Three Gems in the Triple Crown of Hiking
The Triple Crown
The oldest of them all, the green tunnel blazed by white, the Appalachian Trail.
The Pacific Crest trail, where the highest peaks of the Sierra ebb into the California desert.
The Continental Divide Trail, so wild and sparsely blazed that its trail slogan is “Brave the CDT”.
These three trails represent the Triple Crown of hiking in the United States. They also represent walking through 22 states and over 7,000 miles.
The Triple Crown is a momentous achievement for any long distance hiker. But most folks can’t take multiple seasons off their 9 to 5 jobs or 24/7 family life. For the rest of us there is another option. An alternative triple trail amalgamation of hiking glory.
The “Mini” Triple Crown
On the East Coast, the oldest distance hiking trail in the United States extends 273 miles through a green tunnel at the Massachusets border to rocky summits near the northern terminus at the Canadian Border. The rocky, ridge running Long Trail.
The Colorado Trail traverses nearly five hundred miles of Rocky Mountain madness. Climbing from its northern terminus near Denver, most of the trail floats above 10,000 feet with a high point of 13,271 feet. The Colorado Trail ends with a spectacular finish in the San Juan mountains near Durango, some of the best and most beautiful in the state.
Start among the Giant Sequoias of Yosemite National Park, wander through three more national parks, and walk more than 200 miles before finishing at a staggering 14,496 feet on Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States. The spectacular John Muir Trail.
The Triple Gem
These three trails represent the Triple Gem of United States hiking.
Like the Triple Crown, the Triple Gem incorporates the completion of three epic long trails – the Long Trail in the east, The Colorado Trail along the Rockies, and the John Muir Trail along the west coast.
Unlike the Triple Crown concept, which has it’s oldest official recipients stretching back to 1994, the Triple Gem concept has much more recent roots.
In 2014, pioneering ultralight gear manufacturer GoLite filed for bankruptcy and liquidated their assets. But for ten years prior to liquidation, GoLite and co-founder Demetri “Coup” Coupounas made it his mission to bring ultralight to the masses.
Early in GoLite’s career, Coup set out to prove that his ultralight GoLite gear could completely reinvent the way long trails were conquered. As evidence, he set out to hike a set of Long Trails in what he deemed an “Alpine Style Thru Hike”. Coupounas packed a minimal base weight and all the food and supplies necessary to complete his totally unsupported hikes.
Coup’s achievement was unprecedented. In 2004, he was the first known person to complete these trails unsupported. His achievement was first called the “Mini Triple Crown”, because all three shorter trails incorporate sections of their larger Triple Crown namesakes. The achievement has since been known as the Triple Gem, as these regional trails are considered gems among the nation’s longer scenic trails.
The Triple Gem is a chance to experience a taste of the United States incredibly diverse distance trails, with an eye for time and a mind for budget. And if you end up completing all six trails, they make the perfect Gems in your Triple Crown.
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