Great Eastern Trail
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (August 2012)|
|Great Eastern Trail|
|Length||1600 mi (2575 km)|
North Country Trail
|Trail difficulty||Moderate to Strenuous|
The Great Eastern Trail project began as an attempt to create a second long hiking route through the Appalachians west of the Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States. Several other names were suggested and used earlier, including the Western Appalachian Alternative.
More recently, it was redefined as a potential connector in the US National Trails System, linking the Florida National Scenic Trail in the south to the North Country National Scenic Trail in New York.
The project enjoyed support from the American Hiking Society and the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program of the US National Park Service but then became an independent entity. The Great Eastern Trail Association was incorporated in Virginia on August 10, 2007 by signatories from the nine states through which the trail passes.
Many sections of Great Eastern Trail are already hikeable for day use and backpackers - see the summary on the official website. The longest continuously-usable sections are on the Pinhoti National Recreation Trail, and from the Allegheny Trail at I-64 exit 1, just east of the VA/WV border, northward through portions of Virginia, West Virginia, all of Maryland, all of Pennsylvania, to a junction with Finger Lakes Trail carrying North Country National Scenic Trail near South Bradford, New York.
On January 10, 2013, "Hillbilly" Bart Houck (Mullens, WV) and Joanna "Someday" Swanson (Willow River, MN) started hiking in Alabama and arrived in New York on June 18, 2013, becoming the first ever to complete a thru-hike of the Great Eastern Trail.
Trails Used in System
Route from south to north with gaps, according to the Great Eastern Trail Concept Plan:
- Gap to close in Alabama from Pinhoti Trail to Florida Trail
- Pinhoti Trail
- Gap to close in northwest Georgia to Tennessee-Georgia state line
- Cumberland Trail
- Pine Mountain Trail
- A new link from Pine Mountain Trail to the Appalachian Trail, passing through Matewan, West Virginia, Mullens, West Virginia, and Hinton, West Virginia
- Brief connection to Appalachian Trail near Pearisburg, Virginia
- Allegheny Trail
- Connecting trails on or near the Virginia-West Virginia state line
- Tuscarora Trail
- Diverges at Hancock, Maryland into two routes that form a loop
- Eastern route
- Western route
- "Great Eastern Trail Concept Plan: A 2000-mile hiking trail, paralleling the Appalachian Trail, linking Alabama and New York." (Word Document). Great Eastern Trail Association. October 2009. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
- Guide to Pennsylvania Mid State Trail, 12th edition (Huntingdon, PA: Mid State Trail Association, 2012)