Missing Appalachian Trail Hiker’s Body Found in Shenandoah, Park Officials Say

James Alan Cattley was reported missing on December 12, but may have disappeared months earlier.

Photo: Douglas Rissing / iStock via Getty

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A body found in Shenandoah National Park appears to belong to a missing Appalachian Trail hiker, the National Park Service has indicated.

In a press release issued on January 3, Shenandoah officials said that they and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management had suspended the search for James Alan Cattley after personnel found a body believed to be him in the southern portion of the park the previous day.

Authorities transported the body to the medical examiner’s office in Augusta County in order to definitively identify it and determine a cause of death.

james alan cattley
James Alan Cattley (Photo: Courtesy NPS)

Cattley, 66, had been officially missing since mid-December, but may have disappeared several months earlier. In an earlier release, the NPS said that he had filed a permit on September 22, 2022, for a seven-day hike on the AT and expected to wrap up by October 6. He was reported missing on December 12, and on December 15, park employees found his car in the Turk Mountain parking area while preparing to close Skyline Drive in advance of a forecast ice storm. (That storm and another on December 22 caused widespread damage, leading to weeks of closures. Although park officials announced a partial reopening on Friday, January 6, large swaths of Skyline Drive are still closed, and officials are warning visitors that hiking trails may be damaged or blocked by debris.)

Shenandoah National Park contains 104 miles of the AT, or nearly 20% of the trail’s total mileage in Virginia. On its website, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy calls the stretch of trail in the park “well-maintained” and “great for beginners,” noting that few climbs there are more than 500 to 1,000 feet.

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