So how many people have thru-hiked the entire Appalachian Trail? It is estimated that only 1 in 4 hikers that begin a thru-hike actually complete the journey. Many reasons cause a hiker to pull off the trail – sickness, injury, loneliness/depression, and total exhaustion lead the list. The actual number of successful thru-hikes has drastically increased over the years. There were only 5 completions in the 1930’s; a total of 22 journeys through 1959; 37 thru-hikes during 1960. And then things began to increase much more rapidly. Ed Garvey completed his hike in 1970…he wrote a book, Appalachian Hiker: Adventure of a Lifetime… and many people began to take an interest. In the 1970’s there were 764 successful adventures. The term “2,000-miler” was coined in the later part of that decade to identify this growing band of long distance hikers. The number doubled in the 1980’s to embrace 1,419 individuals… the number grew to 3,305 in the 1990’s… 5,872 in the 2000’s and as of last year the number has already reached 2,203 for the current decade. Adding all those thru-hikes together the grand total is 13,622. The 10,000th hike completion was recorded in 2008.
Women are in the minority of successful thru-hikers: about 25% of the hikers come from all over the world to pursue the journey through 14 states…Springer to Katahdin…Maine to Georgia. Hikers (men and women) have come from Australia, Austria, The Bahamas, Belgium, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Romania, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Wales have reported completing the Appalachian Trail.