A Brief History
The Appalachian Mountains are a magnificent, narrow and extensive, mountain range that parallels the eastern coast of North America for approximately 4000 kilometers (2400 miles). The system extends along Eastern North America, through Western Newfoundland, to Belle Isle, located 20 km off the northern tip of the Northern Peninsula.
The Appalachian Mountains were formed in the Paleozoic Era more than 250 million years ago and contain a mixture of eroded mountains, lush valleys, high ridges and wide, dissected plateaus. Dense forests cover much of the system, while some rock structures date back to the Precambrian and early Paleozoic eras nearly 250 million years ago, making it one of the oldest mountain systems on Earth.
Appalachian Trail (AT)
This mountain system has had a tremendous impact upon our lives in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. As in other provinces of Canada and the eastern seaboard of the United States that share the mountain chain, the Appalachian Mountains have been one of the defining geo-systems that has shaped our economy and lifestyle, as we know them today.
This was realized in the United States when Benton MacKaye - an off-and-on federal employee, proposed the construction of a hiking trail as the connecting thread of "a project in regional planning." His proposal, "An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning" appeared in the October 1921 edition of the Journal of the American Institute of Architects, and drew on years of talk of a "master trail" within New England hiking circles.
MacKaye envisioned a trail along the ridge crests of the Appalachian Mountain chain from New England to the deep South, connecting farms, work camps, and study camps that would be populated by eastern urbanites needing a break from the tensions of industrialization. In the 1930's the state and federal employment programs greatly assisted the development of the Appalachian Trail.
Now a continuously marked footpath that goes north from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine, a distance of over 3,800 km, it is estimated that 3-4 million visitors hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail each year. To the south of Springer Mountain, the trail connects to the Florida Trail (3,075km) to form the Eastern Continental Trail, a total of 7,622km. This international trail is the longest in North America.
International Appalachian Trail (IAT) North America
The original Appalachian Trail system was given a new perspective in 1994 by former Maine Governor Joseph E. Brennan, who envisioned a trail extending to all Appalachian regions of North America. As a result of his efforts, the Sentier International des Appalaches / International Appalachian Trail (SIA/IAT) was formed.
Currently the trail extends north from Mount Katahdin, Maine (the northern terminus of the AT) and crosses the Canadian-American border at Perth-Andover, New Brunswick. From there it crosses New Brunswick to Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula, where it follows the Chic-Choc Mountains to Cap Forillon in Forillon National Park.
From Cap Forillon the IAT route re-enters New Brunswick and crosses the Confederation Bridge to Prince Edward Island where it runs east to Woods Island and the ferry to Pictou, Nova Scotia. Once in Nova Scotia the IAT heads east to Cape Breton, then on to the Newfoundland ferry terminal at North Sydney. In Newfoundland the IAT route extends north from Port aux Basques to Crow Head at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.
International Appalachian Trail (IAT) North Atlantic and Western Europe
In 2010 the IAT crossed the Atlantic Ocean, with new chapters in Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. In 2011 they were joined by Spain, and perhaps soon France, Portugal, and Morocco.
International Appalachian Trail Newfoundland Labrador (IATNL)
The Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of the IAT was formed at a general meeting held at Corner Brook in April, 2003. The goal of the Chapter is to extend the IAT an additional 1,200 km along the Long Range Mountains from Port aux Basques in southwestern Newfoundland to Crow Head (just east of L'Anse aux Meadows) at the northern tip of the Great Northern Peninsula.
Vision of the IATNL
The Appalachian Trail brand is a highly-recognized outdoor adventure product in North America and much of the world, contributing substantially to many of its connecting communities. While the west coast of Newfoundland encompasses the northern end of the ancient Appalachian Mountain range in North America, the IATNL has only recently begun developing and marketing its own extensive trail network.
The goal is to create a long-distance trail route extending from Port aux Basques in the south to Crow Head in the north, utilizing existing walking trails, logging roads, the Newfoundland T'Railway, and new sections of community and backcountry trails.