"Still, quite a lot of the original impulse behind MacKaye's version survives. All 2,100 miles of the trail, as well as side trails, footbridges, signs, blazes, and shelters, are maintained by volunteers - indeed, the AT is said to be the largest volunteer-run undertaking on the planet. It remains gloriously free of commercialism. The Appalachian Trail Conference didn't hire it's first employee until 1968, and it retains the air of a friendly, accessible, dedicated outfit. The AT is no longer the longest hiking trail - the Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails, both out West, are slightly longer - but it will always be the first and greatest. It has a lot of friends. It deserves them."