Start at Mile Zero
We know "Mile Zero" as a famous pop culture reference based on nostalgic highway markers. It is fun to take pictures at Mile Zero on U.S. Highway 1 in Key West, Florida, or at Mile Zero on the Trans-Canada Highway in Victoria, B.C., Canada (Vancouver Island), or setting out on the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, B.C., Canada. There is even a Zero Milestone in Washington DC.
Mile Zero is where you check that you have your supplies on a long hike. It's where you check your tires on a demanding bike tour. It's where you check your dedication on a long-distance run. It's where you check your GPS before an exciting road trip. It's where you check the calendar when you set out for several months on the Appalachian Trail.
And it's an even greater commitment we make at Mile Zero when we begin to blaze a new trail, one that will serve all those purposes.
Though their range is greatly reduced, bison are a timeless symbol of the Great Plains.
Be Part of a Big Achievement
While it will take years - working with our hands, working with local governments, working with 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.
Sunflowers represent the long span of seasons for exploring the Link Trail.