Exploring Trails Virtually


During this time of physical distancing, geocachers are also advised to follow local mandates and safety recommendations. So enjoy the Santa Fe Trail Association’s Geotour from the comfort of your home by touring the sites online instead. Read history lessons associated with more than 70 caches that are placed along Santa Fe National Historic Trail.


Even though the thru-hiking season has come to a halt on trails like the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail, you can still be inspired by watching a Seattle hiker’s journey. John “AppleJack” Betz recorded his 2018 PCT thru-hike using a 5K resolution 360-degree video camera and produced a two-hour video with scenic highlights from the trail accompanied by music.


Now is not the time to be on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, but you can make progress toward the more than 2,000-mile goal—along with your friends—using the “Walk the Distance” smartphone app, which tracks your walking/running distance (daily steps) and provides checkpoints with A.T. photos. You can also check out Backpacker Magazine’s Appalachian Trail in 3-D.


The National Park Service created a new virtual visitor stamp that is hidden somewhere on the Lewis and Clark National Scenic Trail website. People can click around www.nps.gov/lecl to find out more about the people, places, and stories of the trail and eventually find the stamp, which can be printed for passport books.


The Florida Trail Association is sharing new puzzles online for people to solve and enjoy from home using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. These virtual puzzles feature incredible photos and artwork so wherever people are, they can take a journey through the Florida National Scenic Trail landscape.


Several trails offer learning activities for youth, which are especially useful while schools are closed. For example, kids can download a Junior Explorer handbook in English or Spanish about the Arizona National Scenic Trail, fill out a questionnaire to become a Junior Web Ranger, and watch “Fridays with a Ranger” videos about the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.


Take a virtual trip on the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail via Google Earth. Parents can download teaching and learning tools such as coloring books from the Learning Center.


The sixth annual Continental Divide Trail Days was scheduled to take place in Silver City, NM from April 24-26, 2020, but was canceled as COVID-19’s spread increased. In its place, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition hosted a Virtual Trail Days celebration throughout the month of April, which was free to the public and streamed via Facebook Live. CDTC also wrote this blog post about how to support Gateway Communities from home.


Stay inspired during quarantine with Jennifer Pharr Davis’s Armchair Adventure Book Club (kicks off April 9th). The Trek also created this list of thru-hiking documentaries for you to watch. The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail recorded this “Exploring the Anza Trail” video, sponsored by the National Park Service, so students can put themselves in the shoes of a colonist on the Anza Trail to explore the universal concepts of overcoming challenges, having hope and courage, making connections, and seeking a better life.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in Pathways Across America is public domain. All views expressed herein are perspectives of individuals working on behalf of the National Trails System and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Federal agencies.