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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. Overall great book 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Mar 25th 2021)

    Really fun to reminisce on the shelters I've been to and explore the ones i haven't. Great little passages on history and other tidbits. If you are a fan of the AT I can't imagine being disappointed about this one!

  2. Huts and shelters book 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Jan 4th 2021)

    When I first saw the size of it I was a bit disappointed, hoping for coffee table size, but as I got looking at it and reading it I really think it is phenomenal.Have spent several hours just lookin and looking at all of the pictures and the information contained in it.

  3. How is that shelter 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Nov 14th 2020)

    Interesting book, with a little history and information about each shelter.

  4. Worth Waiting For 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Sep 29th 2020)

    Hiked AT in 73. Love looking at all the new and old shelters and their history. Sarah should consider a larger print for second printing.

  5. Worth Waiting For 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Sep 29th 2020)

    Hiked AT in 73. Love looking at all the new and old shelters and their history.


    (Submitted on Sep 14th 2020)

    A present for my daugther, great book with with lot of helpful information

  7. Great Book 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Aug 7th 2020)

    Well-researched & Great Photography of every Trail Shelter.

  8. This book is a "Must Have" for AT Hikers and Enthusisats 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Jul 19th 2020)

    I must admit, I really took my time with this book to savor and enjoy it. It is truly a work of art and a labor of love by Sarah Jones Decker. Her attention to detail for each shelter, the photos being perfectly framed (taken in various seasons to elevate the experience), and the intermediate sections between each state describing things like Privies, Campsites and Building material show how much work went into putting this book together. There are only a handful of books about the AT that can be considered as "the first" or "groundbreaking" in their content and approach, and this is one of them!

  9. Nicely done! 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Jun 29th 2020)

    What a nice book detailing the shelters and other info. I wish it could have been written before I did my 2 Thru hikes on the AT!

  10. Great Book 5 Star Review

    (Submitted on Jun 25th 2020)

    Filled with very useful and up-to-date information on each shelter/hut on the AT. Having pictures of each is big plus. Got as a Fathers Day gift for my husband - he has been hiking on AT for years and he said the book is must have! Highly recommend for thru-hikers and section hikers alike.

Previous | Showing reviews 11-20 of 20

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