American Discovery Trail

American Discovery Trail

Origins of the American Discovery Trail

From April 1980 to May 1981, several dozen hikers walked across America in an event sponsored by the American Hiking Society and called HikaNation.  This event became an inspiration for the American Discovery Trail.  The inspiration led to formation of the American Discovery Trail Society and efforts to link trails and little-used roads into a continuous non-motorized trail across the mid-section of the United States.  The trail covers almost 5000 miles and more when alternate options are counted.

What is the American Discovery Trail?

It is the nation’s only coast-to-coast, non-motorized trail. Stretching across fifteen states, it links some of the country’s most spectacular natural areas, mountains and prairies, deserts and canyons-with historic forts, small towns, and city greenways, and allows people to hike, bike, or ride horses for an afternoon, a weekend, a month-long vacation across a state, or a coast-to-coast adventure.  It crosses fourteen national parks and sixteen national forests and uses sections of or connects to five National Scenic Trails, ten National Historic Trails, and twenty-three National Recreation Trails

Through Hiking the American Discovery Trail

Through hiking the Pacific Crest and Appalachian trails has become a goal for many, but few take on the American Discovery Trail.  The Society tells about the first people to complete the through hike:

On October 15, 2005, Ken and Marcia Powers became the first hikers to complete a continuous backpack of the country’s first Atlantic-to-Pacific trail. Others have made this 4,900-mile trek, but this husband-and-wife team are the first to follow the actual American Discovery Trail route continuously and finish in the same year.

They set a blistering pace, averaging more than 20 miles per day, including some 30-mile days. Ken and Marcia started their journey from the Atlantic coast in Delaware’s Cape Henlopen State Park on February 27, and took only four rest days on the entire 231-day trek.

Because the Powers had previously completed hiking the “triple crown” (three of the country’s 2,000-mile-plus trails: the Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest), some are calling their latest accomplishment a “grand slam.” The ADT is their longest and most impressive accomplishment yet.

These amazing retirees, both in their 50s, saw the wonders of our nation on foot, not in an RV. And as they followed the American Discovery Trail through 13 states, they experienced the best scenery the country has to offer and inspiring acts of generosity from their fellow citizens in this adventure of a lifetime.

“We feel we are privileged to see something special,” says Marcia.

Learn More

If you would like to give the trail a try, or just learn more about it,  hop on over to the American Discovery Trail website to get the details.

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