Meet An Appalachian ‘Trail Angel’

Paul Stiffler, better known as Ponytail Paul, is a “trail angel” on the Appalachian Trail (AT). Trail angels are folks who help hikers in various ways, particularly on long trails like the AT and Pacific Crest Trail, and they are revered by hikers for their selflessness.

For Stiffler, the 2,186-mile Appalachian Trail and helping its thru-hikers has been the therapeutic force needed to turn his life around, giving him a new sense of purpose.

“I’m helping them,” he said. “But they’re helping me at the same time.”

This is one in a series of three short films featuring the stories of people connected to three trails: The Appalachian Trail, Arizona Trail, and Bay Area Ridge Trail. Learn more about how Every Trail Connects at