Frequently Asked Questions - Mile Zero Trail Association

MZTA - Mile Zero Trail Association


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Interesting Information

Frequently Asked Questions will be posted below and grouped by Mile Zero Trail Association organization, the Link Trail project, and other topics.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to help?

-Join the organization
-Spread the word
-Plan an outreach event
-Help form a chapter
-Share and wear the logos
-Donate to a project

More information about these needs will be posted.

What are MZTA's projects?

-The Link Trail
-Youth Camps
-Travel Programs
-The launch of a crowdsource funding campaign
-Designation of a National Historic Trail
-Support for conferences and interpretive centers
-Consideration for a multi-stage competitive bike tour
-Establishment of two conservancy organizations
-Join the Partnership for the National Trails system

The above list is a short overview of goals. See the page, About the Mission, for more information.

What if I'm not interested in trails?

There are many activities and benefits, other than developing recreation and education trails, including:
-Youth Camps for members
-Travel Programs for members
-Planning membership outreach and social events
-Environmental education and tree planting
-The launch of a crowdsource funding campaign
-Development of camp facilities and scholarships
-Advocacy for visitor and interpretive centers

Can an organization or business become a sponsor?

Yes. Support would be greatly appreciated and there are numerous reciprocal benefits. More information will be available soon.

Frequently Asked Questions - The Link Trail

Various key points and details are available about the Link Trail.

Is it the first or the longest?

No, it is not the first, nor the longest. It is shorter than the three main north-south ridgeline trails (called the "Triple Crown of Hiking") - the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail - which are each more than 2,000 miles. It is, however, one of very few east-west trails. While quite a few people have walked and tried to walk coast-to-coast (even further south than the Link Trail [roughly the 35 N parallel], including walks along the route of Interstate 10/U.S. Highway 90), the Link Trail is intentionally not a coast-to-coast trail.

It aims to utilize the interesting terrain of the Central Highlands and other unique features, like the Mississippi Delta, Great Plains and the mountain ranges that bookend it. At an estimated 1,600-1,800 miles, it is considered more manageable and achievable than many longer trails, especially those that cross the continent or cover other vast east-west routes of more than 4,000 miles. The Link Trail is an ideal range and diversity for hikers, naturalists, cyclists and trekkers, and a very good prep for thru-hikers who will attempt the "Triple Crown" trails. A coincidental and unusual feature, it is also an ideal corridor for automobile road trip and carpool caravan travelers, while allowing a reasonable seperation of routes for pedestrians and cyclists. And it is considered to serve an exact purpose to connect recreationists and adventurers to the Interior Highlands and the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian ranges.

It may be the first purposeful National Cultural Trail (which is not currently an official designation for trails), in that it crosses paths with and explores many historic and modern ways of life in highly recognizeable and iconic settings.

How long will it take to travel the length of the trail?

At this stage of development, the information is speculative and subject to change. The average range of travel time (most ideal) is shown for various modes of travel below, with an estimated shortest possible travel time in parenthesis.

Hiking - 55 to 110 days, 2 to 3.5 months (36 days)
Cycling - 25 to 55 days, 1 to 2 months (16 days)
Automobile (on vacation) - 8 to 16 days (5 days)
Touring (various modes) - 3 weeks to 3 months

Why doesn't the trail connect to the southern terminus of the Continental Divide Trail?

The Link Trail attempts to achieve the most direct and safest route possible, while also considering the best route for interesting terrain and cultural experience. Though the route crosses the "American Heartland", the large span of the Mississippi River basin between Chattanooga and Taos, which is sometimes mistakenly perceived to be flat, it crosses a significant amount of challenging, visually appealing and diverse landscapes. Planning takes many important considerations into account: Access to existing trails and scenic backroads is an important consideration. Cultural interests are advantageous. Frequency of potential trail towns and communities is important. And, access to water is necessary.

What characterizes the Link Trail?

The Link Trail corridor is difficult to characterize because its alignment is not a single mountain range or uniform terrain. It covers a cross-section of the Southern Great Plains and Interior Highlands. Between the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountans, it experiences the Front Range of the Rockies, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and the Appalachian Foothills. The land between the ranges is sometimes called the "American Heartland". It spans the width of the Mississippi River drainage basin, just above the coastal plain, from the Tennessee River to the Arkansas and Red Rivers. Its span is sometimes called the Sun Belt. Agriculturally, much of it is referred to as the Cotton Belt, with parts of it passing through the Wheat Belt.

Its Southeast, Southcentral and Southwest regions are highly diverse and distinctively different. Due to its fascinating history and unique cultures, its diversity makes it a cultural crossroads, many times over, throughout history. It passes through diverse cultural native lands and political designated regions of American Indians - Moundbuilders, Plains Indians, "the Indian Territory", Puebloans...

What are some potential Conference locations?

There are many great possible locations for conferences related to trail developmet and recreation planning, along with economic and visitor services support. A few (listed alphabetically) include:

Albuquerque, NM
Amarillo-Shamrock, TX
Ardmore-Davis, OK
Broken Bow-Idabel, OK
Chattanooga, TN
Clinton-Elk City-Weatherford, OK
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX
Decatur-Huntsville, AL
Denton, TX
Florence-Muscle Shoals, AL
Hot Springs, AR
Lawton-Medicine Park, OK
Little Rock, AR
Memphis, TN
Nashville, TN
Oxford, MS
Paris, TX
Raton, NM
Santa Fe, NM
Taos, NM
Tupelo, MS

What existing trails are utilized?

The best strategy is to utilize existing trails when possible, including:

Ouachita National Recreation Trail - 225 miles
Northeast Texas Trail - 100 (of 130) miles
Arkansas River Trail - miles TBD
Natchez Trace 92 miles (Tennessee River to Davis Lake)
Tanglefoot Trail - 35 miles (New Albany to New Houlka)
Benton MacKaye Trail - approx. 200 [two options, approx. 100 each] (of 300) miles
  -North U.S. Highway 64/74/Ocoee River to Fontana Dam, North Carolina
      Appalachian Trail/Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  -South U.S. Highway 64/74/Ocoee River to Springer Mountain, Georgia
      Appalachian Trail, Southern Terminus
Carson National Forest trails - 25-50 miles
Mount Scott Service Road - Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Others to be determined.

Possible utilization to date: 650 miles
Unspecified* route to date: 1,100 miles**
Possible additional access*** or extension: 490 miles
      *General route planned, but not precisely described
      **Includes Arbuckle Cutoff, rather than Dallas Loop
      ***Not including Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, western New Mexico and Arizona, or Okark Plateau

What are some major U.S. recreation trails?

If developed properly, the Link Trail will help form a network of connected recreation trails designated as National Scenic Trails. The approximate lengths in miles are:

Appalachian Trail ~ 2,200 miles
Continental Divide Trail ~ 2,500 miles
Pacific Crest Trail ~ 2,600 miles
Pacific Northwest Trail ~ 1,200 miles
North Country Trail ~ 4,600 miles

~13,100 total miles

~14,700-15,000 miles with the Link Trail (~1,600-1,800 miles)

How was the Link Trail route planned?

At this stage, a corridor for the route is planned. Specific alignments are being determined. With the main goal to connect the Appalachian Trail (its southern terminus) to the Continental Divide Trail (most advantageous point), utilizing the Ouachita National Recreation Trail and the Wichita Mountains, along with numerous parks, it is primarily planned to follow the line of 35 N latitde.

Appalachian Trail
Springer Mountain, GA - 34.6 N
Or Fontana Dam, NC - 35.4 N
Or Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 35.5 N

Chattanooga, TN - 35.0 N
Huntsville, AL - 34.7 N
Florence, AL - 34.8 N
Tishomingo, MS - 34.6 N
Tupelo, MS - 34.3 (on Natchez Trace)
Holly Springs, MS - 35.6 N
Memphis, TN - 35.1 N
Little Rock, AR - 34.7 N (Ouachita National Recreation Trail, east)
Hot Springs, AR - 34.5 N
Talihina, OK - 34.7 N (Ouachita National Recreation Trail, west)

Route for DFW/Houston Access
Paris, TX - 33.7 N
Farmersville, TX - 33.2 N
Plano, TX - 33.0 N
Denton, TX - 33.2 N
Muenster, TX - 33.6 N

Arbukle Cutoff, Potential Bypass of DFW
Atoka, OK - 34.4 N
Davis, OK - 34.5 N

Duncan, OK - 34.5 N
Medicine Park, OK - 34.7 N (Wichita Mountains)
Quartz Mountain, OK - 34.9 N
Hobart, OK - 35.0 N
Clinton, OK - 35.5 N
Elk City, OK - 35.4 N
Cheyenne, OK - 35.6 N
Borger, TX - 35.6 N
Stinnett, TX - 35.8 N
Dumas, TX - 35.9 N
Dalhart, TX - 36.0 N
Clayton, NM - 36.4 N
Springer, NM - 36.3 N
Ranchos de Taos, NM - 36.3 N
Taos, NM - 36.4 N

Continental Divide
Gallina, NM - 36.2 N (Coyote Ranger District)
Or Chama, NM - 36.9 N

Interesting Information

How was the Link Trail route planned?

The planned route has a very inetersting elevation profile that offers intriguing hiking possibiliies and diverse seasons, but might make an even more exciting and challenging bike tour. Sample elevations follow:

Appalachian Trail
Fontana Dam, NC - 1,821'

Chattanooga, TN - 676'
Huntsville, AL - 600'
Florence, AL - 548'
Tupelo, MS - 279' (on Natchez Trace)
A-Holly Springs, MS - 443'
A-Memphis, TN - 337'
B-Sardis, MS - 367'
B-Helena-West Helena, AR - 256'
Little Rock, AR - 335' (Ouachita National Recreation Trail, east)
Hot Springs, AR - 597'
Queen Wilhelmina State Park, AR - 2,681'
Winding Stair Mountain NRA, OK - 2,224'
Talimena State Park, OK - 1,037'
Talihina, OK - 682' (Ouachita National Recreation Trail, west)

Arbuckle Cutoff
Atoka, OK - 583'
Davis, OK - 846'

Duncan, OK - 1,122'
Medicine Park, OK - 1,270' (Wichita Mountains)
Hobart, OK - 1,552'
Granite, OK - 1,614'
Elk City, OK - 1,919'
Cheyenne, OK - 1,969'
Stinnett, TX - 3,186'
Dumas, TX - 3,661'
Dalhart, TX - 3,983'
Clayton, NM - 5,056'
Raton, NM - 6,680'
Springer, NM - 5,797'
Taos, NM - 6.969'

Continental Divide
Gallina, NM - 7,585' (Coyote Ranger District)
Or Chama, NM - 7,871'

Route for DFW Access
Paris, TX - 600'
Plano, TX - 675'
Denton, TX - 642'
Muenster, TX - 1,001'

Historic Background

The Link Trail is not a new idea, nor is it solely based on the historic Appalachian Trail, which was initiated nearly 100 years ago. Obviously, trails were needed and utilized for trade and cultural exchange long before the most famous of them, the Silk Road. Famous names, Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta, are among the millions who have traversed great lands for all of human time.

Whether on an immigrant trail or a holy pigrimage, walking and sleeping in makeshift quarters was a way of life for the world's peoples throughout the advance of civilizations.

Earthen foot and livestock paths were in decline with the advent of the railroad and people seemed destine to be as sedentary as humanly possible with access to automobiles. The Good Roads Movement that is often credited with improving the nation's highways was actually first established to improve routes for bicycles.

With the harrowing journeys of the Mormon and Oregon pioneers long over, the network of archaic American trails were replaced by steel rails, and weather-beaten and tire-trenched roads.

But Nineteenth Century sport walkers and recreation campers, like Edward Payson Weston (American, 1839-1929) and Thomas Hiram Holding (British, 1844-1930), made serious hobbies of hiking and camping. Weston walked 1,200 miles from Portland, Maine to Chicago, Illinois in 1867, averaging 46 miles per day. Holding wrote the first Camper's Handbook and started the Association of Cycle Campers.

Benton MacKaye's Appalachian Trail concept was a plan for a return to nature for American people. His success ultimately inspired a vast network of national trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and many others.

The trail MZTA conceived to connect the Appalachian Trail in the southeastern United States with the Continental Divide Trail in the Rocky Mountains completes an important part of the network, making it possible for modern thru-hikers to walk from Maine to Southern California, ultimately covering nearly all of the states (in the Contiguous 48 states) on six trails. It extends the potential for short-term and leisure adventure use of trails to over 30 million people on and near its path, allowing it to directly serve more than 10 percent of Americans who live along the planned Link Trail corridor and its unique crossroads. It places the U.S. on par with Canada's 15,000 mile "Great Trail" and Europe's over 40,000 mile "GR footpath" network.

But even more than that, by being seperate from the more secluded ridgeline trails, it sets new standards for transit routes by serving many modes of travel, including hiking, cycling and automobile touring, along with possibilities to serve wheelchair athletes and cycling tours. And it may have applications for new concepts in transit, like rideshare and bikeshare services, as well as autonomous (self driving) vehicles.

Connections in Progress

Many organizations have been working on visionary projects along the route for many years, including Rails to Trails projects, culture and heritage projects, transportation connections, and more. Some examples are listed below:

Northeast Texas Trail
Tanglefoot Trail
Arkansas River Trail
Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, NPS Website
Grammy Museum Mississippi - Mississippi Delta Top 40
United States Civil Rights Trail
Big River Crossing (Mississippi River Bridge)
DART Cotton Belt Rail Line
TEX Rail
DFW Veloweb

Other important resources that help connect the Link Trail:

Ouachita National Recreation Trail
Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
Benton MacKaye Trail

Historic Crossings

The Link Trail intersects with dozens of historic trails and forms many interesting cultural crossroads. While lists are not yet available, a preliminary assessment reflects a great many of them. Some of the most obvious and notable are the Trail of Tears, Natchez Trace, the Bankhead Highway, U.S. Highway 61, Route 66, Chisholm Trail, Comanche Trail, Santa Fe Trail, Camino Real, and many others. There are numerous designated historic trails and regional zones, like the Mississippi Blues Trail and new United States Civil Rights Trail. At the ends of the Link Trail are the Appalachian and Continental Divide Trails.

See the page, Link Trail Details, for more information.

Iconic Locations

The Link Trail experiences and intersects many iconic American places. In fact, it accesses about 20 to 33 percent of the most recognized and significant natural, cultural, monumental and industrial icons of the nation. Consider the table below to imagine all the interesting places to be explored on and near the Link Trail. Those on and near the trail, as well as those with unique access options (like the intersecting Natchez Trace), are listed in the left column.

50 Iconic American Places (in random order)
On and near the Trail
-Mississippi River
-Route 66
-The Great Plains, grasslands, buffalo, antelope, prairie dogs
-Appalachian Mountains, Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive
-Rocky Mountains, Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park
-Memphis Music, Beale Street, Sun Studio, Stax, Graceland
-Civil Rights, Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, marches, churches, historic sites
-Central Dallas, Deep Ellum, Fair Park, Dealey Plaza
-Underground Railroad, antebellum homes, slavery, cotton
-Trail of Tears

Accessible to the Trail
-Historic New Orleans, French Quarter, Treme, Garden District
-Nashville Music, Grand Ole Opry, Music Row, Country Music Hall of Fame
-Historic Santa Fe, Plaza, Palace of Governors, Canyon Road
-Houston Astrodome
-San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, The Alamo
-Guilded Age mansions and industrial sites, Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC, Breakers Mansion, Newport, RI
-Brooklyn Bridge
-Golden Gate Bridge
-Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty
-Yellowstone National Park
-Miami Beach, Art Decco
-Redwoods, Sequoias
-Grand Canyon National Park
-Niagra Falls
-Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Philadelphia
-Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Monument
-Women's Rights National Historical Park, National Women's Hall of Fame
-Manhattan, Times Square, Broadway, Macy's, Penn Station, Empire State Building, Central Park, Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, Studio 54
-Colonial Williamsburg, College of William and Mary, Jamestown, Yorktown
-Cahokia Mounds State Historic Park
-Coney Island, amusement parks, boardwalks
-The National Mall, Smithsonian, monuments, memorials, gardens
-Wall Street, World Trade Center, 9-11 Memorial
-Hull House
-Serpent Mound National Historic Landmark
-The Gateway Arch, St. Louis
-Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica
-Las Vegas Strip
-Bighorn Mountains, Medicine Wheel, Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument
-Detroit, Motown, the Henry Ford Museum
-Abraham Lincoln life, Sinking Spring Farm, KY (birthplace), Gettysburg Address, Emancipation Proclamation, Ford's Theatre, Springfield, Illinois (Lincoln Tomb)
-Indianapolis Motor Speedway
-Walden Pond
-Golden Spike National Historic Park
-Yosemite National Park
-Salem and Boston, Bunker Hill, Boston Harbor, Harvard University
-Baseball, Baseball Hall of Fame, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field
-Mesa Verde National Park
-Oak Park, suburb (Chicago)
-Hoover Dam

50 Iconic American Places (in random order)
On and near the Trail
-Chattanooga, Chattanooga Choo Choo
-El Camino Real
-Hot Springs National Park
-Southfork Ranch, Dallas
-"City of New Orleans" train, Illinois Central Railroad
-Ghost Ranch, Southwest art
-Tupelo, Elvis Presley Birthplace
-Texas cattle ranches, Chisholm Trail, Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District
-Santa Fe Trail
-The Natchez Trace
-Civil War, Vicksburg, Shiloh, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Parks
-College Football stadiums, Michigan Stadium, Rose Bowl, Cotton Bowl

Accessible to the Trail
-NASA, Mission Control, Johnson Space Center
-Chaco Culture National Historical Park
-"The Crossroads", U.S. Highway 61, U.S. Highway 49
-Cadillac Ranch
-Texas Hill Country, Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center, Bluebonnet fields
-Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, John Brown's Fort
-Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland
-The Magnificent Mile, Chicago
-Mall of America, Bloomington, MN
-Space Needle, Seattle
-Palm Springs, California
-Tombstone, Arizona
-UFO legends, Roswell, Area 51
-Information Age sites, Hearst Castle, San Simion, Tribune Tower, Chicago, Watergate Hotel, Newseum, Silicon Valley
-Nez Perce National Historic Trail
-Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco Bay, Oakland, Berkeley
-Lake Michigan
-Tremont Street Subway and M.T.A, Boston
-Disneyland, Disney World
-Churchill Downs, Pimlico, Belmont Park, Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown
-A Christmas Story House, Cleveland
-Fallingwater, Pennsylvania
-The Apollo Theater, Harlem, New York
-Westminster Arcade, Providence
-The Wilderness Road
-Plymouth Rock
-Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, California Trail
-Glacier National Park, Going-to-the-Sun Road
-California beaches, Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) 1
-Alcatraz Island, Rikers Island
-Corn Palace, Mitchell, SD
-Lombard Street, San Francisco
-Columbia River
-Pearl Harbor
-Chicago, Union Stock Yards, International Amphitheatre, Grant Park, , Chicage
-Walton's 5&10, Bentonville, Walmart, national
-McDonald's Restaurant, Downey, California, national

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