Group Looks To Create A 6100-Mile-Long Hiking Trail In US

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.

12-Year-Old Hiking The Appalachian Trail

Unlike most kids her age, 12-year-old Reed Gjonnes won’t be spending the summer hanging around the house doing nothing. The young lady and her father Eric have traveled from their home in Oregon to the eastern U.S. where they are spending their summer hiking the Appalachian Trail, a route that runs from Maine to Georgia and stretches 2180 miles in length.

The father-daughter duo began their hike back in April at the southernmost point of the trail, which is located on Springer Mountain in Georgia. Since then they have been hiking north, covering an average of about 25 miles per day. That’s a very impressive number considering the remote and rugged terrain that the trail covers. Along the way they’ve camped under the stars, encountered a wide array of wildlife and met numerous other hikers.

The trip hasn’t been without its challenges. While passing through Pennsylvania a few weeks back, Reed tripped on the rocky ground and broke her arm. Her dad was able to create a makeshift sling using one of his shirts and the two managed to walk into a nearby town in search of a doctor. After getting a cast put on her arm and spending a couple of days resting up, they were soon back on the trail and covering more miles.

While the nearly 2200 mile long Appalachian Trail may seem daunting to most of us, it isn’t even the longest trail that Reed and Eric have walked together. Last year they spent the summer hiking the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, which runs north from California’s border with Mexico, ending in British Columbia, Canada. Next year they plan to trek America’s third classic trail, the 3100-mile long Continental Divide Trail, which also runs from Canada to Mexico, passing through five western U.S. states in the process.

[Photo credit: Kitson Jazynka of the Washington Post]

Woman sets new speed record on Appalachian Trail

Long distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis completed an end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail on Sunday, setting a new speed record in the process. The 28-year old endured long days on the trail, plenty of insects, record heat, and nagging injuries along the way to the finish.

Pharr Davis began her trek at the AT’s northern trail head, located on Mount Katahdin in Maine. Hiking for 15+ hours a day, she managed to cover the entire 2200-mile length of the AT in just 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, reaching the end on Springer Mountain in Georgia this past Sunday. That’s a full day faster than previous record holder Andrew Thompson’s time (47:13:31) and more than ten days faster than Jennifer’s previous record for a female hiker, which stood at 57 days, 8 hours, and 13 minutes.

Between Maine and Georgia, the trail passes through 14 states and offers hundreds of access points along the way. On an annual basis, the AT sees 2-3 million hikers, although most are content to walk just a small section of the full route. There are a few however who take it upon themselves to thru-hike the entire length, with most taking months to complete the journey.

To put into perspective Jennifer’s accomplishment; she managed to walk more than 47 miles per day for 46 days. That’s a very impressive stat considering the terrain that she had to cross through often involved rugged climbs and descents and was usually through dense forests as well. The daily grind of walking that many miles is enough to take its toll on anyone and is a true test of stamina and determination.

[Photo courtesy Mike Dirks/Times-News]

Ireland added to the Appalachian Trail

You’ve heard us sing the praises of the Appalachian Trail on more than one occasion here on Gadling. It’s the 2181-mile long trekking route that runs from Georgia to Maine that is considered amongst the best in the world. Turns out, the trail just got a whole lot longer, stretching all the way across the ocean to Ireland.

Officially, the AT is an American trail, and more than 2.5 million hikers use at least some segment of it on an annual basis. But there is also an International Appalachian Trail that extends all the way to the most northerly point of Newfoundland, Canada, adding an additional 1900+ miles to the route. That IAT is now jumping across the pond to Ireland, where it will run from Donegal to Antrim. According to Paul Wylezol, Chairman of the International Appalachian Trail, Ireland was added to the IAT because of “its direct physical connection to Newfoundland across geologic time, and its cultural and ethnic connection to eastern Canada and the US in modern times.”

In other words, Ireland once was connected to North America as part of the super-continent known as Pangaea, and because of that, it is getting added to the Appalachian Trail. Organizers hope to also add sections in Scotland, Norway and Greenland, as mountains in those locations are geologically related to the Appalachian Mountains. In fact, there are some indications that they may have once been a single range, before continental drift pushed the Earth’s land masses out to their current locations.

Hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail has long been considered one of the most impressive accomplishments in long distance trekking. For those hoping to achieve that feat in the future, it has suddenly gotten a lot longer and more challenging. I don’t think a pair of water proof boots are going to cut it.

[Photo credit: Paulbalegend via WikiMedia]

Hiking the length of the Appalachian Trail in five minutes

The Appalachian Trail is considered one of the crown jewels of long distance hiking. The route, which runs for nearly 2200 miles, stretches through 14 states between Maine and Georgia and takes most hikers months to walk end to end. Along the way, they find dense forests, crystal clear lakes, and stunning mountain views that are incomparable in the Eastern United States.

For most of us, hiking the entire length of the AT just isn’t possible however. We have jobs, families, and various other responsibilities that prevent us from getting away for months at a time. But thanks to Kevin Gallagher, we can all finally get to experience the trail in all of its glory. Kevin spent six months hiking the Appalachian Trail and has produced the following video, which is aptly named Green Tunnel. The stop motion film was created from photos taken along the route and strung together to give us a sense of what it is like to hike the AT. The result is that we can cover the whole trail in just under five minutes.

Warning: Watching the following video may cause your feet to get itchy and could possibly result in the purchising of a new set of hiking boots. Gadling can not be held responsible for such side effects. Thank you.

[Photo credit: Paulba via WikiMedia]

Green Tunnel from Kevin Gallagher on Vimeo.