There is a movement afoot to link up two of America’s longest hiking trails in order to create a new route for long distance hikers and backpackers. The proposal would unite the iconic Appalachian Trail with the lesser-known North Country National Scenic Trail, creating a route that would stretch for more than 6100 miles.
The two trails, which stretch 2170 miles and 4600 miles in length respectively, are actually just 40 miles apart at their closest point in Vermont. This has led members of the North Country Trail Association to open a dialog with the National Park Service and local Vermont hiking groups to discuss the idea of linking the two routes. Those discussions have proven fruitful and hikers could soon see that 40-mile gap closed by a new trail.
Almost every hiker is familiar with the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, passing through 14 states in the process. It is considered a true American classic and millions flock to it each year to walk all or a part of the route.
In contrast, the North Country Trail crosses seven states between New York and North Dakota and has remained a work in progress since it was first conceived back in 1980. Sections of the trail are still being developed and unlike its more famous cousin, the NCT is often lacking in campsites and other facilities. To date, just 11 people have managed to hike it end-to-end and it sees far less traffic on an annual basis than the AT.
Even if plans to unite the two trails come to fruition, it is likely to be a few years before they are officially connected. Once they are, however, long distance trekkers will have a new challenge and it’ll only be a matter of time before someone attempts to hike both routes end-to-end.