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Begins: May 18, 2021
Date: Wed, Jun 9th, 2021
Start: San Diego
End: San Diego
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 431.0
Entry Visits: 420
Journal Visits: 1,258
Guestbook Views: 19
Guestbook Entrys: 1
National Scenic Trails Complete
Here's a post I made to Facebook:
Day 21, Potomac Heritage Trail done. And with that I've completed all 11 of the National Scenic Trails. This makes me the 4th person to have done that behind legends Bart Smith, Nimblewill Nomad and Al Learned.
This wasn't something I had really ever planned. I guess it just started back with my first thru-hike in 2002 and is the culmination of just walking year after year. Not every mile is amazing on the NSTs, but it was really an incredible journey overall and one I'm happy I could complete. People frequently ask me why I hike. It's really a difficult question to answer. But ultimately I just feel like my best self out here. It really just comes down to that. I'm happiest on the trail.
Here's a few stats:
Number of trails: 11
Number of miles: About 18,000
Number of steps: 40 million
Number of days on trail: 953 (2.6 years)
Number of years to complete: 19 (12 if you start counting from my 2nd AT/PCT/CDT hikes)
Number of days it would have taken if I hiked non-stop for 24 hours a day: 272
Total number of trails hiked (NSTs and everything else I've hiked over the years): 32
Total number of miles hiked: 40,712
Percent worked since graduating college in 1997: 59% (this was surprisingly high to me, but it's heavily loaded from 22-34 years old)
Percent worked since 2009: 35%
And lastly here is my official ranking of all 11 National Scenic Trails!
#1) Pacific Crest Trail (2004 and again 2009): The PCT has a major crowd problem now, but back in 2004 it was sublime. 99.9% singletrack trail from Mexico to Canada, simply amazing. I still have such vivid memories from this hike.
2) Continental Divide Trail (2005 and again 2015): The CDT in 2005 was such an adventure. I really enjoyed my hike again in 2015 too.
3) Arizona Trail (2009): For an 800 mile trail I'd say the AZT is the most beautiful and diverse short trail of the NSTs. I was blown away with it in 2009. This was also a big transition for me. Lisa and I had just split up and I truly didn't know if I had the skills to hike the AZT back then. There was very little info and the guidebook was like 10 years old. This is the trail that vaulted me into everything else that came after.
4) Appalachian Trail (2002 and 1.5 more times over various years): This was my first ever thru-hike having only camped 3 nights before in my life. Obviously this hike changed my life. It's a bit of a green tunnel but there is still a lot to love about the AT.
5) Pacific Northwest Trail (2012): This was truly a hiking adventure back in 2012, another one where there was limited info compared to today. I had so many memorable and crazy experiences on this hike.
6) North Country Trail (2018 and 2020): This 4,700 mile beast is only about 2/3 complete. The 3,000+ miles that are trail are pretty good hiking, a cool journey through some country I wouldn't have normally hiked. Like North Dakota, Minnesota and the Michigan UP were really awesome. The 1,500 miles that are not done, well that's not as much fun. Maybe Ohio can just be removed and everyone I know who has hiked it would be happy.
7) Florida Trail (2021): The 2/3 of the FLT that is done is really awesome, so unique. The 1/3 that isn't done is a nightmare of being chased by pitbulls along busy roads.
8) Potomac Heritage Trail (2021): This was a surprisingly pleasant trail. It's not a wilderness trail but the connection of the Laurel Highlands Trail, Great Allegheny Passage, C&O Canal towpath and various trails through the DC area was really quite pleasant. They should just end it in DC and delete the 80 mile road walk down to the Chesapeake.
9) Ice Age Trail (2018): The 50% that is done of this all Wisconsin Trail is really pretty cool through another state I wouldn't have normally hiked. The other half is a lot of road walking, usually quiet but there is a long way to go for this trail to actually be really enjoyable hiking in my opinion.
10) New England Trail (2018): This lower and more urbanized version of the AT was just ok in my opinion. There's nothing wrong with it, but at about 230 miles it's hard to see why this became a NST with its much better neighbor (AT) just to the east.
11) Natchez Trace Trail (2020): This 400 mile road walk of the Natchez Trace Parkway with 60 miles of mostly unmaintained or abandoned trail is an embarrassment to the National Trail system. It's the only one I wouldn't have hiked except I wanted to finish all 11 NSTs. This should be a National Historic Trail which are typically historic routes following roads.
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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