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Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Contents -

US Na­tional Trails On the 50th an­niver­sary of the US Na­tional Trails net­work, we salute its wild hikes

So, why are we talk­ing trails?

It’s been 50 years since the USA’S Na­tional Trails Sys­tem was cre­ated, a long-held dream by then-pres­i­dent Lyn­don John­son to help pro­tect the coun­try’s best-loved wild spa­ces.

Sounds like a man af­ter our own heart. How’d it come about?

While the Na­tional Trails Sys­tem act was es­tab­lished in 1968, it was an im­pas­sioned speech Pres­i­dent John­son gave to Congress in 1965 that got the wheels in mo­tion. There, he first shared his dream for paths link­ing the al­ready pro­tected na­tional parks. Three years later, his dream was re­alised.

He ac­tu­ally talked the talk and walked the walk…

He did. Now, 1,000 trails with a com­bined length of over 80,000km ex­ist across the USA. It’s cer­tainly an im­pres­sive legacy.

Ab­so­lutely. Where do we start?

Where it all be­gan. Along with the his­toric 1968 act, two in­au­gu­ral na­tional trails were spawned: the Ap­palachian Trail and the Pa­cific Crest Trail. They’ve ar­guably also the coun­try’s most iconic (thanks to Ch­eryl Strayed’s Wild and Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods books), and while they’re both epic long-dis­tance routes, it’s easy to ex­pe­ri­ence snatches of ei­ther, whether by ex­plor­ing sec­tions as part of a road trip or by do­ing day walks. Take your pick from some wild set­tings: the Pa­cific Crest Trail slices through desert, rugged Sierra Ne­vada and lush woods, while the Ap­palachian Trail winds along rock for­ma­tions and richly forested swathes.

How else can we mark the oc­ca­sion?

Well… it’s not just those two. The Na­tional Parks Ser­vice web­site ( has a full list of trails. Also head to for all the events cel­e­brat­ing the an­niver­sary – ev­ery­thing from walk­ing chal­lenges to art in­stal­la­tions are be­ing held along the trails. It also has in­for­ma­tion about events for the Na­tional Wild and Scenic Rivers Sys­tem (a wa­ter­bound equiv­a­lent to the hik­ing trails), which also com­mem­o­rates 50 years in 2018.

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