Friday, August 12, 2011

Death on the Appalachian Trail

While reviewing and updating our Section Hiking the Appalachian Trail Twitter account, we discovered there has been a second death on the Appalachian Trail this year. This time its seems a hiker slipped and fell between Rangeley and Caratunk, Maine. Details are forthcoming.

While deaths on the Appalachian Trail are rare, death does come to hikers from time to time. Often while pre-planning a hike, friends and relatives become alarmed and imagine all sorts of danger that will befall their loved one. (We've been offered guns.) With today's death, this seems an opportune moment in time to start a list of deaths on the Appalachian Trail to provide a balanced perspective on how life threatening the Appalachian Trail is and is not.







We will continue to update this post as we discover past deaths on the Appalachian Trail.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. 


  1. In 1996 two female hikers were murdered in the Shenandoah National Park. To date, their murders have not been solved.

    This month, a body was found near the trail in Amherst County, VA. There is not a lot of info on this one yet.

    I was told of a suicide at Punchbowl Shelter in VA. I do not know of any details yet.

    Last year, a local was killed after jumping off the James River Foot Bridge. While this was not a hiking incident, the bridge is part of the trail & some hikers have jumped into the river also.

    1. Hiker found dead on the Appalachian Trail in Botetourt County

    2. There was another hiker that was killed on the trail in May as stated in the article "Hiker found dead on the Appalachian Trail in Botetourt County" that you posted for June 2010.

  2. Thanks for catching the earlier May 2010 death. Updated post.

  3. If your trying to get as accurate as possible, as I'm assuming you are; you posted the 1991 deaths as 1990.
    Also, according to a book about the trail I'm reading there were about 9 deaths between the opening of the trail and 1998. Will post again when I find the information, if I can find it again, anyway.

  4. there were two prior deaths to 1981. I don't have any information on those or the 1981 murder, so I left that one blank.

    1988- two women killed. One was shot, the other was killed in Pennsylvania.

  5. Regarding the 1991 People article on the Duncannon deaths, the article was written in June 1991, but states "LAST SEPT. 13, ...". Thus the deaths were in September 1990, not 1991.

  6. Thanks Anonymous for the 1988 and 1981 dates. I was able to locate some details from those clues, plus additional deaths in 1974 and 1975.

  7. David Paulides has written a book about how thousands of people have just gone missing in our national parks and forests. The book is entitled Missing 411 and he did an interview on Coast to Coast, that is where i heard about it. Here is the link for those interested,

    But with all these deaths on the AT, it really makes you wonder just how many people go missing on the AT every year?

  8. >"But with all these deaths on the AT, it really makes you wonder just how many people go missing on the AT every year?"

    Mmmm... no, it doesn't. The A.T. doesn't have a missing person problem. Most people hike with a partner and not solo. Those hiking solo usually carry a SPOT or have a "ground control" who monitors their progress, mails dropboxes, like I do.

    Additionally, the A.T. is very social and has a well developed trail communication system. News of missing hikers, injured hikers, and deaths travel quickly on the trail. Also, there is the larger online community of A.T. hikers that track down reports of incidents for group discussion and analysis.

    So, no, the relatively few deaths do not indicate a larger (secret) missing person problem nor indicate the A.T. is unsafe.

    I'll leave the comment with the link to the YouTube conspiracy video, although it strikes me as comment spam.

  9. is all this information documented? or is this an accumulation of documented cases?

  10. I noticed that you do not have any information about Meredith Emerson. She might not have died on the trail, but she was kidnapped either from the trail at Blood Mountain, or from the parking lot for Blood Mountain.

  11. Thanks, Todd! I'll look into Meredith's case.

  12. Welcome, anonymous. Sorry for the delay. As each of the above links goes to a newspaper or other reputable source, yes, the information is "documented." The list above thus becomes an "accumulation of documented cases."

  13. Todd, I found Meredith on Wikipedia. It seems she was a local out walking her dog versus being a through or section hiker. As folks are coming to this page because they have friends and family concerned for their safety, I decided to err on the side of public safety and list the incident. All hikers should be on guard at transition points along the trail, including spurs and parking areas. If something doesn't look or feel right, move on and notify someone. Thanks again for updating us.