Great Eastern Trail

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Great Eastern Trail
Length 1600 mi (2575 km)
Trailheads Florida Trail
North Country Trail
Use Hiking
Hiking details
Trail difficulty Moderate to Strenuous
Season Year-round

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. From south to north, it runs from the Florida-Georgia border through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, ending in western New York state.[1]

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.

In between, it would connect with and briefly overlap two other National Scenic Trails: the Appalachian and the Potomac Heritage Trails.[2]

The project enjoyed support from the American Hiking Society and the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program[3] 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.[4]

Many sections of Great Eastern Trail are already hikeable for day use and backpackers.[5] 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 to complete a thru-hike of the Great Eastern Trail.[6]

Trails in system[edit]

Route from south to north with gaps, according to the Great Eastern Trail Concept Plan:[7]


External links[edit]