American Discovery Trail

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The American Discovery Trail is a system of recreational trails and roads which collectively form a coast-to-coast hiking and biking trail across the mid-tier of the United States. Horses can also be ridden on most of this trail. It starts on the Delmarva Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and ends on the northern California coast on the Pacific Ocean, and is signed on over 6,800 miles (10,900 km) of trail. This includes the doubled trail stretches. It is possible to complete the coast to coast hike by covering just over 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of trail. It is the only non-motorized coast-to-coast trail.

The trail passes through 14 national parks and 16 national forests and uses sections of or connects to five National Scenic Trails, 10 National Historic Trails, and 23 National Recreation Trails. For part of its distance, it is coincident with the North Country Trail and the Buckeye Trail. From western Ohio to northern Colorado, the trail has two parallel stretches.

The trail passes through the District of Columbia and the following 15 states:

  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • West Virginia
  • Ohio
  • Indiana
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky
  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Kansas
  • Colorado
  • Utah
  • Nevada
  • California

Hiking records

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The first hikers to walk the entire trail, Joyce and Pete Cottrell, of  Whitefield, New Hampshire, were the first to backpack the entire official route of the American Discovery Trail. They hiked the segments out of sequence over two calendar years, finishing in 2003.

The first hikers to complete the trail in one continuous walk were Marcia and Ken Powers, a wife and husband team from Pleasanton, California. Their trailwalk lasted from February 27 to October 15, 2005. They started out from Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware and ended at Point Reyes, California. They trailed 5,058 miles (8,140 km) by foot, averaging 22 miles (35 km) a day.

The first person to backpack the entire 6,800 miles (including both Northern and Southern sections) in one continuous hike was Mike “Lion King” Daniel. He started from Cape Henlopen State Park on June 17, 2007, and ended at Point Reyes, California on November 5, 2008.


  • Trail Measurement in Miles: 6800
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