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The Appalachian Trail: Backcountry Shelters, Lean-tos, and Huts

The Appalachian Trail: Backcountry Shelters, Lean-tos, and Huts

5 Stars

Product Description


By Sarah Jones Decker In association with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

ISBN: 978-0-8478-6772-1 / Rizzoli New York / April 2020

 Paperback / 7¼” x 7¼” / 304 pages / 600 color photographs

Whether you have spent one night or six months on the Appalachian Trail, every hiker eventually experiences one of the more than 275 iconic shelters, lean-tos, and huts along the path. More than just a dry roof over weary travelers, the shelters along the iconic A.T. provide a gathering place and a sense of community on America’s most famous footpath. Dotted an average of every eight miles along the 2,193-mile route, these backcountry shelters have welcomed hikers on a first-come, first-served basis since the trail’s earliest years. The Appalachian Trail: Backcountry Shelters, Lean-tos, and Huts chronicles them all, including several lost to the shelter graveyard.

Photographer and writer Sarah Jones Decker thru-hiked the AT in 2008 and rehiked it in 2018 and 2019 for this massive documentary project. Working with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy—and in collaboration with the trail community of hikers, historians, photographers, writers, and clubs—to produce this first-of-its-kind resource, Jones Decker organizes and assembles every single shelter for the first time. The book is packed with trail and shelter photos, history and information, and detailed maps. Some shelters have sleeping lofts, multiple stories, wooden bunks, or platforms; some have large front porches; and a rare few even have solar showers.

Most shelters have a picnic table and a privy and are typically near a reliable water source. Shelter journals at each offer a sense of community and communication while on the trail. Most sleep six to eight, the largest upwards of 90, and some even allow for the possibility of a pizza delivery. As the trail continues to grow, change, and evolve, so does the need for the shelter’s conservation and stewardship.

Field Magazine says: “Packed cover to cover with detailed history, images, stories, and maps, this stout book is a dang fine companion for a morning’s first cup of coffee or a cold drink at the end of the day—both perfect times to daydream of your next adventure.”

About the Author: Sarah Jones Decker ("Harvest," GA-ME '08) is a Virginia native who started section-hiking the AT in her teens. Living close to two A.T. trail towns (Hot Springs, North Carolina, and Erwin, Tennessee), she continues to be connected to the trail and its community. Her work can be found at sarahjonesdecker.com and rootbottomfarm.com.

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Product Reviews

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  1. Detailed shelter info 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Jul 26th 2023)

    This book contains interesting and helpful information on the shelters- water source locations are especially helpful. Lovely photos as well.


    (Submitted on Feb 20th 2023)

    This is a really nice, must have book on the shelters and pictures a must have for memories if you have thru hiked or section hiked the Appalachian trail.

  3. Beautiful Photos 4 Star Review

    (Submitted on Feb 7th 2023)

    The book is smaller than I'd hoped but the photos are beautiful and the information about them is valuable and helpful. I am planning to thru hike in 2024 and this book gives me the ability to associate a shelter to a name.

  4. Best Book on AT 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Jan 22nd 2023)

    Likely the best A.T. book I have seen.

  5. Great Addition to my AT Library 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Jan 20th 2022)

    Awesome book! Perfect in detail & fun to look back at all the Shelters that my Son & I had the pleasure of visiting on our Thru-Hike in 2013.

  6. Coffee Table Centerpiece 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Dec 14th 2021)

    This is the perfect centerpiece for the coffee table this is a great read and the pictures are fantastic to so much information in this book that is only about the lean-to structures.

  7. Quick Review - First Impressions 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on May 10th 2021)

    Love the pictures in this book. Perfect coffee table book. I have always been a fan of cabin architecture and this book complements that very well. Lots of fun facts about each shelter as well. Hopefully one day I'll be able to see them all!

  8. Great purchase 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Apr 10th 2021)

    Packed with information, beautiful photos. Love reliving my hike through this book. My great nephew is starting his adventure May 1st. Will be fun following along with this book. AT Trip 12

  9. Nice looking book 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Apr 2nd 2021)

    Have not yet had a chance to read this book, but I am certainly looking forward to it! Just leafing through it, I note the pictures are really nice and I do believe a lot of thought and research went into it. Some of the print is very light and I wish it were in a darker color. That is my only criticism. I am happy I purchased it and to have it as part of my "hiking library."

  10. Great memories! 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Apr 1st 2021)

    Some I remembered, some I didn’t see, but it was awesome looking at the shelters. Some I stayed at, some I camped close to, some I stopped in for lunch. Good job putting this together and I can’t wait to get back on the trail again!

Showing reviews 1-10 of 20 | Next

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