Hikers’ bad behavior to be addressed
Officials with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and the National Park Service say they will work to address bad behavior by long-distance hikers that has caused tensions at Maine’s Baxter State Park.
Trail representatives visited Maine on Friday to discuss the problems.
The park is home to the 2,190- mile trail’s final summit on Mount Katahdin. Officials say a growing number of “thru-hikers” have been flouting park rules by openly using drugs and drinking alcohol and camping where it’s not permitted. An ultramarathoner who set the speed record for completing the trail paid a $500 fine last month over his celebration atop Katahdin, in which he popped a bottle of champagne while surrounded by a group of more than a dozen supporters.
Park director Jensen Bissell warned that if concerns about the effects long-distance hikers have on the park are not addressed, the Appalachian Trail might have to find a different northern ending point. As a result, a task force of Maine and national groups has talked monthly to address the concerns.
Members of Baxter’s governing board asked Friday for specific steps before spring’s hiking season to protect the wilderness of the area that it says has a “profound significance” to Maine residents, the Portland Press Herald reported.
An estimated 3 million people hike part of the trail annually, with only a small percentage who attempt to hike the entire route from Georgia to Maine.