Hiking the American Discovery Trail

The American Discovery Trail is a little known trail that runs from Atlantic to Pacific in the United States. Few people have tried hiking the American Discovery Trail from one end to the other, but Kirk and Cindy Sinclair decided to do just that.  The trail goes through 15 states, 14 national parks, and 16 national forests, as well as several national scenic trails, historic trails, and recreational trails. The first people to walk the trail from coast to coast in a continuous walk did so in 2005, according to Wikipedia.

The Sinclair’s chose to do this trail partially because they have been hikers for a long time – one of the dates they had early in their relationship was hiking Appalachian trail, which is a much more popular hike than the American Discovery Trail.

Hiking the American Discovery Trail

Beginning point for hiking the American Discovery Trail

Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware, where some people start hiking the American Discovery Trail - Photo by Kit Conn

Even with every mode of modern transportation at their disposal, Kirk and Cindy Sinclair chose the most basic one to travel across the United States: their own two feet. They walked the 6,800 miles of the little-known American Discovery Trail— a hiking feat that deserves attention itself.

But their reasons for doing it — and what kept them going from the Pacific to the Atlantic oceans, up the Rocky Mountains and down in the mid-western plains through the almost twelve months of their extreme voyage — well, these are just as impressive as the hike itself.

But first, a little about the American Discovery Trail, or ADT, as it’s known to those intimately familiar with it (of which, I admit, I’m not). The trail leads hikers to discover America the way the earliest residents and explorers did: one step at a time. Walkers not only witness the amazing panoramas of the natural wonders of our country, but do so at a speed that is completely at odds with anything in our modern lives.

“We walked in the historic tracks of the Pony Express and Santa Fe Trails. We observed Native American cultures and the Amish. We crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis,” explained Kirk with awe at the expanse of distance and time they have crossed.

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It is hard to imagine spending months walking all those miles but for the Sinclair’s, hiking the American Discovery Trail exposed an infinite kindness in all of the people they talked to, shared food with, and who offered the shelter of their homes. What an amazing way to find out what this great country is all about – the people we never hear about, just quietly living their lives one good deed at a time.

Even if you don’t have time to take this entire journey, consider adding hiking a portion of this cross-country trail to your bucket list!

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