What is trail magic?
Trail magic can be any experience on the Appalachian Trail that inspires intense awe or gratitude. It's random acts of kindness by strangers, a mesmerizing sunset after days of soaking rain, or a wildlife sighting so thrilling it makes your heart pound.
What are "trail angels" and how can I become one?
Hikers call the people who provide trail magic "trail angels." A trail angel is the person offering a hiker a cold drink, but trail angels are also the volunteers who maintain and look after the Trail. To find out what help the Trail and hikers need most, contact the local trail club, and make sure you practice Leave No Trace. Thru-hikers may think coolers of food and drink in the woods are awesome, but coolers are an eyesore when empty and filled with trash. Left unattended they can lead to habituation of wildlife. Accumulated trash gets scattered through the woods by wind or animals. That’s not so magical.
Anyone can be a trail angel anytime by picking up trash. Although the A.T. itself is amazingly free of litter, trailheads and shelters tend to be trash magnets. Many are in need of some serious love from trail angels. There are no trash cans along the Trail, so bring some extra trash bags with you the next time you hit the Trail!
What are hiker feeds?
“Hiker feeds” are picnics or barbeques set up at roads crossings or off-trail locations. They are usually intended for northbound thru-hikers by those who get gratification from “feeding the hungry hikers.” Long-distance hikers are usually so hungry for "real food" after eating dehydrated food and burning mega-calories that they are ecstatically happy to encounter these offerings.
Unfortunately, the collective effect of so many of these ever-larger and expanding number of "feeds" is that it fosters a party culture among long-distance hikers, especially in the "bubble" of northbound thru-hikers. All this special treatment can lead hikers to feel they are exempt from regulations, or don't need to be concerned with the impacts of their actions. The end result can be a loss of privileges for all A.T. hikers by local businesses, communities, and parks.