The Appalachian Trail: Backcountry Shelters, Lean-Tos, and Huts (Book)

The Appalachian Trail: Backcountry Shelters, Lean-Tos, and Huts By Sarah Jones Decker Cover Image

The Appalachian Trail: Backcountry Shelters, Lean-Tos, and Huts (Book)


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A complete guide to the Appalachian Trail shelters that provide a gathering place and a sense of community along America's most famous footpath.

Whether you have spent a night or six months on the Appalachian Trail, every hiker eventually experiences one of the trail's iconic lean-tos or huts. More than 250 such backcountry structures exist on the 2,200-mile route, and they have welcomed hikers since the trail's inception in 1937. The Appalachian Trail organizes and assembles every single shelter for the first time in this informative and unique resource packed with trail and shelter photos, information, and detailed maps.

Photographer and writer Sarah Jones Decker thru-hiked the AT in 2008 and re-hiked it again in 2018 and 2019 for this massive documentary project. Decker worked with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy--and in collaboration with the trail community of hikers, historians, photographers, writers, and clubs--to produce this first-of-its-kind resource. It is the ideal gift for anyone planning or dreaming of a hike on the AT.
Sarah Jones Decker ("Harvest," GA-ME '08) is a Virginia native who started section hiking the AT in her teens. Living close to two AT trail towns (Hot Springs, North Carolina, and Erwin, Tennessee), she continues to be connected to the trail and its community. Her work can be found at and The Appalachian Trail Conservancy's mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail--ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come.
Product Details ISBN: 9780847867721
ISBN-10: 0847867722
Publisher: Welcome Books
Publication Date: April 7th, 2020
Pages: 304
Language: English
“As a result of over 200 section hikes and countless hours of collaboration with the ATC, hikers, historians, photographers, writers, and maintaining clubs in the Trail community—Sarah has produced a first-of-its-kind resource packed with Trail and shelter photos, history, information, and detailed maps.” — A.T. Journeys Magazine, the membership magazine of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

“I had the good fortune to chat with Sarah Jones Decker about her book of Appalachian Trail shelters on my podcast recently. Sarah is a photographer and took on a project to not only visit but also document and photograph each of the over 275 shelters along the trail. She kindly sent me a copy of her book, and I found it to be endlessly fascinating. I was drawn back to the time I spent in and around many of these shelters, having thru-hiked the trail in 2014 and 2019. The shelters are intrinsic to the trail and provide much of the social interaction for thru- section-, and day-hikers. Sarah captures those moments beautifully. I highly recommend this book.” 
—Steve “Mighty Blue” Adams, Author, Podcaster, Speaker:

“There have been scores, even hundreds, of guidebooks, memoirs, coffee-table books, and even illustrated children’s books published about the trail. So kudos to anyone who comes up with a new idea that’s not just original, but necessary, which is exactly what AT thru-hiker (class of ’08), photographer, writer, mother, and farmer Sarah Jones Decker has done with her deeply appealing, highly informative new photographic survey of shelters. Infused with the spirit of the trail on every page, the book serves as everything from a kind of magic carpet for AT veterans missing the trail to a genuinely useful introduction for newcomers to North America’s most famous long trail. It’s just one of those books I want to spend a lot of time with. Even if you haven’t yet hiked on the AT, I highly recommend the book. Cumulatively, the photos, essays, graphics, and maps come together for a surprisingly comprehensive portrait of what it’s like to be on the trail. Future hikers who study the book will have all kinds of fun and funky details with which to regale their fellows.”
—Clay "Pony" Bonnyman for The Trek

“Packed cover to cover with detailed history, images, stories, and maps, the stout book is a dang fine companion for a morning’s first cup of coffee or a cold drink at the end of the day—both perfect times to day dream of your next adventure.” — Field Mag

“This is THE book on ‘The Shelters of the Earth,’ and will be in hikers hands and backpacks and under the cots of the AT shelters, lean-tos, and huts this summer. I treasure the arrangement of pics and text, and the smiling nine-month old hiking buddy, Josephine, on page 14. I expect copies will be in her grandchildren’s backpacks and on shelter shelves in 2070. With taped-on covers!” —Patricia Sacks, DV/AMC Shelter Chairman and Director of Libraries, Cedar Crest + Muhlenberg Colleges