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Begins: May 18, 2021
Date: Mon, May 10th, 2021
Start: San Diego
End: San Diego
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The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
The Potomac Heritage Trail, a trail almost no one thru-hikes even though it’s a National Scenic Trail. Personally, I’m hiking it as it’s my 11th of the 11 National Scenic Trails. When I finish it, it will make me the 4th person to finish all 11 NSTs (behind Bart Smith, Nimblewill Nomad and Al Learned).
I basically have no idea the history of the PHT even though I’ve tried to read up on it. There’s just almost nothing out there. There used to be a guide but it’s 15 years old and out of print. I wish I could get my hands on it just to read the background on the creation of the PHT as I’m interested. It became an NST in 1983 and is one of these “network” of trails trail where there are all these random sections of trail that go off in one-way directions off the main PHT and then just randomly end somewhere. But to thru-hike the PHT I basically just need to hike a point to point main line PHT which is mostly straightforward except for the southern part. The PHT from north to south is comprised of: (1) Laurel Highlands Trail for 70 miles, (2) Great Allegheny Passage rail trail for 75 miles, (3) C&O Canal Towpath at around 140 miles, (4) a network of trails on the west side of the Potomac along the DC area for about 75 miles, and (5) a long paved roadwalk down a peninsula on either the west or east side of the Potomac. This should total about 425 miles or so.
The only real choices here are (a) Heading south on the C&O, I plan to cross over the Potomac to the west side and walk the network of trails along DC for 75 miles. The C&O continues down the east side of the Potomac, but I want to give these trails on the west side a shot. They will be more eclectic than the straight ole C&O and the Potomac Heritage Trail Association works on these trails, and more specifically I messaged with Bill of the PHTA a while back about this network of trails and I see that every year he gets work parties out there to maintain these sections so I want to do his hard work justice and hike these trails. The other choice is (b) whether to roadwalk down the west side to Smith Point on the Chesapeake or roadwalk down the east side to Point Lookout. I can’t remember why I chose the east side to Point Lookout but that’s what I’ve chosen. Both routes are basically pointless for a thru-hiker as they are 100% paved road and generally follow a chosen bicycle route on roads (not bicycle path or anything decent). I have no idea why the PHT continues past DC on this long paved roadwalk other than to finish at a cool point on the Chesapeak, but that’s what it does so I guess that’s where I’m walking.
I don’t think I really have much more to write about. I don’t plan to do a daily entry as I think the walk will be fairly mundane. I mean, I do think it will be pleasant but generally it’s a lot of straight, flat rail/canal walking and I doubt I’ll have a lot to say. Camping promises to be a bit of a pain, I don’t like noise at night and the PHT is not the best place to for a quiet nights sleep.
Anyway, I’ll be back with a finish entry about 3 weeks after I start.
Potomac Heritage Trail
The Potomac Heritage Trail, also known as the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail or the PHT, is a designated National Scenic Trail corridor spanning parts of the mid-Atlantic and upper southeastern regions of the United States that will connect various trails and historic sites in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. The trail network includes 710 miles (1,140 km) of existing and planned sections, tracing the outstanding natural, historical, and cultural features of the Potomac River corridor, the upper Ohio River watershed in Pennsylvania and western Maryland, and a portion of the Rappahannock River watershed in Virginia. Learn more: www.nps.gov/pohe
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