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

Ben Rose, Executive Director, Green Mountain Club, 802-244-7037, ext. 12

"Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Event Continues On the Long Trail in the Green Moutains
Hiker
turns north along Vermont's premier north-south long-distance trail, fifth important link of "Great Northeast Trail," to travel along the spine of the state's Green Mountains

A special event, the "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Hike and Paddle continues on Friday, August 20th from Gifford Woods State Park in Vermont to connect with the Long Trail and head north. 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 north along a section of the Long Trail in Vermont, the fifth significant link in his journey that will evenutually take him to the Winooski River where he will then head west on the Cross Vermont Trail.  The "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" event is officially registered as a National Trails Day 2004 event with the American Hiking Society.

"Vermont, from the French for 'Green Mountain,'" notes Al LePage, executive director of the National Coast Trail Association.  "Long Trail, from the many volunteers working for the Green Mountain Club.  That's a pretty good analogy I'd say, and, I'd like to add, the Green Mountain Club continues in its leadership role not only to maintain but also to protect the trail.  And they're apparently doing more than just protecting the trail, they're really helping to establish a north-south greenway the entire length of the state.  Indeed, this is serious and important work to do for any trail, for what good would the Long Trail be without the surrounding hills and pastures and forests?  I must applaud the Club and its many volunteers for all their hard work, past, present and future."

In 1910 the Green Mountain Club began building the Long Trail, with the mission "to make the mountains of Vermont play a larger part in the life of the people."  Although the Green Mountain Club's mission remains the same philosophically as when the club was founded, its responsibilities have grown.  In the twenty-first century it faces the escalating pressures of encroaching development and damage to resources from overuse.  Providing hiking opportunities now involves more than building and maintaining trails.  Today, the Green Mountain Club and its over 9,000 members are involved in protecting and managing the trails and facilities of the Long Trail system in coordiation with the State of Vermont, the Green Mountain National Forest, and the Appalachian Trail Conference.  The Long trail is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States, the final link completed all the way to Canada in 1930.  Learn more about how you can help by visiting the Green Mountain Club's website at www.greenmountainclub.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.
 

 

PHOTOS AVAILABLE UNDER PHOTOS SECTION OF THIS EVENT

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