5 comments on “How Many People Hike the AT and PCT?

  1. One more data point needs to be “creation of the internet to the masses”. Pre-’95 or so, you had to actually search to find someone who had hiked it before to secure a mentor, or just wing it. Post internet, there are hundreds if not thousands of resources to learn from. I doubt there are more than a few dozen who start hiking a long trail without at least some research time that is internet based. Pre-90’s the Philosopher’s guide and the later incarnations were the closest thing to an expert you had unless you were lucky enough to know a thru-hiker locally. Do they have data for attempt/completion rates thru the same year spans? I bet the mid-90’s saw a huge jump in success rate, too.

    • I agree! I did a rough calculation of completion rates based on the graphs above, and it seemed like rates went from around 20% in the early 90s to near 40% in the last few years, but those calculations were very rough. ATC told me the completion rate has stayed steady at around 25-30% over time. My thoughts are that the widespread use of the Internet must help research for prospective hikers a ton, but it’s still amazing when you go to Springer how many people have clearly done NO research at all (showing up with axes and machetes, or Walmart tents and cotton clothing), or listen to uninformed gear store clerks (carrying half of REI in their pack). Maybe if you broke the success rate down between people who did some amount of research and people who did very little, the Internet would almost certainly have a huge effect. There’s a lot more research to be done, that’s for sure 🙂

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