Talking about projects like the CDT, Mountains-to-Sea Trail, etc, that are new but have community/state backing?

I was exploring the other day on my offline maps app and realized you could build a trail to fairly closely follow the course of the New River (3rd oldest river in the world) from its start in Boone (a Carolina mountain town with a college and many outdoorsy folk) and take it through to the New River Gorge, passing through Blacksburg and a whole lot of rural NC, VA, and WV. Total length is ~400-450km (250-280mi).

Is the main issue access to property? Manpower in establishing the trail itself? Community buy-in? What does it take to really get these projects going? If someone was really dedicated, how would they go about making something like this happen?

There is a small section of this trail that already exists, it's called the "New River Trail," and goes for 57mi (93km) or so in Virginia.

Here's a rough map of the waypoints; purple is trail and green is potential resupply: https://www.dropbox.com/s/vnorfy36jqn9tw6/New%20River%20Trail.zip?dl=0

  • You've already touched on some of the main issues in your question. I think the key problem is the magnitude of some of those issues. Permissions to access the property alone can be a huge undertaking. And even if it is all public land that is still a complicated permission process.
    – noah
    Commented Nov 5, 2021 at 22:11

1 Answer 1


I would contact the Appalachian Trail Conservancy or The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association and inquire about the best way to go about this. Many long distances trails were established long before there were complicated laws and greedy land owners. The ATC currently gets around this by either paying private property owners an annual access fee or, where they can't, there are road walks. Most towns would love to have trails re-routed nearby because it brings in revenue from hikers looking to re-supply, stay in hostels, hotels or motels. Restaurants and shuttle drivers can also make money this way. You will also need trail maintenance clubs every fifty or hundred miles. Bridges may need to be built, puncheon walkways through sensitive areas installed, the trail will have to be mapped and marked with blazes. In constructing the trail, safety and water runoff will have to be considered.

I would suggest contacting the assemblymen, senators, town supervisors and mayors of every jurisdiction and make a pitch. It might behoove you to gather the signatures of businesses and residents who live adjacent to the proposed trail. That is a lot of work.

It might be of interest to visit trail towns such as Damascus, VA, Monson, ME, Manchester and Rutland, VT or any of the Gap towns along the AT. Many people take advantage of the trail by opening hostels and even churches have been saved from the brink of closure by embracing a hiker ministry. Find out if there is interested from the people who could benefit.

If you do contact any of the aforementioned entities, unless you've already done your homework, be prepared for the project to be stolen from beneath your feet and your vision will be lost or altered to the benefit of others.

Because of land changing hands or the ATC taking bribes, the AT changes every year.

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