NATIONAL COAST TRAIL ASSOCIATION

5124 N.E. 34th Avenue - Portland, OR - 97211 / 503-335-3876 / www.coasttrails.org

News Release

For Release: Monday, July 19th

Media Contacts: Al LePage, Executive Director, National Coast Trail Association - 503-335-3876

Eric Scharnberg, Cross Vermont Trail Coordinator, 802- 498-0079

"Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Event Continues On the Cross Vermont Trail to Burlington
Hiker
turns west along Vermont's part dream, part reality east-west long-distance trail, sixth important link of "Great Northeast Trail," to eventually arrive at the Ethan Allen Homestead

A special event, the "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Hike and Paddle continues on Friday, August 27th from the Jonesville Bridge in Vermont to connect with the Cross Vermont Trail and head west. Al LePage of Portland, Oregon plans to first hike some 400 miles and then paddle another 300 miles to eventually reach Oswego, New York and Lake Ontario by mid-September. He will be traveling along the "Great Northeast Trail" (GNET) - an envisioned trail system connecting proposed and existing land and water-based trails across New England, literally stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The event's focus is to promote and publicize this unique trail concept, and work cooperatively with trail organizations, government agencies, and others for public awareness about the many trails and connections that make it possible. The event is a personal journey, and although it is not a guided hike or paddle for the general public, LePage will be giving some presentations for the public during his trip. He is founder and executive director of the National Coast Trail Association, and continues his way west along a section of the Cross Vermont Trail, the sixth significant link in his journey that will evenutually take him to the Winooski River where he will begin the paddle portion of his trip out into Lake Champlain.  The "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" event is officially registered as a National Trails Day 2004 event with the American Hiking Society.

"These Vermonters are coming and going from every direction," says Al LePage, executive director of the National Coast Trail Association.  "They've got their north-south Long Trail, and now their working on an east-west Cross Vermont Trail, too!  Looks like a good stretch of what I'll be doing as I approach Burlington is what you'd call an urban trail system.  Some people think real trails can only be out in nature -- in the woods, along rivers and lakes, or up in the mountains.  Although I can appreciate this view, not only is it limiting in terms of potential trail development, but also could limit the number of people who can actually get out to more remote areas.  Indeed, literally having trails close to home, essentially out your back door, provides quick and easy access for the greater population to walking and cycling, to natural areas and historic sites and cultural events as well.  And, that's the beauty of the Cross Vermont Trail, one can potentially cycle out their driveway or walk out thier front door, and create their own adventure, wheter it be a short walk, a day hike or ride, or even the urge to walk or cycle across the entire state!  It's about access, it's about recreation, it's about quality of life."

The purpose of the Cross Vermont Trail Association, Inc. is to assist municipalities, recreation groups, and landowners in the creation and management of a four-season, multi-use trail across the state of Vermont for public recreation, alternative transportation, and awareness of our natural and cultural heritage. The trail will run from Vermont's western border on Lake Champlain to its eastern border in the Village of Wells River on the Connecticut River.  Connect with the association by visiting their website at www.crossvermont.org.

The "Great Northest Trail" ("GNET") is envisioned as a continuous recreational 400-mile hiking and 300-mile paddling trail from the Atlantic to the shores of Lake Ontario through Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York. Significant portions of this trail concept already exist, other major sections are already proposed or being established, and only a few minor linkages needed to be developed to make it complete. The trail would begin in Portland, Maine traveling the existing urban trail system there and extended along the proposed Mountain Division Trail to Fryeburg, Maine. It would then connect into New Hampshire and continue north on the existing trails of the White Mountain National Forest to connect with the Appalachian Trail around Carter Notch and continue across the state to reach the border at Hanover, New Hampshire into Vermont. Where the Appalachian Trail meets the Long Trail near Killington, Vermont, the route proceeds north until reaching the Winooski River, and then follows the proposed path of the Cross-Vermont Trail into Burlington, hiking north along the shore of Lake Champlain to eventually reach the historic homestead of Ethan Allen. The nearby public boat launch begins the paddling segment of the trail, first where the Winooski River enters the lake, next along the Lake Champlain Paddlers' Trail south to access the Champlain Canal, then the Erie Canal, and finally the Oswego Canal into Lake Ontario.

LePage is apparently the first person to ever attempt, in one continuous trip, the envisioned 700-mile Great Northeast Trail. He's also apparently the first person ever to have hiked America's entire 1800-mile West Coast Trail (not to be confused with the Pacific Crest Trail or Canada's 45-mile West Coast Trail), doing so on three separate occasions. In 1988 he hiked the 400-mile Oregon Coast Trail in about 1 month, in 1992 the 200-mile Washington Coast Trail section, and in 1996 he tackled the 1,200-mile length of the California Coastal Trail in 3 and a half months. If he completes the Great Northeast Trail as planned, he will have completed a total of about 2,500 miles of the overall 10,000-mile National Coast Trail vision. LePage, age 50, was born about twenty miles east of Boston in Framingham, Massachusetts, and grew up and lived in the area until he headed west as a young man to reside in the Pacific Northwest, his primary residence being Portland, Oregon.

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The National Coast Trail Association, founded in 1994, is a non-profit trail organization whose vision is the National Coast Trail, a 10,000-mile plus interconnected land and water-based trail system around the entire United States. Our mission is "Keeping the Coast for Everyone" through advocacy, education, and action for trails, public access and coastal preservation. Our program includes trail development, education, and conservation. Our focus is the development of the West Coast Trail, comprised of the Washington, Oregon and California Coastal Trails. The "Atlantic to the Great Lakes!" event is a project to promote and publicize the Great Northeast Trail, field research and photograph it, and initiate cooperative relationships with trail organizations, government agencies, and others to develop and maintain relevant trail segments.
 

 

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