Blazing Ahead

The Appalachian Trail is one of America’s most revered resources, a path of near-mythic proportions combining rugged natural beauty and human determination. But few know the story of its journey to creation. The idea could have died in the pages of a journal had it not been for the efforts of many people—including two, in particular: Benton MacKaye and Myron Avery. While the men shared a common goal, their vastly different personalities meant it was only a matter of time before these sometimes-allies, sometimes-adversaries reached a dramatic falling out. Blazing Ahead tells the remarkable story of a dreamer and a doer, weaving together history and biography to detail the internal and external forces the trail builders faced: raw ambition, unbridled egos, a driving love of nature, the 1929 stock market crash, looming World War II, and the prevailing opinions of the day on wilderness and recreation. Drawing upon never-before-published archives, as well as the men’s own correspondence and vivid storytelling, Blazing Ahead uncovers the true but largely unknown story of a shared vision, the rivalry it bred, and the legacy of the men behind one of our nation’s greatest treasures.