National Trails System Map (View larger maps below)
At the top of the page, a section of the map focuses on the Southcentral United States, including Texas and Oklahoma. The region has relatively few trail, especially when compared to other regions of the United States. North Texas has the "rails-to-trails" project, Northeast Texas Trail, and part of the Ouachita National Recreation Trail runs through Southeastern Oklahoma. Two of the many possibilities for the Link Trail to serve this vital region include: to connect the population [15 million] of Dallas-Fort Worth (and effectively Houston and Oklahoma City by train connections) to the mountains and uplifts of southern Oklahoma; and, to connect the Appalachian Trail with the Continental Divide for hikers, cyclists and adventure travelers, incluing tourists, as well as casual rectreationists among a massive population [36 million] on and near the trail corridor.
The Ouachita National Recreation Trail is an integral part of the development of the Link Trail, to connect the Appalachian Trail and Continental Divide Trail over exciting terrain, and the Northeast Texas Trail is an important consideration that makes it possible to establish direct access for all of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to Little Rock, Arkansas, and all points on the Link Trail. The Ouachita National Recreation Trail and others, like the Arkansas River Trail and Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail are critical in thinking about the Link Trail and the future of the network of trails for many users. They provide multi-modal access with parallel auto tour routes, like the Talimena Scenic Byway. Many hiking trail sections are planned for simultaneous utilization by mountain bikes, touring bikes, horse trail riders, and hopefully, greater wheelchair access in the future.
Those obvious capabilities and considerations in future planning for the Link Trail are not the only special and unique features. The Link Trail provides the obvious opportunities for thru-hikers and sport walkers, casual and competitive cyclists, bus tourists and auto sightseers, but also possibilities for the kind of travel that may be utilized in the future - bike and car ridesharing, autonomous vehicle services and connectivity for remote workers.
And being densely laden with historic and cultural resources, the Link Trail also provides opportunities for the Mile Zero Trail Association (MZTA) to promote tourism, education, economic development and youth programs for dozens of communities along a dynamic corridor across the nation.
The Link Trail crosses the terrain shown below, generally along the 35° N parallel (found horizontally across the center of the NASA-JPL image below). The broad features include (left to right) the Rocky Mountains, High Plains (with visible Canadian River valley), Low Plains/basins (Lake Texoma and Arbuckle Uplift are visible), Interior Highlands (Ouachita Mountains are visible, including Lake Ouachita, below the Ozark Plateau), Mississippi Delta, Appalachian Foothills (with Tennessee River Valley and Wheeler Lake are visible) and Eastern Highlands (Appalachian Mountains).
View planning details about the Link Trail.
The Link Trail traverses a phenomenal geological cross section of the United States.
The Link Trail is very unique among trails, which often feature a general terrain, even with elevation changes and changing ecosystems (often a mountain range or canyon), or a single mode of transit (like train, auto or hiking), or historic subject (usually a historic event), or another unified theme.
National Trails Map - Western United States
For those who travel it, the Link Trail is an amazing outdoor museum gallery of physiographic features and landscapes, including the Mississippi Delta, High Plains, canyons and basins, plateaus and volcanoes, and the distinct mountain ranges that bookend it.
It is the kind of trail for which there isn't a designation - a national cultural trail. Across the Southwestern, Southcentral and Southeastern United States, the Link Trail is a cross section of diverse cultures and histories, and intersects with numerous historic trails and highways, and world-shaping event. It is a panorama of culture - food, agriculture, music, social life, industries, occupations, arts, architecture, languages, religions, media, sports, and so much more. The Link Trail is ideal for historians, culture and music lovers, literature enthusiasts, students of art and architecture, photographers, naturalists and geologists, while also serving the athletic challenge seekers - cyclists and sport walkers.
And because the trail offers so many diverse opportunities and is open to various modes of travel, the planning organization, Mile Zero Trail Association (MZTA), is able to draw from the missions and functions of many diverse trail associations and conservancies, which have more than 100 years of guidance and experience in development of trails and highway routes. The goal of its key project, the Link Trail, is to develop a highly useful trail for recreation purposes (including hikers, cyclists and wheelchair riders), while also producing a multi-modal route that serves the organization's goal to promote access to parks and trails.
There are a great many trail associations and conservancies to draw inspiration and planning from, but a few to consider for their diverse missions include: the Wonderland Trail Association, National Park-to-Park Highway Association, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Ozark Trails Association, Natchez Trace Parkway Association, Trail of Tears Association, Pacific Crest Trail Association, Continental Divide Trail Coalition, National Old Trails Road Association, American Automobile Association, the Good Roads Movement, and many more. There are many modern associations that are part of the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS).
Larger maps of the National Trail System are provided below.
In the Southwestern United States, the Link Trail provides options for connection with the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. It crosses the Old Spanish Trail and Santa Fe National Historic Trails and provides access to the historic El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail. It also accesses the Pilgrimage to Chimayo and many other historic events and trails.
National Trails Map - Eastern United States
In the Southeastern United States, the Link Trail provides at least two options for connection with the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. It interacts with the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail and crosses, even utilizes a section of, the historic Natchez Trace. It connects with many other scenic, historic and recreation trails in the region.
In addition to the historic trails and scenic recreation trails, MZTA is interested in the history of highways and industrial trails, freedom trails and migration routes, along with pilgrimages, like the Pilgrimage to Chimayo. Because the Link Trail crosses regions that are rich in natural history, the migration routes of animals and many other phenomena of the natural world, like the Monarch butterfly, are also of interest.
A short sampling of various diverse, interesting and important trails, routes and transitways follows:
-Appalachian National Scenic Trail
-Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
-Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
-Ouachita National Recreation Trail
-Pinhoti National Recreation Trail
-The High Line (NYC)
-Bright Angel Trail
-North Country National Scenic Trail
-Arizona National Scenic Trail
-Heart of Rocks Trail
-Great Divide Mountain Bike Route
-East Coast Greenway
-Benton MacKaye Trail
-Iditarod National Historic Trail
-Rogue National Wild and Scenic River
-Buffalo National River
-Carlbad Caverns Natural Entrance/Big Room Trail
-Katy Trail (Missouri Rail Trail)
-National Park-to-Park Highway
-U.S. Route 66
-National Old Trails Road
-Ozark Trails (Highway)
-Million Dollar Highway
-Old Spanish Trail (Highway)
-Yellowstone Trail (Highway)
-U.S. Route 61 (Blues Highway)
-Talimena Scenic Byway
-Utah Scenic Byway 12
-Pacific Coast Highway
-Blue Ridge Parkway
-Texas FM 170 (River Road)
-NC Highway 143 (Cherohala Skyway)
-Arizona State Route 89A
-U.S. Route 1 (Overseas Highway)
-Zion-Mount Carmel Highway
-El Camino Real
-Route of Cabeza de Vaca
-Santa Fe National Historic Trail
-Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
-Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
-Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
-St. Louis-San Francisco "Frisco" Railway
-Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
-Tremont Street Subway
-Butterfield Overland Mail Route
-Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail
-Turquoise Trail National Scenic Byway
The above list is merely a short set of examples. Many of them are (or were) planned, organized, promoted and maintained by trail associations and conservancies. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of interesting and important historic trails and byways in the United States. Their uses cover most every economic, social, religious, relaxation, aesthetic and recreational need. And the subject of travel, trade, exploration, procession (marches, parades and pilgrimages) in world history only enhances the level of interest and importance. Visit the Planned Programs page for more information about MZTA projects.
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