The Great Eastern Trail Association, working with American Hiking Society and local trail partners are creating America’s newest long distance hiking trail. This path is 1800 miles long and crosses nine states. The Great Eastern Trail (GET) provides a premier hiking experience on a series of existing trails that are being linked to each other into a long-distance footpath in the Appalachian Mountains stretching from Alabama to the Finger Lakes Trail in New York.
Benton MacKaye’s original vision for an Appalachian Trail in the 1920’s showed a network of “braided” trails running the length of the Appalachian Mountains. In 2000 Lloyd MacAskill of PATC published an article in the Appalachian Trailway News calling attention to the existing trails to the west of the AT and saying “Don’t look now, but parts are already in place.”
The work on this trail is being perfomed by volunteer effort. The organizational scheme will involve existing volunteer trail clubs, augmented where necessary by new volunteer groups.
Volunteers will work closely with governmental entities, but the emphasis will be on volunteerism. Our model will be the original Appalachian Trail, which was initially constructed almost entirely by volunteer effort. Click Volunteer Opportunities to your left to see how YOU can help!
GET will be primarily a hiking trail and its support comes from hiking trail clubs. There are parts of existing trails where local public land managers welcome non-motorized riding activities. There will be no attempt to change the nature of those trails or the user groups. Thus parts of the trail will also be open to equestrians and mountain bikes. The Trail will be non-motorized throughout. No motorized segments will be incorporated, but road shoulders or dirt jeep/ATV trails may be used as a temporary expedient in places where no hiking trails exist.The objective is to avoid roads entirely.
The initial mission of the project is to establish an organizational structure that will encompass the entire length of the trail, including all organizations involved, and begin building capacity for new trails in those areas where there are gaps. In August of 2007 the trail groups involved in the effort incorporated as the Great Eastern Trail Association and held an organizational meeting in Virginia in November of 2007.
You can read more about the GET Board Members here.