Appalachian National Scenic Trail – Morgan’s Mill, VA

In 2022, the National Park Service (NPS) contacted the National Park Trust seeking help to acquire a 128-acre parcel of land along the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) in Virginia.

The 128-acre property is within view from the trail, and development or timber harvest would impact the scenery and hiking experience. This addition to the AT would also increase the wild and undeveloped buffer to the trail itself.

The property owners had it listed on the open market in an active real estate listing. The NPS could not purchase the property in less than 6-9 months, and the owners were unwilling to hold it off the market that long. Because of this, NPS asked the Park Trust to buy and hold the land until they could complete their process for accepting the property. In September 2022, the Park Trust took ownership of this property and will hold the land until it can be conveyed to NPS.

The Land Trust of Virginia identifies the acreage as one of its highest priority parcels for protection under its Blue Ridge Conservation Initiative. The Commonwealth of Virginia rates it “very high” in ecological value and “very high to outstanding” in forest conservation value. The property is also in an area that is highly resilient to climate change, as determined by The Nature Conservancy.

Project Details:

Project Years: 2022-2023 

Parcel Size: 128.26 acres 

Project Cost: $566,652

Park Trust Role: Due diligence, buy and hold

Value to the Park and Public:
  • Eliminates the possibility of development in close proximity of and within view of the AT.
  • Adds additional green space along the AT, to continue to give hikers the experience of hiking in a wild, undeveloped woodland
  • Incorporation into the AT adds and permanently protects climate change-resilient land
  • Furthers NPS protection mission as well as Commonwealth of Virginia, Nature Conservancy and Land  Trust of Virginia conservation objectives

Map of site location in relation to Front Royal, VA and close-up of locations