The New American Perimeter Trail Will Be the Longest Hiking Route in the U.S.

In June 2019, hiker Rue McKenrick left his home in Bend, Oregon, and headed into the Three Sisters Wilderness to then walk south along the Pacific Crest Trail. When he hit the end of the Sierras, he turned east, walking across the Mojave Desert in California through Death Valley.

He’s kept walking and, in the last year, has averaged 20 to 30 miles a day, notching more than 8,000 miles total. But McKenrick isn’t on a casual cross-country hike: He’s scouting and mapping the American Perimeter Trail, informally considered the newest and longest hiking route in the country. Conveniently, he also created it.

McKenrick got the idea for the trail a decade ago, after through-hiking the “Triple Crown” of the Appalachian (2,190 miles), Pacific Crest (2,650 miles), and Continental Divide (3,100 miles) Trails. When he couldn’t find any other similar long trails to hike, he sketched out one that connected the Pacific Crest Trail to the Appalachian Trail via the states in between, and the 12,000-mile American Perimeter Trail was born.

Roughly drawn out, the trail circumnavigates the perimeter of the continental United States, but McKenrick is walking both new and existing trails, including parts of the North Country Trail, which runs 4,600 miles from North Dakota to New York; he’s also walking completely undefined areas, where a map, compass, and GPS are required.

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