MZTA - Mile Zero Trail Association

MZTA - Mile Zero Trail Association

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MZTA seeks Chapter Organization leaders and volunteers in communities along the Link Trail in preparation for the Appalachian Trail centennial.

Join us for the adventure, but most of all, join us in this provident effort.

The Mile Zero Trail Association (MZTA) is much more than a group with a goal to establish a new National Recreation Trail; it is an organization with cultural, educational, recreational and economic benefits for people and communities.

While it will take about a year to describe the trail and possibly another year to have good informational campaigns up and running, it will take several more years to create and improve segments of the trail network in order to achieve the optimum conditions for cars, bikes and wheelchairs, and foot travelers. In this time, we will connect the trail with interesting programs for local people and visitors, and communities linked by their activities.

It will take a strong organization made up of people who are deeply committed. And it is the long timeframe of the initial key project that provides the opportunity to have tremendous social and economic impact through many other short-term projects that can be accomplished along the way. Chapter Organizations are the key to achieve these goals.

The Link Trail
Above is a general graphic of the Link Trail. Click on it to view a larger version.


The Links in the Link Trail

Like most recreation trails, as well as some historic trails, Chapter Organizations are essential in planning, maintenance and promotion of the trail. A few major differences in the Link Trail are based on its modern potential to be an intermodal trail, accommodating various forms of recreation and adventure travel (and to utilize future modes of transit and activity), as well as the potential to develop a trail that is connected by activities beyond strictly recreational use, extending significantly to educational, cultural, social, ecological and historical interests. The Link Trail and its Chapter Organizations will also strive to realize the potential economic benefits for communities, many of which hold tremendous cultural resources and unique attractions, but face decline in their local activity and visitor support.

Volunteers will be critical in the plan to establish Chapter Organizations. Those with leadership experience and community connections are especially needed to help establish Chapter Organizations in towns and cities along the Link Trail corridor. An array of backgrounds, professions and experiences is desired.

View more about vision, goals and criteria below, and send a message to chapters [at] if you are interested to join this provident and innovative effort.
See NOTE 1 below.

A group of young scholars prepare for an educational hike. MZTA Chapter Organizations may choose to help organize
and establish youth programs, and make camp opportunities available to local students.

Be part of a Big... make that a Landmark Achievement

While it will take years - working with our hands, social networks, local governments and federal departments - to establish a complete trail system, there isn't time to sit around and wait. There are many things we can and need to do in the interim - monthly, weekly, even daily - to create a comprehensive trail and a trail association in a new way - our own way - a bona fide National Cultural Trail.

Long before the Link Trail appears on a map, it will appear as a network connected by local people, activities, information, outreach and interested visitors.

We don't only need to know the best route through a region or county; we need to know the best reasons to come to a community, whether by car, bike or on foot. We don't only need a trail; we need hospitality services. We don't only need path finders and trail builders; we need events and programmers. And, we don't only need to recognize the possibilities of the trail for ourselves; we need to provide its benefits for others, especially young people and adults who may be struggling.

As an intermodal trail with parallel access for automobiles and buses, bikes and wheelchairs, and hikers and runners, Mile Zero Trail Association suggests that everyone involved should have a vision of a trail that will suit widely varying interests:

Accommodate thru-hikers traveling the full distance between the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains, with local activities that may surprise and delight them during a wayside stop in a great trail town;

A trail that cyclists may tour leisurely and safely, with lots of great attractions in local, state and national parks; potentially, even forming a competitive multi-stage bike tour route;

A memorable, educational family road trip that provides unique and exciting experiences - fun, food, festivals, farm markets - in distinctive cultural destinations across the country;

The center of many healthy pursuits for local people in small towns, including walks and runs, local fundraisers, and activities that connect people with neighbors and neighboring communities.

And, a trail that promotes quality of life for locals and travelers alike through activities and resources for music lovers, historians, geologists, rock climbers, or participants' many other possible interests.

MZTA Chapter Organizations will help prmote local places
of cultural, historical and educational interest.


Building Local Community, Connecting National and International Communities

Keep in mind, in addition to the creation and promotion of the Link Trail, there are many other member benefits, as well as community benefits and activities. Volunteers and Chapter Organizations should consider themselves and their roles to include cultural and educational program development in their local communities, in addition to trail planning to link communities.

Volunteers should consider the following steps and criteria:


Review pages on the Mile Zero Trail Association website.

Propose a community where a Chapter Organization will be needed (see graphic above and list below). Communities on or near the Link Trail include, but are not limited to:
Taos, NM
Chama, NM
Chimayo, NM
Raton, NM
Wagon Mound, NM
Clayton, NM
Dalhart, TX
Stinnett, TX
Borger, TX
Canadian, TX
Elk City, OK
Clinton, OK
Granite, OK
Hobart, OK
Medicine Park, OK
Duncan, OK
Muenster, TX
Denton, TX
Grapevine, TX
Fort Worth, TX
Dallas, TX
Plano, TX
Farmersville, TX
Paris, TX
Clarksville, TX
Idabel, OK
Broken Bow, OK
Davis, OK
Sulphur, OK
Atoka, OK
Clayton, OK
Talihina, OK
Rich Mountain, AR
Hot Springs, AR
Natural Steps, AR
Little Rock, AR
Clarendon, AR
Helena, AR
Tunica, MS
Memphis, TN
Holly Springs, MS
New Albany, MS
Oxford, MS
Tupelo, MS
Tuscumbia, AL
Muscle Shoals, AL
Florence, AL
Decatur, AL
Huntsville, AL
Scottsboro, AL
Chattanooga, TN
Cleveland, TN
Ocoee, TN
Tellico Plains, TN
Fontana Dam, NC
Bryson City, NC
Cherokee, NC
Amicalola, GA

Organize a committee of at least five people in the community.

Ensure that the committee is open to all who want to participate.

Ensure that the committee will operate fairly and professionally.

Ensure that the committee is aware that a significant role for those on the Link Trail route is to help plan the best and safest possible route for hikers, cyclists, drivers, and others. Local input and practice will be needed.

Ensure that the committee is interested to contribute local information (points of interest, attractions, distinctive local businesses, arts, events, places for travelers to resupply, lodging, historic information, iconic people and places, etc.) to MZTA for inclusion in the website and newsletter.

Ensure that the committee is interested to develop a local program for the community, such as a fun-run or walk, pop-up market, small festival, lecture series, tree program, youth camp, after-school program, community farm or garden, clean-up day, conservation program, film screening, writer/author program, or other unique program idea. Programs may be periodic or annual, and there may be more than one, but it is important to have achievable goals. Small scale fundraising may be needed to produce the program. (Note: A small program in a local art space or coffee shop, like a talk by a local artist, may have as much value to a community as a large visitor attraction, like a festival. It is envisioned that communities on the Link Trail will band together to produce larger programs, like a traveling "Link Festival".)

Ensure that the committee has and understanding of the variety of benefits of the Link Trail, as well as other goals of Mile Zero Trail Association, including recreation, health, environment, economic impacts, and the value of programs (talks, mini festivals, markets, farms, outings, etc.).

Encourage the committee to be willing to consider what the community needs to best accommodate travelers/visitors, and help determine and work on solutions.

Determine and propose a name with local substance and identity for the Chapter Organization. Further guidelines will be provided.

Make committee members aware that the standards in our processes are being determined and established in this evolving grassroots effort.

Please continue to refer to this page as information is subject to change and may be updated with additional input.


Meet regularly, at least 9-12 times per year.

Meet openly, at a place everyone may attend.

Provide outreach to gain local Chapter Organization members.

Provide decision-making input to MZTA through committees, boards, annual conferences, and email and phone communications.

Plan a periodic, regularly scheduled or annual program, similar to the examples above.

Provide Chapter Organization members with information about MZTA (the collective activities of the board, volunteers, sponsors, service providers, and all Chapter Organizations of the organization), which should be distributed in a periodic newsletter or bulletin, as well as occasional social media posts.

Consider and take action on items that will improve the experience of travelers (on foot, bike, motor vehicle and other modes) to the local community and through connections to neighboring communities.

In cooperation with all Chapter Organizations, develop a means of input and decision-making for the national organization, Mile Zero Trail Association and a future conservancy that is likely to be established. This process is anticipated to take place primarily through annual meetings and/or conferences, as well as online meetings. The economics of this process will be a major and important consideration.

Please continue to refer to this page as information is subject to change and may be updated with additional input.

At this stage, volunteers are needed. The organization plans to operate and provide benefits to members in much the same way that most recreation, travel and trail advocacy organizations function - by requiring annual membership dues and by seeking donations and sponsorships for programs. There are decisions that must be made and approved by the Mile Zero Trail Association's board of directors, but at this point, pioneering volunteers are essential to find the path ahead.

Those volunteering to organize committees and serve on Chapter Organizations will be considered "founding volunteers" of the organization and may even become board members. They will have the opportunity to be Charter Members (joining before June 30, 2018) or Inaugural Members (joining by January 31, 2019) by joining the membership base of the organization if they choose. But founding volunteers are not required to become members through financial contribution. Their time is a substantial and critical contribution.

The establishment of Chapter Organizations is our most timely need. Please send a message to chapters [at] if you are interested to join this provident and innovative effort.

NOTE 1: Send a message for the purpose of committee and Chapter Organization planning only. It is not a newsletter signup. General or periodic information about MZTA will not be provided to the general public or media through this email. It is for direct committee and Chapter Organization communication and planning only. Spam will be reported and blocked. MZTA will be in contact with those who inquire about committee and Chapter Organization planning and will not share your email with any people or businesses, except in the possible case where a person has a coincidental interest to organize a committee and Chapter Organization in the same town, city or close goeographic area. (Example: For the purpose of local organizing, MZTA will facilitate communication with more than one individual in a region by communicating as a group or sharing email addresses for this limited purpose if each in the group agree.)

NOTE 2: Committees and Chapter Organizations referenced above are generally the same thing. Forming a committee to establish a Chapter Organization is the logical process. Since Chapter Organizations should function like committees, they make occasionally be referred to as committees, particularly in reference to their decision-making roles in MZTA.

NOTE 3: MZTA is planning the Link Trail to be largely established by the 100 year anniversary of Benton MacKaye's original vision for the Appalachian Trail. MZTA is not planning activities for the centennial of the Appalachian Trail, which will presumably be organized by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, its club organizations and trail communities. MZTA will support and encourage its chapters and members to participate in those activities. But our major goal is to establish the Link Trail to form an intermodal connection between the Continental Divide and Appalachian National Scenic Trail, with significant participation, description and completion, by the 2021 anniversary. This goal will honor the original accomplishment by extending the long-distance trail concept further to additional participants and by innovating for the future.

MZTA Chapter Organizations will plan and present programs of local interest.

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