Thru-Hiker's Guide to America

Tuscarora Trail Introduction
By E. Schlimmer
  |  Gorp.com
trail image
From atop its many ridgelines, hikers of the Tuscarora Trail will behold the wide valleys and patroal landscapes that parallel much of this 250-mile footpath. (Photo © Don Desrosiers)
Excerpted from Thru Hiker's Guide to America by E. Schlimmer

The Tuscarora (pronounced tusk-ah-roar-ah) Trail (TT) is a path that was nearly relegated to the history books. In the early 1980s we lost two things: brightly colored polyester suits, and the tread of the Tuscarora Trail. Common sense did away with polyester suits, while briars, bushes, and poison ivy nearly swallowed the TT. But, thanks to the work of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, the Keystone Trails Association, and several state and federal land management agencies, the TT is back and better than ever.

The Tuscarora Trail of today actually used to be two trails: the 110-mile Tuscarora Trail in the north and the 140-mile Big Blue Trail in the south. These paths started out as possible Appalachian Trail alternate routes, but then the Appalachian Trail received its National Scenic Trail protection in the late 1960s and attention shifted from the Tuscarora Trail route to the AT. The Tuscarora Trail and the Big Blue Trail were regarded as mere blue-blazed Appalachian Trail side trails. During the 1980s, the Tuscarora Trail and the Big Blue Trail didn't get the tender loving care they so deserved and became overgrown. There was a severe drought for part of these decades, and the gypsy moth defoliation of the 1980s didn’t help things either.

The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and the Keystone Trail Association stepped in to save these two fading paths. Between 1994 and 1997, the Tuscarora Trail and the Big Blue Trail were cleared, combined, renamed, and better maintained. We now have the 250-mile Tuscarora Trail that starts on the northern tip of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia, and ends west of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A new guidebook was published in 1997, a patch design is currently being worked on, and the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club now maintains the TT. What a success story!

Article © McGraw-Hill. All rights reserved.

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