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News Release

For Release: Monday, July 19th

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

Kristen Hanifin, Marketing, New York State Canal System, 518-436-2799

"Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Event Continues On NY State Canal System to Lake Ontario

Kayaker paddles from Lake Champlain through various canals, eighth significant linkages in the "Great Northeast Trail", will become first person to complete 700-mile trail in one trip

A special event, the "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" Hike and Paddle continues on Saturday, September 4th from Lock 12 Marina in Whitehall, New York as kayaker begings the Champlain Canal.  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 south along the Champlain Canal of the New York State Canal System to eventually reach the Erie Canal and the Oswego Canal, expecting to reach Oswego, NY and Lake Ontario at the Oswego International Marina sometime on Monday afternoon, September 20th.  The "Atlantic to Great Lakes!" event is officially registered as a National Trails Day 2004 event with the American Hiking Society.

"15 Miles on the Erie Canal," sings Al LePage, executive director of the National Coast Trail Association.  "I think that's one of the lines of that famous old song, perhaps a good mileage for the mules and horses pulling the barges along the canal tow paths.  I'll probably be averaging that amount or a few miles more each day as I travel the canals by kayak, and what an experience it should be.  Besides the scenic beauty of natural areas, they'll be a lot of historic sites and cultural events along the way as well, that's what the state's great cruising guide suggests.  The canal system is often used by pleasure boats with motors, but I really think there's great potential already being realized along it by paddlers, too.  The New York State Canal System has also already developed many many miles of biking and hiking pathways on the old tow paths.  So, seems it's really up to you how you want to explore its length -- hiking, cycling, or paddling."

The New York State Canal Corporation, a subsidiary of the New York State Thruway Authority, is the proud steward of this great, historic 524-mile waterway, a legacy that was born more than 175 years ago. The tradition of navigation on New York's Canals continues uninterrupted, and the resurgence of development in the historic communities begins again, as it did in the mid-1800s.  Today, the New York State Canal Corporation is committed to preserving the legacy of this marvelous waterway and the towpaths that now make up a portion of the Canalway Trail, a multi-use recreational network of trails. Their website at will provide you with useful information to plan your visit to the New York State Canal System and the communities located within its Corridor.  Activities and attractions abound on the Canal System for visitors of all ages - boating at a leisurely pace along our waterways, cycling or hiking along the Canalway Trail, enjoying festivals in charming Canalside communities, or picnicking at lock-side parks.  Explore the Canal System's website and experience a great American tradition.

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.


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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