The release of the movies “Wild” and “A Walk in the Woods” in 2014 resulted in a huge backpacking boom that saw a 1000% increase in the number of thru-hikers and section hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Things were never quite the same on the AT after that and it got even weirder than before.
Here’s a look at what we predict the Appalachian Trail experience will be like 10 years into the future in the year 2025.
1. After more federal funding cuts, The Appalachian Trail Conservancy sells Adopt-a-Trail sponsorships to major corporations for segments of the trail to help finance trail maintenance and improvements.
2. With so many more hikers hiking the trail, the treadway is split down the middle into a fast lane and a slow lane.
3. The sides of the trail are lined with tiny LED lights for night hikers.
4. The ATC starts awarding 2000 mile certificates to hikers using the Virtual Reality AT Thru-hiker Game, if they complete 2000 miles on a treadmill which simulates PUDS while wearing a VR helmet.
5. The International Appalachian Trail is extended to include a section of trail on the Moon.
6. Trip Advisor starts rating hiker hostels.
7. Zagats publishes the AT Restaurant Guide with ratings for restaurants, pubs, delis, and pot bars along the AT.
8. The states along the trail set up toll booths at their borders to collect entry fees from thru-hikers and section hikers.
9. Most universities offer college credit for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.
10. Amidst heath concerns, trail angels that offer cooked food along the trail must post a restaurant health inspection rating.
11. The Appalachian Trail is declared non-smoking, except for designated spots outside shelters.
12. The standard lean-to shelters are replaced with Japanese capsule style sleeping bays for individual hikers. This switch was needed to accommodate the huge influx of hikers and the fact that night hikers want to sleep during the day. The new capsule shelters can house more hikers at a time because their sleeping berths are stacked.