Same Destination, Different Trail: Changes Coming to AMC Magazine

amc outdoors
Illustration by Jon LavalleyAMC Outdoors magazine is changing again after nearly three decades in print.

 

AMC’S 101 years of trail-building is a story of adaptability. Every year, our trail crews head out to blaze routes from trailhead to summit, knowing their destination, but not always what they will encounter along the way. Technology helps determine elevation in each section, but the challenges that pop up—large rocks, safe water crossings, storm damage—are unexpected. Yet the crews adapt to meet their goals.

COVID-19 presented the editors of AMC Outdoors with our own unexpected obstacle—shifting from a print publication to digital, a transition that elicits both sadness and excitement. Yes, this is likely the last time you’ll read this magazine in print. While our medium is changing, our mission to provide our readers with compelling, informative, and original articles is not going away. In fact, we’ll be ramping that up more. 

The earliest iteration of this magazine dates back to 1907, when AMC began publishing Appalachia Bulletin, a supplement to Appalachia journal intended to “serve as a monthly gazette of the doings of the Club” and “give reports of past meetings and excursions while they are live topics in the minds of the members,” according to the first issue. Traditional journalism in the form of narrative features, news articles, and photography covering a broader range of environmental topics slowly crept into issues of the Bulletin, but it wasn’t until 1993 that the AMC Outdoors name first appeared on a standalone magazine. Since then, AMC Outdoors has undergone multiple redesigns, the most recent wrapping up in 2019, and has maintained its commitment to reporting on outdoor recreation and conservation topics that appeal to our members. 

Many members will appreciate the ecological implications of our moving away from printing and mailing paper. We think you’ll also appreciate the journalistic nimbleness that will come with moving to a digital format, with its capacity for even more timely stories on trails, environmental policy, and recreation trends and news.

For managing editor Kelleigh Welch, through all of her travels AMC Outdoors has remained a constant, even before joining the publication in 2018. During her 10-plus years as an AMC member, each issue has held a place of honor on her coffee table, giving her stories from across the region as she navigates trails in New York, New Jersey, central Massachusetts, Boston, and New Hampshire. Of all the joys this magazine has brought her, the in-person interactions are what stand out—meeting members in huts and lodges, along trails, and even for a drink at an AMC social. Hearing members’ stories and what motivates them to be outdoors provides her with the bulk of her inspiration for her articles, and she’s excited to get back out there and learn more.

Associate editor Steve Holt was a newbie to AMC and the magazine when he joined the staff in 2018, but he quickly recognized the important place it holds in the reading diets of the club’s members. He’s so proud of the strong, credible voice the publication has developed across the region, telling anyone who’ll listen that AMC Outdoors is the resource of note for outdoors lovers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

The editors are now working out how to best present an all-digital AMC Outdoors, an effort that coincides with the head-to-toe overhaul of outdoors.org. But our goal remains the same. Like our trail crews, we’re focused on delivering an enjoyable experience for you—as readers, hikers, paddlers, climbers, and skiers. There may be a big rock to climb over, or a stream to navigate across, but that’s all part of the fun of the journey, isn’t it? 


LEARN MORE:

  • Read President and CEO John Judge’s letter about some of the changes coming to AMC.
  • Keep up with AMC’s response to COVID-19, including closures and online education opportunities.
  • Subscribe to AppalachiaAmerica’s oldest mountaineering journal.

 

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Kelleigh Welch and Steve Holt

Kelleigh Welch is the managing editor of AMC Outdoors. Steve Holt is the associate editor.