Paths to the past: National Historic Trails lead travelers through time, US history

One of the best ways to learn history is to literally follow in the footsteps of those who were there, says Karen Berger, author of the new book, “America’s National Historic Trails.”

“These are historic routes – a trail version of the National Park system,” she says. The 19 federally recognized trails range from 54 to 5,000 miles, and pass largely through rural areas, making them perfect for road trips and socially distant traveling.

A good example is the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. Although the shortest trail at just 54 miles, this route resonates with many travelers, retracing 1965’s famous five-day voting rights march to the Alabama state capitol. The trail crosses the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where the late Rep. John Lewis and others were beaten by police. Mostly following U.S. Highway 80, the route lets travelers delve into civil rights history at visitors centers, museums and memorials.

Another is the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail, right here in North Carolina. During the latter half of the Revolutionary War, the British found themselves outmaneuvered and outsmarted by southern mountain men, who won 1780’s decisive Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina. The trail traces the route of the American fighters, known as the Overmountain Men.

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