Parts of the Appalachian Trail defaced in the Berkshires

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – If you take a hike along the Appalachian Trail in North Adams, nature’s beauty can be seen with every step.

"At that top of this trail is an overlook. North Adams and the Taconic Range and also the Hoosick to the left, to the east," said Cosmo Catalano, a volunteer with the Appalachian Trail Management Committee in Massachusetts.

Catalano is in charge of monitoring two miles of the trail. This week, while making his rounds, Catalano discovered someone had spray-painted permanent red markings and words on trees and rocks along the trail.

"This doesn’t appear to be politically motivated in any way. I guess mostly guidance, perhaps for a trail run, for a group hike of some kind," said Catalano.

However, Catalano points out the trail is well-marked as is. White blazes can be seen every hundred feet or so.

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Volunteers say most people respect the path, but last year they did see an increase in the amount of trash hikers left behind as more people took to the trail during the pandemic. Other graffiti has popped up in various locations from time to time.

"Sometimes some campsites, people will put graffiti, carve their names into the shelter or the picnic tables. We like to discourage that," said Catalano.

However, this time is a little different. Catalano says the red paint will be difficult to remove. Right now, the plan is to wait until spring, after mother nature has a chance to give them a head start over the winter.

In the meantime, volunteers hope hikers do their part to preserve this national treasure.

"Anything unusual that you see on the trail, feel free to report it," said Catalano. "We really like hikers to just carry in and carry out. Whatever they bring in, they should take back with them."