For through-hikers in the United States, completing either the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail is enough to earn a lifetime of bragging rights. Soon, hardcore hikers will have the opportunity to double down and tackle both routes at once on the 12,000-mile American Perimeter Trail.
As its name suggests, the APT will loosely follow the perimeter of the continental United States, connecting part of the Appalachian Trail, which runs from Maine to Georgia, with the Pacific Crest Trail, which travels down the entire West Coast. Hiker Rue McKenrick is currently mapping the route. He came up with the idea after finding a dearth of long-distance trails to pursue upon completing the country’s Triple Crown of through-hikes: the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails. McKenrick hopes to finish scouting the APT by October, after which he intends to get the ball rolling on making the trail official, which could take years.
Once formalized, the APT will be the longest hiking route in the United States, incorporating both established paths, such as the North Country Trail that runs from New York to North Dakota, and new routes. According to Afar, McKenrick told the host of Gaia GPS’s Out and Back podcast that “the goal [of the APT] is to create a protected corridor of land and natural resources that will be available for recreational use.”
“Even if you don’t care about conservation,” McKenrick reportedly continued, “maybe you care about hiking.”