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About PATC


The PATC's reason for existence is the Appalachian Trail   (AT), a 2175 mile footpath between Mount      Katahdin in Maine and Springer Mountain in Georgia. These miles are divided into sections maintained by 30 trail clubs in cities along the length of the AT.  The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club's section starts at Pine Grove Furnace in Pennsylvania and ends at Rockfish Gap (the southern end of Shenandoah Park) amounting to 240 miles. We also maintain other regional trails, for a total of over 1,000 miles. 

After the National Trail Systems Act was passed by Congress in 1968, the PATC  became a partner of the National Park Service.  The NPS AT office is headquartered in Harpers Ferry under the title of the Appalachian Trail Park Office.  The 30 trail clubs are linked together by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, also in Harpers Ferry.

Since its inception, the trail club has had a wide variety of activities associated with building and maintaining the trail.  After our section of trail was completed in 1932, locked cabins came next for the trail workers, then trail guides and maps for the public,  shelters for overnight hikers, and a monthly newsletter.  All the programs of the club were and still are performed by volunteers.  Keeping accounts of all the work done on the trail became quite involved, so the club hired office staff to track the data-freeing volunteers for trail work.  Fortunately, the computer came along at this time making that job easier. 

The operation of PATC is accomplished by large teams of committees composed of energetic volunteers who enjoy the outdoors.  Today we have over 1,000 miles of trail to maintain and monitor:  the Appalachian Trail, the trail system in Rock Creek Park, the Tuscarora Trail, Prince William Park trails,  the Shenandoah National Park trail system,  the Massanutten Trail, and many others.  PATC trail crews do the heavy work and often respond to emergencies.  Overseers are volunteers who have committed to look after a 1- or 2-mile section of trail to maintain.  

We have 39 rental cabins-some primitive [meaning no electricity or running water]-and some are reserved for members only; these also have overseers.  We have a headquarters building, a sales department where we sell our guidebooks, maps, other kinds of trail-related books, some written by members.  The PATC maps are well-known for being current and easy to use.  The first guidebook had a print run of 500 and was quickly sold out; its title was Guide to Footpaths in the Blue Ridge.

PATC activities are published in the monthly newsletter Potomac Appalachian, in the Forecast section.  Other aspects of the trail club are administration, cabin reservations, webmaster, trail patrol, ridge runners, workshops of all kinds, public affairs, and education.  We have five chapters and two special interest sections.  Detailed information about all this can be found in the directory of this website.

PATC was started as an organization of private individuals who wanted a footpath along the ridges of the Blue Ridge Mountains for outdoor devotees.  A large history on the process of building the trail exists in our many books and articles written by club members and makes fascinating reading for history buffs.  You might also be interested in viewing this video of the early days of the AT. 

PATC is a non-profit, tax exempt public charity as described in section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

PATC Mission Statement      

"The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, through volunteer efforts, education and advocacy, maintains and protects the Appalachian Trail and nearby lands as well as acquiring and maintaining other trails and related facilities in the Mid-Atlantic region for the enjoyment of present and future hikers."

Since 1927 the Club has offered and will continue to offer outdoor experiences that allow all to appreciate the natural beauty of the land. As we hike and work, alone or together, we are the stewards of the land, ever mindful of the need to conserve the natural landscape with respect for historical and cultural features as well as the natural ecosystem.

Originally formed to develop a 240-mile section of the Appalachian Trail, PATC now maintains trails in wooded urban areas, suburban lands and county, state and national parks and forests. The club has responsibility for approximately 1,000 miles of trails, 1,000 acres of land and nearly 60 shelters and cabins. The trail system stretches over the four states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania and includes:
    - 240 miles of the Appalachian Trail 
    - most of the trails in Shenandoah National Park
    - most of the trails in Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.
    - the 18-mile Bull Run/Occoquan Trail in Fairfax County, Va

    - the Potomac Heritage Trail from Washington, D.C. to Riverbend Park in Fairfax County.

The Club is additionally now embarked on restoring, securing and maintaining the 260-mile Tuscarora Trail which loops from the Appalachian Trail near Front Royal Va. through West Virginia and reconnects with the Appalachian Trail near Carlisle, Pa. This trail will be a vital link in the Great Eastern Trail which is planned to reach from Alabama to the Finger Lakes in New York State.

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club welcomes all who would like to join us in our work to secure and maintain for generations to come the natural beauty of our lands. Work on trails, shelters, and cabins is performed solely by volunteers. PATC manages the efforts of over 600 volunteers performing this work so the public may enjoy the many trails in the PATC region. PATC's volunteer efforts in 2009 resulted in the contribution of more than 75,000 hours of manpower to various federal, state, and local government agencies.

PATC Charter      

"The name of the corporation shall be the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, its objectives shall be to build and maintain a portion of the Appalachian trail; to open, develop, extend, and maintain other trails for walkers, mountain climbers, and nature students in wooded and mountainous regions; to construct and maintain camp sites; to open shelters and permanent camps along the Appalachian Trail and other trails; to encourage the use of the trails by organizations and individuals; to collect data of interest to users of these trails concerning scenery, history, geology, botany, forestry, and wildlife; to prepare maps, guidebooks, and camping data; to test hiking, camping, and mountaineering equipment for better enjoyment of the out-of-doors; to educate the public in proper camping methods and safety in hiking, camping, and mountain climbing; and to foster public use appreciation and use of national and state parks and forest and other natural areas."