An adventurous heart is the main ingredient found in through hikers on the Appalachian Trail, combined with lots of stamina and a love of the natural world. This too is the recipe for an Appalachian muralist, able to paint tall buildings in a single bound. Both hiker and mural art now come together in the small town of Front Royal in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
The Appalachian Mural Trail recently added the “Mountain Trails” mural in Front Royal to their growing gallery of 85 murals spanning the Appalachian Mountain Range. Front Royal is a favorite stopping off point for through hikers on the Appalachian Trail. Garry Green, the owner of Mountain Trails, an outdoors specialty store in Front Royal, decided to invest in the Appalachian Trail community of Front Royal, hiring local artist Jacqui Ris to paint a mural on the wall next to his Main Street store, depicting the trail. Now, when through hikers come off the trail for a free shower and pick up provisions, a beautiful mural awaits them.
Felicia Hart, director of tourism and community development in Front Royal, says the mural trail will continue to help the town attract outdoor enthusiasts as well as a more niche market that is less adventurous. Those adventurous hikers that take a ‘selfie’ in front of the ‘Mountain Trails’ mural and upload their photo onto the Appalachian Mural Trail website will receive a free “I Hiked the Appalachian Mural Trail” T-shirt, something they’ll appreciate greatly after their shower.
“Being able to join the Appalachian Mural Trail gives us access to a whole other target audience of people who travel just to see these murals,” Hart said. “It’s really cool to get people involved with this kind of project. This mural comes at a good time for the town as it plans to seek additional funding for more public art projects. In the end, the murals not only add to the flavor and character of the town but they also help tell our story. That story and history are all part of what makes Front Royal a destination.”
“What the mural trail is tying into is showing the local flavor, the local history, which is what murals do,” Hart says. “They help people understand, especially the newcomers into your community, a little bit of the history; murals like this get people talking.”
The Appalachian Mural Trail is dedicated to promoting murals that tell the story of the beautiful Appalachians. To preview 85 cultural historical murals located from Clay County, North Carolina all the way up into the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, go to www.muraltrail.com where you can read about the artists and find directions to travel and view the murals in person. Take a ‘selfie’ on the Appalachian Mural Trail and upload it to muraltrail.com showing that you, too, have an adventurous spirit.