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Forty-two years ago, a large group of passionate hikers set out on a 4,300-mile adventure called HikaNation, that would take 14 months to complete and would stretch from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California to Washington, D.C.  Organized by Jim Kern, the President of the American Hiking Society at the time, the event was sponsored by the American Hiking Society, the United States Department of the Interior’s Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service and Backpacker Magazine.

The project was two years in planning, but on April 12th, 1980, about 75 people left Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to hike to the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C.  Fourteen months later, a hardy band of hikers left Harpers Ferry, hiked down the C&O Canal bank, up the green, past the Washington Memorial and stood on the steps of the Capitol where the Coast Guard Band heralded their arrival. The demands of the hike gave the group a rag-tag appearance, but many of them were shouldering state flags that waved briskly in the bright sun.  After speeches and a dinner later that evening, most of the group hiked on to Cape Henlopen to dip their boots in the Atlantic Ocean on May 27, 1981.

HikaNation raised public awareness and support of hiking trails, provided awareness of the newly formed American Hiking Society and supplied the momentum for the American Discovery Trail's creation.  Learn more at and

The group has stayed together all these years and recently met in St. Augustine, Florida to celebrate HikaNation's 42nd Anniversary.  Over twenty hikers plus their families attended the Reunion to reminisce and enjoy never-before-seen videos and slides displayed by Jim Kern.  We shared them on Facebook, so be sure to visit our Hiking Trails for America Facebook page.

HikaNation was a 14-month cross-country backpacking trip starting at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California, and ending at Cape Henlopen, Delaware. Thousands of hikers participated in HikaNation that stretched over 4,300 miles and passed through 14 states and Washington, D.C.

In this video, Jim Kern and Paula Guerrein fondly remember Paula's mother,
Marce Guerrein, HikaNation's oldest long-term female hiker; the American Discovery Trail; and, promoting the need to close the gaps in our national trails. 
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