The Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian-Caledonian Mountains were formed more than 250 Million years ago during the Paleozoic Era, when the earth’s plates collided to form the supercontinent Pangea. They straddled the central part of that continent in what is today eastern North America, eastern Greenland, western Europe, and northwest Africa. When Pangea separated to form the Atlantic Ocean, remnants of the Appalachian-Caledonian Mountains ended up in the eastern United States and Canada, Greenland, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Brittany, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Anti-Atlas Mountains of Morocco.
The International Appalachian Trail began as an idea that popped into Dick Anderson’s head in October, 1993. Dick, the Commissioner of the Maine Department of Conservation, traveled frequently to the neighboring Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec and knew the Appalachian Mountains didn’t suddenly end at the US/Canadian border. Why, then, shouldn’t a hiking trail continue following them into Canada? Over the next six months, Dick, with the help of Maine conservationists, Don Hudson, Cloe Chunn and Dick Davies, developed a plan to create just such a trail connecting Maine’s Katahdin to Mont Carleton in New Brunswick and then on to Mount Jacques Cartier in Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula. On Earth Day, April 22, 1994, the proposal to build a hiking trail through the northern Appalachian Mountains was announced at a news conference in Portland, Maine, by Governor Joseph E. Brennan.
The Mission - “Thinking Beyond Borders”
The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) began as a commitment between the U.S. state of Maine and Provincial Canada to work together as neighbors to sustain a shared environment and celebrate the grandeur of a common landscape. In North America the trail connects elements of the Appalachian Mountains, crossing rivers, threading open spruce and fir forests, joining the people and cultures of Maine, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada. Since 2009, this mission has been embraced in Greenland and Iceland and across the arc of the North Atlantic to Europe and North Africa. The IAT now comprises 23 Chapters on three continents from Maine to Morocco. Progress to maintain and improve the trail experience continues in work with landowners, hikers, conservation organizations, and local, regional and national governments.