We did it! The Girl Scouts hiked the ENTIRE Appalachian Trail in “bits & pieces!”

by jenniferpfister on November 29, 2012

From Monday, March 12, 2012 (Girl Scouts 100th birthday) to Wednesday, October 31, 2012 (Juliette Gordon Low’s 152nd birthday) 8,207 Girl Scouts of all ages (from 5 to 95) picked a section of the Appalachian Trail to hike in honor of Girl Scouts of the USA’s 100th anniversary. A total of 639 troops/groups hit the trail and got outside to celebrate!

Our event’s Honorary Chair Mary “Mama Boots” Sands inspired this celebratory hike. As a Girl Scout Leader in Kentucky (Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana) she began hiking and backpacking the Appalachian Trail in the early 1970s. Over the course of nearly 20 years, accompanied by groups of Girl Scout girls and adults, she eventually hiked the entire 2000+ miles of the AT – in bits and pieces or section-hiking. She even wrote an adventure story about her hiking travels with her Girl Scouts over the years – Appalachian Trail in Bits and Pieces.

As the first Girl Scouts in 1912 hiked in the Georgia mountains, we again took to the mountains to hike as we have done over the past 100 years. For some it was their first time, for others it was their 10th time or more. Girl Scouts from 31 states & Girl Guides from 3 countries (Canada, France & Great Britain) hiked the Appalachian Trail in “bits and pieces” covering a total of 10,670 miles. The Appalachian Trail itself is only 2,180 miles long so Girl Scouts left their footprints and giggles on the trail again and again.

Shortest distance section hike: ¼ mile by Senior Troop 905, Albemarle County, VA
To include a wheelchair-abled troop member in the hike – four girls and two adults hiked the ¼ mile ADA accessible portion of the Bear Mountain Loop in Bear Mountain, New York!

Longest distance section hike: 500 miles by Joan Mayer, GS alum
“I started on March 12- March 17 and hiked from Compton Gap (mile marker 10.9 in Shenandoah National Park to the MD-West VA state line in Harpers Ferry.) I am a leader whose troop graduated from high school last year, and it is my goal to section hike about half the trail this hiking season to add to my ongoing section hike, which started several years ago in a GS training course! I am also a member of the ATC.”

Most Popular AT Sections Signed-Up to Hike

  • Bear Mountain (New York)
  • Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)
  • Smoky Mountains National Park (Tennessee, North Carolina)
  • Harpers Ferry (West Virginia)
  • Susquehanna River area (Pennsylvania)
  • Mount Rogers (Virginia)
  • Springer Mountain (Georgia)
  • Stairway to Heaven (New Jersey)
  • Peter’s Mountain (Pennsylvania)
  • Pine Grove Furnace State Park (Pennsylvania)
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (New Jersey/Pennsylvania)
  • Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia)
  • McAfee’s Knob/Dragon’s Tooth region (Virginia)

The Great Girl Scout Hike has come to an end as an anniversary celebration yet it’s just the start of new beginnings

  • a yearly tradition for troop hiking
  • a new family endeavor
  • a goal to hike further
  • a progressive step towards backpacking on the trail
  • inspiration for trail-oriented service projects
  • a new love for hiking!

Special Thanks to…
Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Angie Sheldon, Laurie Potteiger, Laura Belleville
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference: Ron Rosen
All the AT Clubs!
All the Girl Scout Councils!
Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association
Appalachian Trail Museum
National Forest Service
Girl Scouts of the USA

Want to share your troop’s story?
Need tips on hiking with kids?
Want to do a story on The Great Girl Scout Hike?
Contact us: communications@gsvsc.org
540-777-5113 (Jennifer @ Girl Scouts of VA Skyline)

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Joyce Trawick July 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

What a great idea! My Daughter Kylie has signed up for 102 miles in Maine….. We love Mama Boots!


Joyce Trawick July 27, 2011 at 10:25 am

Hi everyone,
I am working with the Girl Scout Council out here in Maine to do a group summit at Katadin. The Girl Scouts of Maine has a camp right near there so we are thinking of organizing a weekend event at the camp that would include a group summit. Is anyone interested?


Adelaide August 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm

I’d be interested in joining you all! Do you have a date yet?


jenniferpfister August 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Yes – they do have a date now (from our Facebook page):
“The Girl Scouts of Maine will be hosting a mini camp at baxter state park the last week of August 2012. This is going to be a 2 night 3 day event where we will camp out at the GS camp that is located in Baxter Park. The plan is to have everyone show up and camp out the first night then hike Katadin during the 2nd day and camp out for a second night and on the third day it would be open to explore the area. We are still working out the details but wanted to let others know.”


Emilie March 7, 2012 at 12:12 pm

One of my happiest GS Leader memories was a Senior encampment you all did 2003-2004?) at that great camp at Baxter. I do not do Facebook but would love to be a part of your hike. Is there a way to connect other than Facebook?


jenniferpfister March 7, 2012 at 12:46 pm

This website or Facebook as well as Girl Scouting in your local community…

Susan Traxel Martin August 1, 2011 at 10:58 am

I am claiming this one for my 1st mountain top celebration after my double lung transplant this fall. Catawba to Tinker – All the way!!! (The same stretch of the AT that I did as a Cadette Girl Scout at Camp Kiwanianna in 1968.) What better way to celebrate my new life! I better start training now so I’ll be ready in March~! I love Girl Scouting!
“Ranger TracksAll”


Joyce Trawick August 3, 2011 at 10:27 am

Good for you Susan!


Bill Van Horn September 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Looking for help in hiking in southwest NC contact me. I am with the Nantahala Hiking Club based out of Franklin, NC. The AT is 11 miles out of town.

Bill Van Horn
aka Dayglo


Aroma February 18, 2012 at 6:49 am

Fabulous tips. Just wtaend to add that drinking coconut water is a good way to stay hydrated since it is high in electrolytes. Also, I use trekking poles which help with stability and prevent falls.


Sharon Dueffert September 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Mama Boots has been a wonderful inspiration and mentor to the AT Adventurers of the Kentuckiana Council. She planned our first backpacking trips, helped us find trail angels, told us where to park our cars and even recommended camping areas close by. She has stayed connected with to our group through the fifteen Susan Hart and I have taken Girl Scouts on the AT. She is such an inspiration even today. Her enthusiasm is unmatched. Thank you Mama Boots!


Myra "Skeeter" Collins November 17, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Our coucil will make this one of our destination trips this summer. We started the backpacking program several years ago and have lots of girls interested. I can’t wait with the help of Smurf to show them the AT. Thanks for putting this together.


Kim Nestor January 4, 2012 at 7:58 am

Our town has signed up to hike as a day trip on the section of the AT at High Point NJ. This is a great idea and I am hoping a great way to introduce a bunch of the girls to hiking.


Ron Rosen January 6, 2012 at 10:11 am

Hi Kim,
By “our town” do you mean your local service unit? What Council are you in–if you are not already in touch with your Council’s GS AT Hike coordinator I can put you in touch with that person! If you would like to send me your email address, I can add it to my broadcast list of events and information for NY and NJ involvement in the Great GS Hike (I’m coordinating cooperation among the NY and NJ girl scout councils and the NY-NJ Trail Conference for this program).


Ujankna February 17, 2012 at 1:12 pm

Go Emily! We are creiheng for you. I told my whole fam and everybody at my office about how far you have hiked already. Jake says don’t get scurvy.Christie


Kim Nestor March 26, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Hey Ron,
Yes, it’s just our Service Unit. Our council hasn’t got anything concrete going yet, and we were anxious to get going on something. I posted to the email I found on your website. Hopefully we can work together to make it great!!


Marina Sinyard January 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Great idea!

We are a troop from Richmond, Virginia and plan to do a section of the AT with a few girls from our troop (age 13-14) from Rockfish Gap to the Paul Wolf shelter and back over a weekend (10 miles total- out and back ). If any other troops want to join us please get in touch with me. Thinking about end of June-early July.


Thomas February 17, 2012 at 9:10 pm

According to white blaze we aren’t quiet at all. Video clips and potohs will be on the blog shortly. Only delay there is due to technology.We’re loving every minute of the experience, and hope to share as much as we can with our viewers as we go along .


Laura Hurley February 1, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Wonderful pursuit! Jennifer, I’d like to suggest the Appalachian Mountain Club as another resource (http://www.outdoors.org) for hiking the AT. We maintain 350 miles of the AT in 5 states as a maintaining club of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Our website, staff, and chapters are excellent resources for AT hike planning in Connecticut and Massachusetts, part of Pennsylvania, and from Glencliff, New Hampshire to Grafton Notch, Maine. We’re also committed to getting more kids and families outdoors as part of our Vision 2020 strategic goals for this decade.


Elizabeth Huxford February 8, 2012 at 12:45 pm

We’re looking to hike part of the MD stretch. Any others doing this section? Would love to tag up with you.


Rosalind Suit March 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm

The Mountain Club of Maryland ( MCM–Baltimore-based) is ready to offer what assistance we can with experienced hike leaders who know the Maryland AT very well, as we hike all of it each year in separate day hikes…..and we would love to be of assistance to you when you plan your AT hike in Maryland. Get in touch with me….I’m the MCM coordianator for the Girl Scout Great Hike this year. It’s such an exciting idea….and I’ll be at the Sunday celebraton and Kickoff in Harper’s Ferry. Zip me an email.


Tammie February 27, 2012 at 11:37 am

I am interested in signing my troop up for a section in VA – is there a section that isn’t already committed?


Anne March 6, 2012 at 10:48 am

I live in Alexandria, VA and would love to join in. If there is a troop out there that needs an experienced thru-hiker (2000 miles on the PCT) then let me know. I have a tight schedule but sure would love to join in. I hiked in High School with the girl scouts because at the time girls weren’t allowed to backpack with the boys on church camp trips.


Gsingjane March 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Is anybody out there? I signed up to cover off the Connecticut portion of the AT, about a month ago, and I never heard back from anybody. Are you running this through the individual councils? Is the idea that we’re just supposed to do it and then report back, or is there something more involved with it than that?


jenniferpfister March 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm

We are here and hiking :) Thx for signing up to take on all of Connecticut! We’ve had over 150 troops/groups/individuals signup for The Great GS Hike and cannot contact everyone back individually. We want everyone to just have fun, take a hike and then share your pics and videos afterwards. We aren’t too scientific about the hike yet we’ve got the whole AT covered based on sign-ups. Hope this helps and of course, Happy Trails!


Greg Gressel April 11, 2012 at 9:57 pm

We would like for our troop to participate in the hike. What part of TN can we do?


jenniferpfister April 13, 2012 at 9:21 am

All of the AT is covered and twice over for The Great GS Hike – but please chose a section that you all would enjoy hiking as well as meets your troop’s abilities. Have fun and happy trails!


Chris Petty April 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm

We are in planning to do a small section in Dutchess county near Hosner Mtn/Nuclear Lake. Anyone else out there?
Ron and Mike and others have graciously offered to help leaders plan their hikes. Thanks guys!


Faline Hill May 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I see you will be issuing certificates to GSs who hike during the Great GS Hike.
Wonder if y’all selling Great GS Hike patches, t-shirts or other?


jenniferpfister May 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

yes – we are selling Great GS Hike souvenirs – patches, shirts, bags, etc: http://www.gshike.org/souvenir-shop/


Paula May 22, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Troop 6419 of Arlington VA hiked 6.5 beautiful miles of the AT near Harpers Ferry, WV on Saturday. We stopped by the AT Conservancy Headquarters to learn more about the Trail. The Conservancy staff took a photo of our Troop and posted it on the AT Conservancy Facebook page! You can find it here: http://www.facebook.com/ATHike or just search for Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Facebook. It was a great day — we were so happy to be part of this adventure!!


gold price October 11, 2012 at 5:44 am

Great Girl Scout Hike – Appalachian Trail Troop 1592Cadette Troop 1592 from Germantown hiked 3 miles on the Appalachian Trail to participate in the Great Girl Scout Hike. They started at the Appalachian Trail Conscervancy where they learned about the history of the trail, looked at maps and photos and talked to some hikers who are hiking the whole trail. Submitted by Alison Tisaranni.


Chris Petty October 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm

18 folks from the New Oaks Service Unit (Wappingers Falls, ny) hiked the AT near Stormville, NY this weekend. Great weather (pre-Sandy) and a great time had by all!!


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