MZTA - Mile Zero Trail Association

MZTA - Mile Zero Trail Association


What You Can Do

Site Map

The Building Blocks

It started with an idea to give the nation a great addition to the trail system by connecting the Appalachian Trail with the Continental Divide Trail. And a new vision to make it serve a wide variety recreational, educational, social and aesthetic interests.

How to go about it is the puzzle. Something that is 1,600-1,800 miles long - do we survey it? Do we build it? Do we create it? Do we blaze the trail? No, we organize it! With the abundance of useful resources and many visionary people and organizations out there making things happen, we primarily need to organize the connections.

Station to Station

Like hiking a long-distance trail, the task of making one can seem daunting. But it really is a simple matter of being able to go from place to place.

Vast resources exist across the territory. The landscapes are varied and fantastic. The cultures are diverse. The history is intriguing. There's no shortage of reasons for hikers, cyclists and many other kinds of recreationists and tourists to use the trail.

Once the route is described for several forms of travel, the question will not be: how does one go from place to place? It will be: Where does one stay overnight at each place? Some locations on the trail need information, while others need ideas and attractions. And some need development. The great thing is, all the needs, advantages and possibilities that exist along the trail are exciting and bound to bring positive changes to places that deserve attention.

It was clear that development of a National Recreation Trail required certain activities of a national organization, along with specific local involvement of Chapter Organizations.

Grapevine's historic train depot is an example of travel and transportation history across the region, as well as the modern connections needed for travelers on the Link Trail. The community has preserved many historic assets and will soon be connected to Plano, Fort Worth, Denton, and most all of the DFW Metroplex by the DART Cotton Belt and the TEXrail.

Pictured at the top is Medicine Park, Oklahoma, an excellent potential trail community, recreation center and historic place on the Link Trail.

More About the

As the Link Trail was researched and planned, it became clear that the trail was not only an exciting candidate for National Recreation Trail - one that connects hikers over uplifted interior highlands and watershed lowlands between two prominent mountain ranges (and one that might one day host international or competitive cycling tours) - but it had the added benefit of being a great candidate for the first National Cultural Trail.

The Mile Zero Trail Association was founded as much to be a national cultural and educational organization, as a promoter of healthy activity, a trail-blazing social organization, and an advocate for access to parks and trails.

Whether or not the organization will focus any of its collective energy to receive a designation "National Cultural Trail" (since such designation doesn't officially exist), is not important. Making the physical and cultural connections is critical. What matters is that the group succeeds in utilizing the potential of the diverse places along the trail for all the interests and quality of life they offer. Imagine, as a modern trekker, you walk where Sherman's soldiers marched during the American Civil War and where James Meredith set out to "March Against Fear" a century later. In a bus or autonomous vehicle, a tourist will follow the route of Freedom Riders and Dust Bowl Refugees. Cyclists will cross the historic tracks of the railroads and the footpaths of the Underground Railroad, over the agricultural Cotton Belt and the range of great bison herds.

From the ancient Puebloan villages that surround Taos Pueblo (UNESCO World Heritage Sites connected by culture and trade), and the monumental sites of the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement, to the great trail towns and historic recreation communities (like Medicine Park, Oklahoma and Hot Springs, Arkansas), and the places where music and social integration milestones were made, the trail is indefinitely lined with interests and educational potential. Little Rock, Memphis, Tupelo, Muscle Shoals...

...Historic railroad crossings (Chattanooga and Huntsville), urban places on the Bankhead Highway (Dallas and Fort Worth), rural places on Route 66 (Clinton and Elk City, Oklahoma, and Shamrock, Texas), mountain passes (Raton, New Mexico and the Cherohala Skyway), volcanic lands (Capulin, New Mexico), dinosaur crossings (Clayton, New Mexico), ancient human archaeology sites, indigenous capitals, colonial capitals, pioneer trail intersections, river towns, farm co-ops, and on and on. Every place on the planned trail has value and interest. Whether for the challenge, the scenery, the adventure or the cultural interaction, the experience is exceptional and rewarding.

The mission and goal of the Mile Zero Trail Association becomes substantially different than that of most trail associations and conservancies. It calls for a different strategy in trail development and a unique plan for operation of the organization.

The strategy is to meet the station to station needs for travelers. That means looking at the frequency of lodging, information services, interesting activities and welcome centers for travelers. At the present state in planning, lodging (hotels, guest houses and camping) is available for auto tourists; it is nearly fully available for cyclists; and, needs improvement for most foot travelers. Where it may currently work for super hikers and sport walkers, or hikers that use support vehicles (that may transport them from end points to camps or hotels), a greater frequency of lodging is needed for typical backpackers, thru-hikers and casual explorers.

The fact that it will take time is actually an asset. Rather than wait around, that reality gives the Mile Zero Trail Association and the Chapter Organizations time to work toward many productive initiatives for the communities in their areas.

The organization opportunities become very exciting. It is clearly possible to form a trail linked by activities and interests. Chapter Organizations of the Trail Association will be the key. It is hoped that they will have very diverse ideas. The full trail - a virtual 1,600-1,800 mile hallway that connects exciting outdoor museum galleries - could be a "walk of fame", if volunteers want to develop it, or a "geological journey", if visitors want to explore its physiography, but communities may see very distinctive and different needs.

Since the needs of the communities and the needs of the trail are similar (visitor services, economic development, community activities, etc.), most any idea will help - community gardens, backpackers quarters, art spaces, farmers markets, lecture series, food demonstrations, social centers, patios and fire pits, preservation of historic buildings, home- and ride-sharing services (with new and unconventional approaches to these), tour organizers, etc. Collectively, Chapter Organizations may want to pursue fun ideas, a culture quest, or an "amazing race" themed tour. They will decide through meetings at periodic conferences.

Learn more about the Mission, Principles and Goals.

Explore further by reading the Welcome Message.

More information about the Link Trail

The Link Trail
Link Trail Details
Chapter Organizations
Chapter Divisions
A Cultural Trail
Trail Interests
Founder's Vision
Origins of MZTA
FAQs and More

View more photos below to consider the wide range of possibilities for activities and facilities.

Website Index

Home Page
MZTA Mission
 -The Future
What You Can Do
Member Benefits
 -Travel Information
 -Camp Information
Member Chapters
 -Chapter Divisions
Planned Programs
The Link Trail
 -Link Trail Details
Background and Significance
 -A Cultural Trail
 -Founder's Vision
Trail Interests
 -Informative Video
Key Project - NHT
Key Project - Cycling
Concept Origins
Program Timelines
FAQs and More
Social Media
Media Info
Site Index

Taos Pueblo Oven


The following subjects may be useful in considering the range of travel interests on the Link Trail and the many kinds of events, activities and centers Mile Zero Trail Association Chapter Organizations may develop.


Colonial history of Spain, France and Great Britain is a prominent feature of the regions crossed by the Link Trail, including the wide diversity of cultures and traditions that survive across the South and Southwest. The horno bread oven pictured above is influenced by North African slaves and explorers who came during the Spanish colonial period in New Mexico.

Southern Plantation

Anglo and Creole Southern plantations and Civil War battles sites are what remains of the legacy of cotton, slavery and the South. Extensive political and cultural movements and arts grew from horrific and tragic circumstances.

Food Traditions

Rich food traditions emerged from native edibles and diverse peoples throughout the South and Southwest. Pecans are an example of a food with historical and cultural significance that was originally found only in limited regions of the Americas.


Diverse arts are a hallmark of Southern and Southwest states and reflect the diverse cultural (social, political and religious) influences of the U.S. and Mexico, as well as the international origins of many people across the South and Southwest.


While the foods, musics, arts and other cultural traditions provide great attractions across the Southern United States, weather is also a prevalent feature. "Sunny" is the predominant condition and way to characterize the Sunbelt, clear blue skies and bright sunsets, but the atmosphere can turn turbulent in an instant. Many communities have a devastating tornado at some point in their history. The Alabama sky seen above is dramatic and appears menacing, but not dangerous. Conditions, however, can become threatening in certain seasons, which are a major attraction for storm chasers that are sometimes found lining highways where warm and cold fronts collide.


Grass roots art spaces are one of the great possible attractions on the Link Trail to serve local residents and visitors. Attracting artists from all over the world, the former Artery performance space and media center pictured above is an ideal example to draw from in planning a facility to present local and international folk arts, and to possibly even utilize the Link Trail for a tour route.

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