, and from Scotland into Scandinavia. The International Appalachian Trail website is here. What they’ve done is to include the existing Ulster Way, and a walking route through Donegal.
NB: The AGM of the International Appalachian Trail will be held at the Ulster-American Folk Park on 22nd September (Thursday of this week) - see here.
Appalachian Trail map
International Appalachian Trail - Ulster section map