American Discovery Trail

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American Discovery Trail
The American Discovery Trail, including its northern and southern routes.
Length 6800 mi (10944 km)
Location United States
Trailheads Cape Henlopen, Delaware;
Limantour Beach, California
Use Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking
Highest point Argentine Pass, 13,207 ft (4,025 m)
Lowest point California Delta between Isleton and Antioch, −17 ft (−5.2 m)
Hiking details
Trail difficulty Easy to Strenuous
Season All year
Sights National Parks, National Forests
Hazards Severe Weather

The American Discovery Trail is a system of recreational trails and roads which collectively form a coast-to-coast hiking and biking trail across the mid-tier of the United States. Horses can also be ridden on most of this trail.[1] It starts on the Delmarva Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and ends on the northern California coast on the Pacific Ocean. The trail has northern and southern alternates for part of its distance, passing through Chicago and St Louis respectively. The total length of the trail including both the north and south routes is 6,800 miles (10,900 km). The northern route covers 4,834 miles (7,780 km) with the southern route covering 5,057 miles (8,138 km). It is the only non-motorized coast-to-coast trail.

The trail passes through 14 national parks and 16 national forests and uses sections of or connects to five National Scenic Trails, 10 National Historic Trails, and 23 National Recreation Trails. For part of its distance, it is coincident with the North Country Trail and the Buckeye Trail.

The trail passes through the District of Columbia and the following 15 states:

Hiking records[edit]

ADT Society's official trail logo[1]

Joyce and Pete Cottrell, of Whitefield, New Hampshire, were the first to backpack the entire official route of the American Discovery Trail. They hiked the segments out of sequence over two calendar years, finishing in 2003.

The first hikers to complete the trail in one continuous walk were Marcia and Ken Powers, a wife and husband team from Pleasanton, California. Their trailwalk lasted from February 27 to October 15, 2005. They started out from Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware and ended at Point Reyes, California. They trailed 5,058 miles (8,140 km) by foot, averaging 22 miles (35 km) a day.

The first person to backpack the entire 6,800 miles (including both Northern and Southern sections) in one continuous hike was Mike "Lion King" Daniel. He started from Cape Henlopen State Park on June 17, 2007, and ended at Point Reyes, California on November 5, 2008.

Notable locations[edit]

The following notable locations are found along or adjacent to the route of the American Discovery Trail. They are listed from east to west to correspond with the itinerary typically followed by thru-hikers to take advantage of the best seasonal weather conditions.

  • Cape Henlopen State Park, the eastern terminus of the trail in Delaware.
  • Argentine Pass, Colorado, the highest point in the trail where it crosses the Rockies.
  • Limantour Beach, Point Reyes, the western terminus of the trail in California.


  1. ^ a b "Frequently Asked Questions". News and Information. American Discovery Trail. 2001–2010. Retrieved March 21, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°37′32″N 105°46′56″W / 39.62556°N 105.78222°W / 39.62556; -105.78222