Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Introducing the 'Fifty Trail'

Chances are you've already hiked on it.

The Fifty Trail is so-named because it connects the 49 continental US States and the District together into one trail.  It also connects and uses all eleven of our famous long distance trails, the National Scenic Trails.

And that's the other reason for this trail.  It celebrates the Fiftieth Anniversary of the signing of the legislation that sanctioned these trails--the National Trails Act.

Here's a link to the on-line Fifty Trail 'Guide.'  It's accessible via the 'Fifty Trail Guide' tab on this blog too.  It's a work in progress, and I'll be adding more detail as time permits.

This year, as I head to Colorado and complete my "Personal Continuous Footpath" journey to connect every place I've ever lived with a trail of footprints, I'll be hiking portions of the Fifty Trail.

You see, as I'm coming close to finally finishing that 'hiking home' project, I've begun thinking about what's next.  And the idea that kept recurring was to continue my continuous footprints and touch every state.

For several years now I've been gathering information and thinking about routes that might accomplish that.  The Fifty Trail is the culmination of that planning.

Completing that entire route is surely beyond my personal capability, given that I'm now turning 70 years old.  But it provides a framework and a purpose for all the amazing hikes I will do.

Below is a small album featuring some of the highlights of the Fifty Trail.  It starts in Alaska, on the Pacific Ocean at Resurrection Bay.  It follows the Iditarod Trail then the Alaska Highway and picks up Canada's 700 mile Great Divide Trail through the Canadian Rockies.  Into the US at Glacier National Park it heads west to Washington via the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.  I'll let the photos take it from there:

Mt. Rainier via the Wonderland Trail
Yep, the Death Valley Traverse is part of the Fifty Trail
Mirror Lake, one of the remote parts of Rocky Mountain National Park, the north side of the park.  The Fifty Trail follows a lot of the Continental Divide Trail, but here it is on its own route through the remote Comanche Peak Wilderness.
South Dakota via the Great Plains Trail
Devil's Tower, Wyoming
Upper Michigan's Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  This is the Escarpment Trail.
Wisconsin's Dells of the Eau Claire along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Ash Cave, Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio, the Grandma Gatewood Trail.
Pine Log State Forest - a view from the Florida Trail
Chief Vann House, Pinhoti Trail and Trail of Tears, Georgia
The Roan High Balds on the Appalachian Trail, border of NC and Tennessee
Delaware Beach State Park, headed to the eastern terminus of the American Discovery Trail at Cape Henlopen.
Comprehensive tour of both banks of the lower Susquehanna River, PA, via the Conestoga and Mason-Dixon Trails
New York City skyline as seen from the Appalachian Trail on Black Mountain, the oldest section of the Appalachian Trail.
Sunfish Pond on a misty early May morning, Appalachian Trail in New Jersey
Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts High Point, as seen from (obviously) the Appalachian Trail
Avery Peak, Maine, named in honor of the AT pioneer Myron Avery, first person to hike the entire trail

The Fifty Trail ends where the sun first shines on the United States, at West Quoddy Head Lighthouse on the eastern tip of Maine.

The Fifty Trail.  More to explore than you can shake a stick at.  Check the guide pages for more inspirations.  Then get out there and take a walk!


  1. Man, this is an awesome concept. Although brutal and unbelievable challenging, not to mention extremely time consuming this would be my kinda of style and a dream come true. To be able to experience so many different environments without a piece of glass in between you and everything going by at 65 miles an hour would be truly epic and an extreme dream of mine. What a great planned route. Unfortunately for most of us we are neither significantly well off or free of the confines of those crappy things we call bills, myself included. Oh but a man can dream. Thanks for sharing this its the perfect idea for a grand adventure for someone and I hope I could live vicariously through them.

    1. Great comment - thanks so much. And you've expressed my thoughts perfectly. Huge challenge, a focus for big dreams.

      I've always been a big picture thinker, so this came naturally.

      And ... well ... I've already hiked some big chunks of the route. Having the rest of it set down in print inspires me to keep trekking, exactly as I hope it does for many others.

    2. Winter in yellowknife is also a dream of mine as is wintering over. To live and dream!

    3. James - One of my bucket list items is to spend a full year cycle at Longyearbyen, Svalbard, 78 degrees north, so it's pitch dark in mid-winter and has three months of uninterrupted sunshine. Yellowknife is a lot colder, so it depends what you're after. What lures me is the chance to experience the change of daylight hours. They say February in Svalbard is magical because each day is noticeably brighter than the last.

    4. I'm a huge fan of extremes, namely extreme cold and extreme distances, but not a huge fan of extreme heat although no doubt this hike would take some extreme heat it would be well worth it. I would absolutely love to winter over as not many people can say they did plus I am absolutely interested about everything Antarctica has to offer.

  2. Any idea on how long the whole trail is? My rough guess is about 13000 miles?

    1. I'm working on getting a solid number, and will definitely post it once I have it. My estimate is about 17,000 miles. There are lots of little 'squiggles' and they add up. The route through Minnesota alone, for example, is more than 800 miles.

    2. I was also trying to figure that out but I was thinking more like closer to 20,000.

  3. Replies
    1. Number 50 is the District of Columbia the way I'm counting things. There's also an appendix in the trail guide that covers Hawaii.