A. The Appalachian Trail shall be developed and administered primarily as a footpath, consonant with the provisions of the National Trails Systems Act applicable to the Appalachian Trail as part of the National Scenic Trails System, and its natural scenic beauty shall be preserved insofar as is practicable. The use of motorized vehicles by the general public along the trail is prohibited, and violation of this prohibition shall constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, the owner of private land over which the trail passes may use or authorize use of motorized vehicles on or across the trail for purposes incident to ownership and management of the land and the Department may authorize use of the trail by motorized emergency vehicles. The Department may permit other uses of the trail and land acquired hereunder, by the owner of adjoining land or others, in a manner and for purposes that will not substantially interfere with the primary use of the trail. Furthermore, the Department may grant temporary or permanent rights-of-way across lands acquired under this section, under terms and conditions deemed advisable. Nothing in this section shall limit the right of the public to pass over existing public roads which are part of the trail, or prevent the Department from performing work necessary for forest fire prevention and control, insect, pest and disease control, and the removal of damage caused by natural disaster. The Department may enter into cooperative agreements with agencies of the federal government or with private organizations to provide for the maintenance of the trail. A person who has granted a right-of-way for the trail across his land, or his successor in title, shall not be liable to any user of the trail for injuries suffered on that portion of the trail unless the injuries are caused by his willful or wanton misconduct.
B. The Department is authorized to (i) enter into written cooperative agreements with landowners, private organizations and individuals and (ii) acquire by agreement, gift or purchase land, rights-of-way and easements for the purpose of establishing, protecting and maintaining a walking trail right-of-way across the Commonwealth, under such terms and conditions, including payment by the Department of property taxes on trail lands or property so acquired or subject to such use, as shall protect the interests of the actual or adjacent landowners or land users and as shall further the purposes of this section. Any department or agency of the Commonwealth, or any political subdivision, may transfer to the Department land or rights in land for these purposes, on terms and conditions as agreed upon, or may enter into an agreement with the Department providing for the establishment and protection of the trail.
1971, Ex. Sess., c. 136, § 10-21.3:1; 1972, c. 413; 1984, cc. 739, 750; 1988, c. 891.