Dear Trail Friends Throughout the Country:

For some time I have anguished over the gaps in our National Scenic Trails. Only the Appalachian Trail has a continuous, protected right-of-way after a 35 year acquisition, and the Arizona Trail lies entirely on federal land. But the other nine Trails have substantial gaps subject to closure. What can we do about this problem?

I formed Hiking Trails for America to do for all National Scenic Trails what Congress has done for the Appalachian Trail. Helping in this effort are Paul Pritchard, First Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conference; Larry Luxenberg, founder and President of the Appalachian Trail Museum; Bill Kemsley, founding Editor and Publisher of BACKPACKER magazine; Gudy Gaskill, Founder of the Colorado Trail, Skip Yowell, Co-founder of JanSport, and Ron Strickland, founder of the Pacific Northwest Trail. Steve Elkinton, Program Leader for the National Parks Service’s National Trails System, is advising us.

We believe all National Scenic Trails should guarantee a quality hiking experience on trails that have been saved for posterity, and that Congress should act to provide this as it did for the iconic Appalachian National Scenic Trail.

It is Congress that should determine how much time and money will be needed to acquire rights-of-way for all remaining trails, what government agency should be in charge of acquisition, and what NGO should maintain and manage each trail. We recommend that Congress create a commission to address these tasks.

The goal of acquisition will take years, but it’s time to get started. We will be updating this site with frequent blogs, so please check regularly.

If you support our effort and want to be counted as a proponent, send your name and e-mail address to jimkern@thekernco.com.

Jim Kern, President

Hiking Trails for America


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About Jim


Jim Kern grew up in Leonia, New Jersey. He attended Andover and Yale and moved to Florida in 1958. Kern has been a real estate broker since 1960, specializing in the brokerage of vacant land. By 1969 he was also serving as trustee for land purchases. In the 1980s he increased his responsibilities by serving as general partner in buying and selling land through limited partnerships. Jim now resides in St. Augustine, Florida and Highlands, North Carolina.

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