The 143-mile Big Blue Trail (named for its blue blazes) takes off westward from the Appalachian Trail on Hogback Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. After crossing Massanutten Mountain and the Shenandoah Valley, it veers north and heads for Hancock, Maryland. There, it becomes the Tuscarora Trail and continues another 80 miles in a broad arc back to the AT near Duncannon, Pennsylvania.
Originally, the Big Blue and Tuscarora trails were planned as a westward rerouting of the Appalachian Trail to bypass growing population areas in northern Virginia and Maryland. However, the AT gained the permanent protection it needed with the National Scenic Trails Act in 1968. So the Big BlueTuscarora route became an alternate for hikers who prefer the more rural and rugged scenery of the Massanutten and Allegheny mountains. It can also be used as a giant loop hike when combined with the AT.
For more information: Appalachian Trail Conference, PO Box 807, Washington and Jackson Streets, Harpers Ferry, WV 25425-0807. Phone (304) 535-6331.
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