Earl Victor Shaffer
The story of how one man's quest to find peace in the mountains led to a lifetime of adventure for himself and others
An outdoorsman, poet, and hiker, Earl Victor Shaffer was born in 1918 in Pennsylvania. His upbringing near the woods instilled in him a love for nature, and when he returned from serving in the Army during WWII, it was nature that he turned to for healing.
In honor of his friend Walter Winemiller, Earl decided to take on the challenge of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, seeking through his journey to "walk off the war."
In 1948, after 4 months of walking more than 2,000 miles from Mount Oglethorpe in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine, Earl became the first person to ever thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.
To this day, he is remembered for his groundbreaking thru-hikes (as the first, then oldest thru-hiker 50 years later in 1998), as well as for his beautiful Trail-inspired poetry, and advocacy for the Appalachian Trail.
We welcome you to explore the story and legacy of Earl Shaffer - first thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail, and listen to his music, watch his widely-given 1948 thru-hike slideshow presentation, and explore more Appalachian Trail thru-hiking history through our website.
Find Earl's books - including Walking With Spring, his 1948 thru-hiking story, and other poetry books here
Listen to Earl Shaffer's Appalachian Trail inspired music here
Read more about Earl Shaffer's legacy in the Appalachian Trail community and Trail conservation here
Read news and updates from the Earl Shaffer Foundation
Explore the digital exhibitions of Earl Shaffer's boots and hiking gear, and trail diary here
Support our work by becoming an annual or lifetime member here!
Read our regular newsletter, with writing, photography, and poetry by Earl Shaffer and other AT hikers here
Learn more about the Earl Shaffer Foundation and our work in publishing and community outreach here.
Shop for merchandise, including Earl's famous poem about Mt. Katahdin, here