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I'm starting to plan a trip to hike along AT. We all know the Appalachian trail goes from Georgia to Maine. (ie: many different states along the way). When I camp each night, can I use the argument that my Tent / Campsite is an extention of my Home?? and thus be in possesion of my firearm for self defense?? I assume while hiking during the day I would need to separate the ammo and gun and put a lock on the gun. Has this discussion ever come up before? Keep in mind the AT crosses public and private land.

I know that most of the members will say "just get your ccw that covers most of those states", fine... however what about NY, NJ, Conn., Mass., and the other unfriendly ccw states.
 

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I wouldn't worry too much about it not too many leos on the trail, hiked it from when i was 10 til i was 18, and never saw a one. yuou are not going to be in a town long enuf too cause any problems, hopefully lol.
 

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Considering you'll be leaving the trail and going into towns to shop for grocerries, meet family for mail and money, and possibly using a hotel to get a hot shower, that could be dicey having a gun while off the trail. :confused: On the trail I wouldn't be to concerned but off the trail, not sure? Are you sure you're even up for the hike, are you going with another hiker that has already hiked the trail?
 

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Hiking the trail sounds like a great experience, but carrying in NY or Mass. can get you a mandatory year as a guest of the state. You may not see a single LEO the whole trip, but then you may. And I know that NY doesn't honor any other staes CCW.
 

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The AT is notorious for being dangerous. I have hiked portions of it in VA.

Hikers be wary: Crime strikes on AT | Lynchburg News Advance

Violence near the Appalachian Trail recently has raised trail-safety issues, especially in light of warming weather that is enthusing outdoors lovers.

On May 8, two fishermen were shot while camping a couple miles from a shelter where the suspected gunman killed two Appalachian Trail hikers in 1981.

On May 3, a female Appalachian Trail hiker told authorities she was abducted and sexually assaulted when a man offered her a ride to the post office in Troutville.

The U.S. Forest Service has 11 law enforcement officers for 1.8 million acres for the George Washington and Jefferson National forests. The service also has a cooperative agreement with local sheriff’s departments to patrol heavily populated areas, said Eric Smith, a forest service law enforcement officer stationed at Natural Bridge.

Smith said the forest areas are relatively safe. The bulk of violations right now are off-road vehicle violations, alcohol and drugs, as well as sanitation violations.

But the officers mainly patrol in their vehicles, not on the hiking trails.

GVA - Thousands 'Take Back the Trails' on anniversary of campsite murders
Thousands 'Take Back the Trails' on anniversary of campsite murders

STONY MAN MOUNTAIN, Va. (AP) -- Julie Williams and Lollie Winans were devoted, experienced hikers in their mid 20s and they knew the Shenandoah National Park is a splendid place to hit the trail this time of year.
...Their hands were bound and their throats were slashed. Their bodies were found on June 1, but the killer or killers disappeared without a trace.

There are certainly many portions of the trail that are no gun zones such as the national park system pockets along the trail. However, more than half of the AT goes through hunting lands, whick means there is a legal way to carry. Depending on how much of it you plan to hike, you may be able to choose your hike for a section that is gun-friendly.

I won't advocate that you break any laws, but personally I would carry if I were hiking the AT.

As you're planning your trip, you may want to watch Deliverance. :gah:
 

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The AT is notorious for being dangerous. I have hiked portions of it in VA.

Hikers be wary: Crime strikes on AT | Lynchburg News Advance




GVA - Thousands 'Take Back the Trails' on anniversary of campsite murders



There are certainly many portions of the trail that are no gun zones such as the national park system pockets along the trail. However, more than half of the AT goes through hunting lands, whick means there is a legal way to carry. Depending on how much of it you plan to hike, you may be able to choose your hike for a section that is gun-friendly.

I won't advocate that you break any laws, but personally I would carry if I were hiking the AT.

As you're planning your trip, you may want to watch Deliverance. :gah:
This just may be you in your undies :smoke23:

 

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Also, be careful that much of the trail actually falls under the National Park system, which bans firearms until Feb. 2010
 

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I understand a new Federal Park rule passed, but has not yet took effect. I’d wait until it does. Then if you have a CCL your legal in the Federal Parks.

I would not hike alone, and I’d avoid MS and NY. All the rest along the way are pretty weapon friendly.

A good friend of mine broke the trail in to three week hikes, and did the whole trail over a few years. He was a DS so he carried his sidearm the whole way, but never needed it.
 

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Not to say if it makes you feel better in some areas you can carry on the AT. I have hiked solo many times on the Appalachian trail and never felt the need for a handgun. I feel much safer out their than I do in my own house. because realy if you look at the statistics Murders and crime on the trail is very low and it does add much weight to a pack. I just cant see the need for a firearm on the trail for me at least.
 

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Gun on the AT from the prospective of a long time long distant hiker

I'm likely to upset some folk here but here goes.

As I have maintained the AT off and on (whenever I was stationed/living near it or during vacations as a member of a seasonal crew) since '57 and have hiked it, I will jump in.

First however, let me say that I wish it were legal (anybody, anytime, anywhere) to carry the whole trail. However, it is NOT.

Although the AT is administrate by the USPS it is not a national park. See the ATC web site on hunting which is relevant to the issue: Hunting and the A.T. - Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

So, carry consistent with local laws is allowed along 1,250 miles of the Appalachian Trail through national forest lands, national recreation areas, and on state forests and game lands.

OTOH, carry is PROHIBITED by federal regulation along approximately 900 miles of the Trail through national parks (like Shenandoah and the Great Smoky Mountains), most state parks, and on lands acquired by the National Park Service exclusively for the Appalachian Trail—indicated by A.T. corridor boundary signs -- albeit that will change next February.

Also see Personal Safety & Awareness Tips for A.T. Hikers - Appalachian Trail Conservancy [WWIIW firearms are discussed about half way down]

Then we get to the States with no or limited reciprocity. I my case that makes carry prohibited in MD and every state north of PA -- save VT.

The media's hype of the isolated violence notwithstanding, the trail is a relatively safe place. If you were to take a length of string that represents 2,178 miles and drop it on a map of the east coast states and then research the violent crime along that line, I would bet it would far exceed the violent crime recorded along the AT. The media always projects its own fears on those things that they are unfamiliar with -- both guns and the AT.

IMHO, it is a very safe place any distance away from the trailheads where nearly all the limited crime takes place. Most criminals are to lazy to work hard enough to hike very far.

Most of the highly published crimes happens off the trail. For example two fishermen were shot while camping were a couple miles from the trail. (BTW the shelter where the killed two Appalachian Trail hikers in 1981 was moved away from the trailhead for more safety). The media hype should have focused on why he was out of jail after killing two people, not paining a picture of danger along the trail that was two miles away.

Note that the female Appalachian Trail hiker told authorities she was abducted and sexually assaulted when a man offered her a ride to the post office in Troutville. -- i.e., off the trail hitching a ride into town.

Julie Williams and Lollie Winans were not hiking the AT. They were not killed on the AT. In 1996, they were killed in the SNP at a campsite one-tenth of a mile from the Skyline Drive and about half a mile from Skyland Lodge, which draws hikers and tourists to its bar, restaurant, and cabins -- after partying at the lodge. Again the media used it to hype DANGER on the AT. Why not danger of being in the National Parks to justify carry by lawful citizens???

They were only the eighth and ninth murders that have occurred any where along the Appalachian Trail for 12 years --1974-1996. Given the millions of users ever year that's not a high rate.

BTW -- another one of those seven highly publicized murders was a thru-hiker who was killed at while sleeping it off on a picnic table in the middle of a trail town.

As far a danger is concerned, you are far more likely to suffer injury from a fall, hypothermia, lightning, hantavirus, giardia lamblia, Lyme's disease, etc than from violent crime. See:Health and Safety - Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Another consideration is the trail grape vine. There are crowds of hikers. Worst in the thru-hiker bulge than at other time, but still heavy in popular segments all the time. At points you will have very little privacy. Keeping a gun concealed and still available when very hot, when wet, etc will be very difficult. One that is not available is just extra weight. You will be hiking with many anti-RKBA shelter-mates. When an anti makes you, the word will spread. I would expect some anti to report you to the authorities, as the NPS & ATC hype reporting all incidents on the AT. "Suspicious or illegal activity that does not require emergency response should be reported as soon as possible to local rangers or local law-enforcement." See: Reporting an Incident on the A.T. - Appalachian Trail Conservancy


So, IMHO we have a risk analysis to run.

Low incident of needing a firearm vs. the very bad repercussions, if caught with one.

To me, it is not unlike carrying in a post office. Sure I could be attacked going in, or while in one. But the risk of never being able to carry for the rest of my life (even at my age) in more dangerous places outweighs the risk while in a PO. As always, YMMV.

BTW -- Planning on mail drops? At POs? What's your plan to secure the gun while in a PO?

BTW2 -- Do I carry on the AT? Yes, where legal and logistically workable. No, where prohibited.
 

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I understand a new Federal Park rule passed, but has not yet took effect. I’d wait until it does. Then if you have a CCL your legal in the Federal Parks.
This is not exactly correct. When the new law goes into effect, it will only mean that if you are legal to conceal carry in the state where the park is situated, then you will be legal to conceal carry in that national park; otherwise, there is no change.
 

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I'm starting to plan a trip to hike along AT. We all know the Appalachian trail goes from Georgia to Maine. (ie: many different states along the way). When I camp each night, can I use the argument that my Tent / Campsite is an extention of my Home?? and thus be in possesion of my firearm for self defense?? I assume while hiking during the day I would need to separate the ammo and gun and put a lock on the gun. Has this discussion ever come up before? Keep in mind the AT crosses public and private land.

I know that most of the members will say "just get your ccw that covers most of those states", fine... however what about NY, NJ, Conn., Mass., and the other unfriendly ccw states.
What states are you planning on going through?
You can get CT pretty easily, Mass can be gotten but will take a long time. NY, NJ, and MD are the obvious problems.
I know NJ does have a carry provision for hunting, but that may not fly for hiking.
As far as a campsite being an extension of your home, it's a hard sell. Maybe if you lease the campsite, you have an argument it's like a temporary home.
In any case, its a hard sell. Too bad the "traveler on a journey" exception is no longer around.
 
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