This past Fall, Sang C. of Simsbury, set a goal to hike from the MA-CT border to the New England Trail’s (NET) southern terminus on Long Island Sound. Prior to the Hike50 NET Challenge, Sang had never hiked before. Upon completion he told us that “this was the best outdoor experience of my life!”
The Hike50 NET Challenge was a way to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System. In his 1965 “Natural Beauty Message” to Congress, President Lyndon B. Johnson inspired a national “system of trails” for the American people. Congress passed the National Trails System Act and it was signed into law by President Johnson on October 2, 1968.
Today, the National Trails System includes 11 National Scenic Trails and 19 National Historic Trails. These trails provide outdoor recreation opportunities, promote resource preservation and public access, and encourage the appreciation of the great outdoors and America’s historic and cultural diversity (view a map of the entire National Trails System HERE). The New England Trail joined the National Trails family as part of the Omnibus Public Lands Bill signed into law by President Obama in 2009.
Our Hike50 NET Challenge inspired over 1,000 participants, and concluded with 340 completions. Hailing from 16 states and 4 countries, participants tackled the Challenge in a variety of ways- some hiked, others volunteered, many attended events, and others did some combination of these activities. The driving force for many was to discover a new trail section, hike a bit further than they had before, and to experience the NET in a new way. Each participant took the Challenge to heart and designed an experience that fit their lifestyle.
We were so inspired by how many folks took this opportunity to visit the trail. For many of us, the NET is so close to home, and yet when you’re out on the trail, you can feel remarkably far away and removed from the every day.
2019 is the 10th anniversary of the New England Trail. Planning is underway for a new hike challenge, as well as public work parties, events with our new Artist-in-Residence, and opportunities to learn more about the NET and its legacy. Stay tuned!
Here are some of our favorite stories and personal reflections from the Challenge!