I've read quite a few articles in the last few months about how the various books movies that have come out about hiking some thru trails are causing a big increase in the number of hikers out there.
The Appalachia Trail had a huge surge of people going to it after the funny book "Walk in the Woods" came out, and the PCT in the west is seeing a similar effect with the release of Cheryl Strayed's "Wild," and the movie to go with it. It seems that 30% more permits were applied for this year than last. Since it's hard to gauge exactly how many people are on the trail each year, it's hard to say just how much it has grown, but it seems like a lot.
What do you think about all this growth? I've seen a lot of more experienced hikers complaining about it: people don't know what they're doing, they're leaving the trails a mess, they don't really care about the hike just the story, etc. etc.
Personally, I think it was an inevitable change as the trails got more popular and popular over time. The boom was just accelerated by the movie and books. And when Walk in the Woods comes out soon, it'll boom again!