In concept, the trail corridor is approximately 1,300 miles long. The exact route is still being determined, particularly for the section of trail stretching east from Shanksville, Pennsylvania to New York City. The planning of the trail is based on the use of existing trails and greenways wherever possible.
The trail is shaped as a triangle forever connecting together these sites. The trail would start from the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and connect with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park which follows the Potomac River from Georgetown in Washington, D.C. through Maryland and West Virginia to Cumberland, Maryland; a distance of 184 miles. From Cumberland, the trail would follow the newly completed 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; both of these trails being a segment of the planned Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
From Pittsburgh the trail would move east to Shanksville, and then continue to New York City. This leg would follow existing or new trails to be built, especially taking advantage of Pennsylvania’s many rails-to-trails. The final leg from New York City to the Pentagon would follow the East Coast Greenway; a greenway being built for multi-use as the urban equivalent of the Appalachian Trail.
The vision of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance is to join with fellow American; be they the families of those lost on September 11, 2001, trail enthusiasts, organizations, corporations, governments or simply citizens who love their country and the outdoors; and work together to make the September 11th National Memorial Trail a reality. The trail will be built with “a spirit of national pride and a true love of country.”