For almost 50 years, naturalists, hikers and government officials have dreamed of blazing a trail that would connect two of the country’s longer hiking routes: the Appalachian Trail, which runs along the East Coast from Georgia to Maine, and the North Country Trail, which stretches from Crown Point, N.Y., to North Dakota.
The missing link?
A roughly 40-mile stretch of prospective trail through Addison County, Vermont.
But this month, the Middlebury Area Land Trust (MALT) and the National Park Service wrapped up a feasibility study for that missing link. And with that completed study in hand, the dream is closer to becoming a reality than ever before.
Bruce Matthews, director of the North Country Trail Association, is fired up about the prospect of making the link a reality.
“This would unite the northern people of the United States,” he said. “This would provide us some cultural glue that would give us something to be proud of.”
At an information session for the North Country Trail (NCT) extension last week, board members, scientists, citizens and federal and local officials gathered at the Weybridge Elementary School auditorium to discuss the study’s findings.
The NCT runs 4,600 miles from central North Dakota to Crown Point, N.Y. The Appalachian Trail runs 2,184 miles from Spring Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. The feasibility study looked at making the link from Crown Point to the Appalachian Trail at a spot east of Rutland.
Although many specifics are still up in the air, the roughly 20 people at the Weybridge information session overwhelmingly supported a trail route that heads east from Crown Point through the town of Addison, south of Dead Creek, over Snake Mountain into Weybridge, along the Trail Around Middlebury, over to the Moosalamoo National Recreation Area in Goshen where it would connect with the Long Trail. Hikers could then head south on the Long Trail to the Appalachian Trail.
While Vermont officials and members of the Green Mountain Club openly support the trail today, this hasn’t always been the case.
Read the entire story on the Addison County Independent’s website.