A Trail You Might Not Have Heard About

Daniel Ganninger
February 19, 2023
Map of the American Discovery Trail.
The American Discovery Trail

We’ve all heard of the famous Appalachian Trail that runs from Georgia to Maine and vice versa, but there is another trail that is even longer but not quite as famous. It goes from each coast across the US, and it’s called “The American Discovery Trail.”

The American Discovery Trail (ADT) connects Delaware and California. It’s one continuous trail that is more than 6,800 miles long and consists of multi-use trails that start in Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware and cross to Point Reyes National Seashore in California. It connects with five national scenic trails, 12 national historic trails, 34 national recreational trails, as well as regional and local trails as it crosses the country. The trail passes through 14 national parks and 16 national forests as well.

At one point in Elizabethtown, Ohio, the trail splits into a northern route and a southern route. The northern route goes through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska, while the southern route goes through Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas. The trails meet back again in Denver, Colorado. The trail continues through Colorado, into Utah, Nevada, and then eventually, California. In total, the ADT crosses 15 states and the District of Columbia.

The first hikers to walk the whole trail did it out of sequence over a two-year period of time. Joyce and Pete Cottrell finished the entire route in 2003. The first hikers to cover the trail in one continuous hike were Marcia and Ken Powers from February 27 to October 15, 2005. They averaged 22 miles per day as they trekked 5,058 miles from Delaware to Point Reyes in California.

The first hiker to cover the entire 6,800 miles of trail, including both the north and south forks, was Mike Daniel. His trek took place from June 17, 2007, to November 5, 2008. I think it’s about time to get those hiking boots on.

Sources: Discovery Trail, American Trails