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The Benton MacKaye Trail Association

“…leaving a footpath for generations to follow.”

 

Benton MacKaye Trail Association founding member, Dave Sherman, first conceived of the idea for the Benton MacKaye Trail in 1975. A serious student of conservationist and regional planner Benton MacKaye’s life and career, Sherman was intrigued by MacKaye’s proposed spur trails that would extend the Appalachian Trail (AT) further to the south.

Sherman eventually proposed a new trail that would follow the high ridge running south along the Tennessee-North Carolina border between the Smoky Mountains and the Cohutta Mountains in northwest Georgia. In addition, he included an east-west connecting trail between the Cohuttas and the AT near Springer Mountain.

Sherman’s idea of a sister trail to the AT, later named for Benton MacKaye, caught on and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) was officially formed in 1980.

Working closely with the U.S. Forest Service, the all-volunteer BMTA workforce began to build the trail … first in Georgia, later along the Tennessee / North Carolina border and eventually extending to the Smokies. Saving time and effort by piecing together existing trail segments and old logging roads, the trail was completed to Double Spring Gap on the Georgia / Tennessee line in 1989. Over the next 15 years, the association implemented a massive effort to complete the trail to the Smokies. Soon thereafter, the National Park Service agreed to piece together a route through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Davenport Gap.

The 285 mile long Benton MacKaye Trail was completed in 2005 – 30 years after Sherman’s initial idea for the trail, and 25 years after the formation of the BMTA.

Ever vigilant for improvements to the BMT, in 2015 the association completed a significant reroute that took the BMT off the dangerous North Carolina roadwalk known as “The Tail of the Dragon”.

 

section hike

The BMTA Today

Governed by a 14-member Board of Directors, the primary work of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association today is to maintain and to promote the Benton MacKaye Trail.

Members

As of September 1, 2020, the BMTA has over 525 members who share a love for the outdoors as well as the objectives of: preserving, protecting and defending the Benton MacKaye Trail —“… leaving a footpath for generations to follow”.

Trail Maintenance

BMTA volunteers maintain the now 287.6 mile long trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. In fiscal 2019, volunteers turned in over 5,027.6 hours maintaining the trail!

BMTA Sponsored Hikes

BMTA sponsors several hikes each month as well as occasional backpacking excursions.

Conservation

BMTA strives to preserve and protect the amazing natural resource known as the Benton MacKaye Trail.

Outreach

For “on the job training and education”, the BMTA encourages Scouts as well as college and university students to participate in our twice-monthly work trips. Public education and outreach is offered at events throughout Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina – including the Annual William T. Hornady Conservation Weekend as well as at various local festivals and venues.

Communication

In addition to our newsletter and website, the BMTA is on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

To Join US go to this link: MEMBERSHIP

CONSERVATION

The BMTA and U.S. Agency Partnerships

The BMTA has developed and continues to maintain this trail in cooperation with its two federal agency partners, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service. Following is the list of applicable U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service offices, listed from South to North:

 

Chattahoochee Oconee National Forests
1755 Cleveland Highway
Gainesville, GA 30501
770-297-3000
www.fs.usda.gov/main/conf/home

Blue Ridge District
2042 Hwy 515 West
Blairsville, GA 30512
706 745-6928

Conasauga District
3941 Highway 76
Chatsworth, GA 30705
706 695-6736

 

 

Cherokee National Forest
2800 N. Ocoee Street
Cleveland, TN 37312
423-476-9700
www.fs.usda.gov/main/cherokee/home

Ocoee District
3171 Highway 64
Benton, TN 37370
423-338-3300

Tellico District
250 Ranger Station Road
Tellico Plains, TN 37385
423-253-8400

 

Nantahala National Forest
160A Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC 28802
828-257-4200
www.fs.usda.gov/main/nfsnc/home

Tusquitee District
123 Woodland Drive
Murphy, NC 28908
828-837-5152

Cheoah District
1070 Massey Branch Road
Robbinsville, NC 28771
828-479-6431

 

 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
107 Park Headquarters Rd.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
865-436-1200
www.nps.gov/grsm

Benton MacKaye the Man

 

Benton MacKaye and the BMT

Forester and regional planner, Benton MacKaye is best known for his life-long advocacy for the Appalachian Trail (AT) – a trail he first proposed in a 1921 article. Included in that article was the idea for the route that now bears his name, the Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT).

MacKaye’s Other Contributions

The AT was far from MacKaye’s only contribution to today’s society. For half a century, the tall, lanky New Englander smoking his signature pipe was a familiar sight at environmental and regional planning conferences where he collaborated with some of the movement’s major figures – Bob Marshall and Aldo Leopold.

Throughout his career, MacKaye was employed by several different government agencies – the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Tennessee Valley Authority, to name a few. Because he found compromise difficult, he frequently wore out his welcome, or resigned in frustration.

Curmudgeon though he may have been, MacKaye was an early and influential promoter of many concepts it would be hard to imagine 21st Century America without, such as:

  • He joined with other conservationists to found the Wilderness Society.
  • MacKaye encouraged the establishment of National Forests east of the Mississippi.
  • He proposed the concept of planned communities with protected greenspaces (a.k.a., greenways) in key natural areas.
  • He suggested the idea of “townless” roads (today’s interstate and intrastate highways) to move traffic out of city centers.
  • So others can experience nature in something like its pure form, he encouraged the creation of vast protected wilderness areas across the nation, especially in national forests.
  • MacKaye was adamant that the most important work of science is to help humans discover and adopt practices that will enable us to live in harmony with nature (sustainability).

Want to know more about Benton MacKaye…?

  • Order Larry Anderson’s superb 2002 biography HERE
  • Read the entire text of MacKaye’s 1921 essay proposing the Appalachian Trail as well as Garrett Dash Nelson’s excellent 2019 introduction HERE.

Business/Corporate Members

The Benton MacKaye Trail Association is grateful for the help and support provided by our Corporate Members and Partner organizations.

Membership fees and donations from Corporate Members go towards the purchase of tools and materials used to maintain and improve the Benton MacKaye Trail.

Trail clubs, hiking clubs and other organizations also help us to accomplish our mission in a variety of ways – by maintaining a section of the BMT, co-sponsoring a hike, facilitating the distribution of our literature and / or putting on an event where the BMTA can educate the public about the “work we do”.

Other, partner organizations promote the values the BMTA holds dear – they encourage outdoor recreation and public service; promote hiking, camping and a wilderness experience in pristine forests and high, mountain meadows; and, most important, strive to instill a strong conservation ethic.

Corporate Members

Trail Clubs

Hiking Clubs

Other Links

Board of Directors

President Barry Allen
Vice President Joy Forehand
Secretary Clare Sullivan
Treasurer Margaret Meadows
GA Maintenance Director Phil Guhl
TN/NC Maintenance Director  Rick Harris
Smokies Coordinator Larry Dumas
Hiking Director Ken Cissna
Store Sue Ricker
Membership Frank Forehand
Publicity Jeff DePaola
Conservation Dave Ricker
Past President Tom Keene
Newsletter Kathy Williams
State Rep GA Bob Cowdrick
State Rep TN/NC Larry Van Dyke

Contact Us

Benton MacKaye Trail Association
PO Box 6
Cherry Log, GA 30522

Privacy Policy

  • Privacy Policy

    Benton MacKaye Trail Association

    Privacy Policy

    This privacy policy discloses the privacy practices for BMTA.org.  This privacy policy applies solely to information collected by this website. This policy identifies the following:

    • What personally identifiable information is collected from you through the website, how it is used and with whom it may be shared.
    • What choices are available to you regarding the use of your data.
    • The security procedures in place to protect the misuse of your information.
    • How you can correct any inaccuracies in the information.

    Information Collection, Use, and Sharing
    We are the sole owners of the information collected on this site. We only have access to/collect information that you voluntarily give us via email or other direct contact from you. We will not sell or rent this information to anyone.

    We will use your information to respond to you regarding the reason you contacted us. We will not share your information with any third party outside of our organization, other than as is necessary to fulfill your request (examples: to submit a donation, to make a reservation for a hike or work trip, to pay membership dues or to purchase items through our Trail Store).

    Unless you ask us not to do so, in the future, we may contact you via email to tell you about hikes, work days, program updates and / or changes to this privacy policy.

    Your Access to and Control Over Information
    You may opt out of any future contacts from us at any time. You can do the following at any time by contacting us via the email at Communications@bmtamail.org:

    • See what data we have about you, if any.
    • Change / correct any data we have about you.
    • Have us delete any data we have about you.
    • Express any concern you have about our use of your data.

    Security
    We take precautions to protect your information. When you submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected both online and offline.

    Wherever we collect sensitive information (such as contact information), that information is encrypted and transmitted to us in a secure way.

    While we use encryption to protect sensitive information transmitted online, we also protect your information offline. Only three volunteers who need the information to perform a specific job (for example: updating membership information or processing donations) are granted access to personally identifiable information. The computers / servers on which we store personally identifiable information are kept in a secure environment.

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    Updates
    Our Privacy Policy may change from time to time and all updates will be posted on this page.

    If you feel that we are not abiding by this privacy policy, you should contact us immediately via email at Communications@bmtamail.org.