Preserving the Epic Trails for the Next Generation

As lovers of everything outdoors, the Trail Sherpa family is looking for ways to have an impact on preserving the epic trails for future generations.  Our upcoming launch of the Trail Sherpa Store is one example.  A portion of all proceeds will go to organizations that support the preservation of America’s wild spaces and epic trails and who hold the same values that we do for experiences in nature.  The following is an introduction to some organizations that we believe do just that.  It is our experience and research that has spawned this post and we wanted to share some of our opinions with you.

The Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA)


Did you know that the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail, the King of Trails, is only 70% usable?  That’s no small task in creating, certainly, but did you know you could take part in the creation and rebuilding of the remaining 30% of this historical trail?  The CDTA needs able-bodied volunteers to scout for missing trail links, to build bridges and kiosks, to plant signs, and to build new trail. You need no previous trail building experience.  Their Family Volunteer Adventures Program has scheduled opportunities for families to connect with the trail and to each other as they preserve this epic trail for future generations.  In its completion, the Continental Divide Trail will travel 3100 miles down the backbone of this country from Canada to Mexico.

 

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC)

The ATC works to preserve the Appalachian Trail, the 2,181 mile footpath that travels from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia.  They are a well-established conservancy to whom the National Parks Service has delegated responsibility for the coordination of management and preservation of the AT.  Though this trail is as susceptible as any to maintenance issues, of concern to the ATC is the effect of poorly planned urban development, communication and highway easements, and power lines.  They ask then that volunteers be involved not only in trail maintenance, but in letter-writing campaigns to preserve the purity of the Appalachian Trail.

 

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCTA)


The Pacific Crest Trail has been described as “easily accessible and blissfully wild at the same time.”  It runs 2,650 miles from Canada—meandering from British Columbia through Oregon, Washington, and California—to Mexico.  But because it has never received the kind of national funding that its sister trail, the Appalachian Trail, has received, the PCT doesn’t have a protective corridor, instead tracing its way through areas of privately owned land.  It is constantly threatened by on-the-trail timber harvesting, but its new threat is similar to the AT’s: urban encroachment.  Trail markers share space with “for sale” signs and six lane highways intersect.  The PCTA works to protect the existing green-space that buffers the PCT while working equally as hard at acquiring the land that will conserve this western gem for our next generation of hikers.

 

Here’s what you can do:

Each of these organizations would benefit greatly from your political, financial, or physical involvement.  Each group’s website provides an easy way to get involved by listing their volunteer schedules or by guiding you through the donation process.  Become a member and learn the history of these trail conservation groups as they provide a cohesive storyline for our country’s epic trails through maps, online journals, and trail hike suggestions.

Happy trails!

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  • These epic trails are national treasures and I’m glad you brought attention to them. There are sections of the Pacific Crest Trail where the easement is currently only eight feet! Imagine what hiking through developed land would do to that experience.

    Keep up the good fight!

    • I’m with you Jeff! Our direction for Trail Sherpa for 2011 is to focus more on what really matters in addition to sharing our experiences and trail reports. Your journey last year on the JMT is actually one of the bigger catalysts for this new direction. We just want to make sure our grand kids will have a chance to see the things we have over the years. As you know, many of the epic trails are short on funds and good guidance. We’re hoping to have an impact on that. Thanks for the feedback Jeff.