Plaque marks the trail; 2,144 miles from Maine to Georgia

by Joe Berger | 5/12/93 10:00pm

During the summer, College students often see hikers wandering through campus, outfitted with enough gear to make the trek across the Green look like a trek across New Hampshire's White Mountains.

The hikers are not lost -- just following the Appalachian Trail.

A plaque commemorating the Appalachian Trail's path through Hanover was dedicated last weekend by officers of the Class of 1954 and the Dartmouth Outing Club.

Hanover is one of only 12 towns the footpath passes through on its 2,144 mile route from Mt. Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Ga.

The bronze plaque was placed in the recently reconstructed sidewalk on the side of the Hanover Inn, on a spot through which the trail officially passes.

Several members of the Class of '54 were in Hanover for class officers' weekend. The plaque honors the class' upcoming 40th reunion, and will be dedicated a second time on National Trail Day, June 5.

The Appalachian Trail continues in a northeast direction down Main Street to the post office, down Lebanon Street to the Co-op food store, behind Chase fields, past the nearby Velvet Rocks shelter, on to the Skiway and Mt. Moosilauke, and north to Maine.

In a southwest direction, the trail crosses Ledyard bridge, picks up in Norwich, Vt. and continues south.

The Dartmouth Outing Club maintains more than 70 miles of the trail on the north and south side of Hanover.

"I think it's important to recognize the fact that Hanover is a friendly town," said Earl Jette, director of outdoor programs.

Jette said the plaque symbolizes cooperation between the Town of Hanover, hikers and the people who maintain the trail, usually volunteers from the Cabin and Trails division of the Outing Club.

"It's kind of like putting up a welcome sign that says 'welcome, hikers,'" Jette said.

The trail follows the Appalachian Mountains of eastern North America through 14 states, and became a part of the National Park System in 1968.

According to Jette, approximately 100 to 200 people hike the entire trail each year, starting in Georgia in the spring. These "through hikers" usually reach Hanover in July, and many stay overnight or for a few days.

Many more start or stop in Hanover to hike the trail for just a few weeks.

According to Jette, who has a map of the Appalachian Trail above his desk, the trail is not only the longest scenic footpath in the world, but the most famous as well.