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Why Individuals Hike the Appalachian Trail: A Qualitative Approach to Benefits

Marni Goldenberg, California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo
Eddie Hill, Old Dominion University
Barbara Freidt, Old Dominion University

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Copyright © 2008 Association for Experiential Education.

Abstract

The Appalachian Trail (AT) is a 2,175 mile–long National Scenic Trail extending from Maine to Georgia. Since its inception in the early 1920s, individuals, families, schools, and other organizations, just to name a few, have used the AT. Approximately 3 to 4 million visitors hike a portion of the AT each year (ATC, 2006). Throughout its 80year history and millions of hikers, much of the empirical research on the AT has focused on place attachment (Kyle, Graefe, & Manning, 2004; Kyle, Graefe, Manning, & Bacon, 2003). While Nisbett and Hinton (2005) explored motivations for AT hikers with disabilities, only limited research could be found on understanding motives among other AT users. In addition, researchers have indicated a need to further examine “types” of hikers (i.e., day, weekender, section, and thru) of the AT (Kyle et al., 2004). To better understand the AT hiker, the means-end theoretical framework was used.

Suggested Citation

Marni Goldenberg, Eddie Hill, and Barbara Freidt. "Why Individuals Hike the Appalachian Trail: A Qualitative Approach to Benefits" Journal of Experiential Education 30.3 (2008): 277-281.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/mgoldenb/15