Date of Award

Spring 8-10-2020

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Forest Resources


John Daigle

Second Committee Member

Sandre De-Urioste Stone

Third Committee Member

Carly Sponarski


The increase of tourism and outdoor recreation popularity has produced a field of research revolved around the social and environmental impacts of visitors. Past research has shown that understanding visitor use and behavior is essential for influencing management strategies. This study focused on understanding the crowding perceptions and experiences of hikers who summit Maine’s tallest mountain, Mount Katahdin. Katahdin is designated as the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail (AT) which has seen a notable increase in use from long distance hikers in the last 25 years. Increased long-distance AT hikers, and documented issues with hiker behavior in Baxter State Park (BSP) Maine has lead park officials to implement a permitting system in order to monitor hikers and limit their numbers annually. Park officials stated that this permitting system will address potential crowding issues on the summit of Mount Katahdin and mitigate further biophysical impacts to the trail. This study used survey methods to investigate the social impacts of current populations climbing Mount Katahdin and their summit condition preferences in order to inform future management decisions. Appalachian Trail long-distance hikers, an understudied yet growing population, were featured to gain a better understanding of their perspectives, preferences, and experiences. During the summer and fall of 2017 researchers surveyed hikers at two different locations to gather information from within Park boundaries and on a neighboring property. Specific inquiries about crowding on Mount Katahdin showed that the current population of hikers do not necessarily feel crowded but could feel crowded if use continues to increase.

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