For over a decade, Great Eastern Trail visionaries have been patching together an 1800-mile alternative path to the A.T., mostly using existing trail systems and building trails to fill gaps when necessary. Until recently, a 250-mile stretch between Kentucky and West Virginia was completely void of any viable footpath. So the Great Eastern Trail Association (GETA) filled the gap with ATV trails through existing public lands. The connector path travels through the Daniel Boone National Forest before connecting to trails near the Bluestone River in West Virginia. In Kentucky, the path even takes hikers over a mountaintop removal site that’s being reforested by a local equestrian club.

“Hiking ATV trails isn’t ideal, but it beats walking roads in coal country,” says Tom Johnson, chairman of GETA.