Chocolate: A Trail’s Best Friend

The Appalachian Trail extends from Georgia to Maine, stretching for approximately 3,500 km. Conceived by a Connecticut forester in the 1920s, the trail’s management by a network of volunteers and its division into “clubs” or regional sections inspired the formation of Canada’s longest footpath, Ontario’s Bruce Trail, in the 1960s.

In addition to volunteers, both trail conservancies rely on donations and partnerships for maintenance and to ensure that development does not threaten the trail corridor. Organic chocolate maker Salazon recently shared the story of why they support the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and 1% for the Planet.

Salazon bars bear the Appalachian Trail logo on each wrapper.
Hiking partner: Salazon bar with Appalachian Trail logo and photo.

“Since its formation, Salazon’s mission has been to make the best salted dark chocolate possible, and to make it in an ethical and sustainable manner. However, creating an ethical, sustainable business is not a one-sided endeavor. We’ve found that the best way to fulfill this mission is to build the right relationships and make them long-term. This early insight led us to pursue partnerships with social and environmental advocates. From there, deciding to work with 1% for the Planet was a no-brainer.

Photo by Brent McGuirt. Courtesy

For ethical companies, it’s critical to ensure that charitable contributions are being put to good use. But as a small company, this is often easier said than done. That’s why forming relationships with trustworthy, respected, well-connected, and highly visible organizations – like 1% for the Planet – is so important. We can rest easy knowing that 1% for the Planet connects us with nonprofits devoted to protecting our planet. Because 1% for the Planet takes care of the legwork for us, we can focus on the other part of our mission…making the best salted dark chocolate on the market!

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Salazon’s commitment to the country’s major trail systems can be traced back to the origin of the company. We’re passionate about hiking and connecting with nature; the idea for Salazon was even conceived during a backpacking trip in Utah. What’s more, the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), the country’s oldest and original protected trail, is right in our back yard and we frequently find ourselves on the trail in our spare time. The ability to get out and hike the trail for a day, a week, or even go for a life-changing six-month hike is the magic of the A.T., making it so important to protect. Maintaining these trails requires a tremendous amount of effort, so we’ve pursued every opportunity to partner with organizations dedicated to trail stewardship such as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC). We started out just offering free chocolate for A.T. events and sponsoring some inspiring thru-hikers, but the relationship has grown from there.

The ATC’s mission is to preserve and manage the Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. They are the only organization dedicated to preserving and managing all its 2,180 miles. To accomplish this, the ATC relies on agency partners and 31 trail-maintaining clubs comprised of approximately 6,000 volunteers. Of course, significant resources are required to support this work. Corporate partners such as Salazon provide the much needed resources to fill in budgetary deficits. In turn, the ATC is able to fulfill its mission.

Appalachian Trail marker. Photo by Kelson via Wikimedia Commons.
Appalachian Trail marker. Photo by Kelson via Wikimedia Commons.

Funding from Salazon contributes directly to a number of ongoing projects. These include infrastructure restoration activities such as trail relocations, creation and maintenance of waterbars, and shelter and bridge repair. In addition, these funds support key educational programs such as the Trail to Every Classroom, A.T. Community, and RidgeRunner; all of which build awareness about the value of the Trail.

We’re incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with like-minded organizations such as the ATC. Just like with 1% for the Planet, we know our contribution is put to good use. At Salazon, we feel that businesses large and small have a responsibility to operate ethically and as sustainable as possible. Our nonprofit relationships have truly been a blessing and we’ll continue looking for ways to increase our support.”

Reblogged from 1% for the Planet.