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Shared Appalachian Trail Access - Hunters & Hikers

Appalachian Trail Provides Access to Hikers and Hunters

Designated as a National Scenic Trail in 1968, the over 2,100-mile long Appalachian Trail (AT) provides a unique opportunity for individuals and groups to hike from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. In Georgia, the Trail rises at times to an elevation of over 4,400 feet and follows mountainous ridges some 80 miles through areas receiving various degrees of official designations such as wilderness, wildlife management area, or scenic areas featuring a wide array of wildlife and their habitats. The combination of hiking and wildlife viewing as well as hunter access provides a natural attraction for many user groups to the AT.

With the privilege of access comes responsibility on both the part of the hunter and the hiker to minimize conflicts between the two user groups. It is required by law that hunters born after January 1, 1961 successfully complete a hunter education course prior to purchasing a season hunting license. The course teaches numerous hunting safety issues and responsibilities, specifically the need to exercise caution when hunting near heavily used trails such as the AT. Additionally, hunters are trained to "Identify Your Target," a theme recognized by the U.S. Forest Service, Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, and the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club to remind hunters to exercise good judgment when hunting by properly identifying the target AND what's behind or around the target.

When hiking or camping along the Appalachian Trail, users should recognize their responsibility of being aware that they are not the only people in the woods. When hiking through Georgia and other states during hunting season, it is strongly recommended to wear blaze orange vests and hats. Increased hiker visibility will greatly reduce any chance of mistaken identity by a hunter as well as improve hiker safety in the case of finding a lost hiker or simply spotting a fellow group hiker.

The Appalachian Trail and the National Forests lands through which it travels are truly a national scenic treasure to be enjoyed by all. With responsible actions on the part of all who use the AT, it can be a safe, enjoyable and rewarding experience for hikers, campers and hunters alike.

For more information on hiking the Appalachian Trail, visit www.georgia-atclub.org. Information on Georgia's hunting seasons can be reviewed here.

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