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Contact: Scott Teodorski, (606) 248-2817
A stormy morning marked the joining of two long distance trails to form the first linkage of the future Great Eastern Trail. Regardless of the damp weather, the spirits were high as supporters from seven states were present to celebrate this hallmark event.
The event realizes a dream envisioned over 10 years ago by Shad Baker, former President of the Pine Mountain Trail Conference, to connect Kentucky’s newly formed Pine Mountain Trail State Park to its Tennessee sister trail, the Cumberland Trail State Park.
The event took place as part of the Southeastern Foot Trail Coalition’s (SEFTC) biannual conference held May 8th – 10th, 2009 at Kentucky’s Pine Mountain State Park. The SEFTC seeks to promote and protect long distance foot trails of the Southeast and to connect trails and their natural trail corridors by building a regional trail system and an active network of hiking organizations.
The Pine Mountain Trail State Park is a foot trail that traverses the ridge of Pine Mountain from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park to Breaks Interstate Park. To date, 72 miles of trail out of the proposed 110 miles are now complete. Pine Mountain Trail State Park staff continues to work with private landowners in completing the trail and extends thanks to all landowners in helping to make this trail a reality.
The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail continues from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park along the Cumberland Mountain and escarpment to Chattanooga, TN. Today 170 miles of trail are complete of the total 300 miles envisioned by Cumberland Trail State Park Manager Bobby Fulcher.
The Great Eastern Trail, or G.E.T. as some call it, is a project of the Great Eastern Trail Association, working with the American Hiking Society and local trail partners to create America’s newest long distance trail for hikers from Alabama to New York.
Mark Woods, Superintendent of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, applauded the work of community and trail leaders who have helped make Cumberland Gap a regional epicenter for trails that not only connect to adjacent communities, but now throughout the region via the Cumberland and Pine Mountain Trails.
The National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance (RTCA) Program worked with both the Pine Mountain Trail Conference and the Cumberland Trail Conference between 2000 and 2005 to help bring these group’s visions into reality.
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