Jan Walker, 61, of Knoxville, Tenn., was the first hiker/biker to complete the September 11th (9/11) virtual National Memorial Trail Challenge, where she hiked through a 1,362-mile Smoky Mountain trail in Tennessee, which is comparable to the 1,300-mile, biking, hiking and motor-friendly 9/11 National Memorial Trail that connects the three 9/11 memorial sites via six states and the District of Columbia — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Walker also completed a cross-country hike from Oceanside, Calif., to Ocean City, Md., in 2016 in support of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail Alliance. The transcontinental walk took seven months through nine states and Washington, D.C. For more information or to donate, go to www.911trail.org.
The 9/11 National Memorial Trail Alliance created the virtual 9/11 Trail Challenge as an outlet during COVID-19 to encourage participants to get outdoors and explore their local trails and greenways by committing to walk, run and/or bike 1,300 miles in their local areas, similar to the 1,300-mile, 9/11 National Memorial Trail (with socially distanced precautions). Although the hiking part of the trail is not fully completed, the 1,300-mile, 9/11 National Memorial Trail is currently connected by off-road and multi-use trails. The not-for-profit 9/11 National Memorial Trail Alliance relies on financial support from donors and grants to further develop and maintain the 9/11 National Memorial Trail.
“The virtual 9/11 Trail Challenge was a labor of love for me. I love being outdoors and also love being able to support and commemorate an important day for our country,” said Walker. “I grew up in the Smoky Mountains and hiking has been part of my life for as long as I can remember.”