King of the Appalachian Trail: A Stephenson Center for Appalachia lecture

March 10, 2017

Warren Doyle, the record holder for the most complete traverses of the Appalachian Trail, will present a program on his Trail experiences at Lees-McRae College on Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. in Evans Auditorium as a Stephenson Center for Appalachia lecturer.

A legend among hikers, Doyle has made the complete 2,190-mile trip 17 times with nine through-hikes and eight section-hikes. For more than 40 years the Appalachian Trail has formed the focus of his life, beginning in 1973 when at the age of 23, Doyle hit the trail at Springer Mountain, Georgia. Sixty-six-and-a-third days later he stood on Mt. Katahdin, considerably lighter in body but also in spirit. He had established a trail endurance record, and he has never truly left the Trail since. 

His visit to Lees-McRae as a Stephenson Center for Appalachian lecturer is a homecoming of sorts for the storied traveler. 

Doyle taught in the Education Department of the college for seven years, and served at one point as director of the Stephenson Center. Today, Doyle lives near Mountain City, Tennessee, where he runs the Appalachian Folk School, which includes his Appalachian Trail Institute, a hands-on primer for folks wanting to make the trek.

“People who are planning to hike the Trail come in for a five-day preparatory program. The main purpose is to increase their chances of completing their hike by providing them with the most realistic, comprehensive and updated information and guidance,” Doyle said.

Covering trail history, trip logistics, food, equipment, conditioning and psychological and emotional aspects of long distance hiking, the course is intensive and effective. According to Doyle, 75 percent of those who graduate complete their hikes, a success rate more than four times that of hikers without the benefit of his expertise and guidance.

He also has led eight Appalachian Trail Circle Expeditions in which he takes a group from start to finish on a through hike of the Trail. According to Doyle, of the eight Circle Expeditions, seven have had 100 percent completion rates.

“We invite everyone to come to Warren’s program. He presents a unique, experience-based picture of life on the Appalachian Trail and its physical and spiritual benefits,” Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center said. “Warren vividly presents his Trail stories and will happily answer anyone’s questions about long-range hiking.”

The Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae College Lecture Series is open to everyone and is free of charge.  

For information, contact Michael Joslin at For further information about Warren Doyle, go to

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