Trailblazing History: Surveying the Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Over the last half a century, HEB has tackled many diverse projects across a myriad of landscapes. As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, it's a perfect moment to reflect on the journeys we've embarked upon, the challenges we've overcome, and the milestones we've achieved. Among the many projects that have defined our legacy, there is one that shines bright, both in size and status: our extensive work on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

HEB Employee surveying the Appalachian Trail Corridor in NH

Paul Getchell surveying a bump-out of the AT corridor on Mt. Hayes.

Beginning in 1992, HEB was contracted by the United States Department of Interior, National Park Service, to provide “exterior corridor boundary surveys” along the iconic Appalachian National Scenic Trail through Vermont & New Hampshire. For close to 10 years, HEB worked closely with the project headquarters in West Virginia completing surveys, maps, and boundary marking of acquired properties in several sections of the longest linear national park in the world, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. This massive and demanding project was not just a test of our technical capabilities but also a profound responsibility—to preserve the beauty and integrity of one of America's most cherished landscapes.

Our survey team, equipped with ingenuity and grit, navigated some of the most remote and rugged terrain in the area, in order to complete their work in a timely fashion. Getting access and supplies to trail locations required the use of a combination of four-wheel drive vehicles and ski lifts, but mostly strong backs and legs. On several occasions, HEB survey staff spent the night in base camps and a wide variety of lodgings due to the challenge of getting access on a daily basis to trail locations. In many areas, the trail corridor was re-routed to avoid civilization.  One of the most complex negotiations took place in Killington, Vermont, where the trail was re-routed off the ridgeline in places to avoid downhill ski operations while in other locations, ski lifts and trails were moved or abandoned to free up the ridge for the Appalachian Trail.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail corridor - NH & VT

Appalachian National Scenic Trail protected corridor through New Hampshire and Vermont. Image from USFS Automated Lands Program.

This was a project full of logistical challenges and teamwork demands, but those who worked on it still take pride in having helped complete the iconic Appalachian National Scenic Trail. The work HEB engaged in wasn't just about mapping and marking; it was about preserving a piece of American heritage, ensuring the Appalachian Trail's legacy for future generations.

Stay tuned throughout the year for more fun facts and memories from HEB's history!