nationaltrails

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a writer and photographer who has visited all 50 states documenting the national trails of the United States. His work has been published by “E” Magazine, the New York Times Special Feature Syndicate and newspapers throughout the West. His forthcoming National Trails Guide profiles America's 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails.

Selma – History and Meaning

It's hard to imagine that a simple bridge can stand for so much. The Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail crosses that bridge and provides visitors with a chance to understand the struggles faced by the civil rights movement of the 1960s.   Events that took place on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma provide a window into a different time -- when most black people in Alabama weren't able to vote. Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. and thousands of others came to bear witness, walking from the city of Selma to the state capitol of Montgomery.   The trail retraces the steps of those marchers and although it's only 54 miles -- short for a national trail -- visiting or walking this route makes [...]

Wild – Film Review

"Something bloomed inside me as I traced its jagged line with my finger on a map. I would walk that line, I decided, or at least as much of it as I could in about a hundred days..." -Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed The film Wild (2014) is based on the best-selling memoir by Cheryl Strayed, who served as an advisor on the trail and was present for much of the filming. It documents the author’s experience hiking the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT) in the mid 90s after struggling with a series of personal challenges. This story is a journey and movement plays a primary role in the main character’s development. Similar to the fast [...]

The Oregon Trail – Book Review

  The National Trails System is a Congressionally-established network that preserves routes like the Oregon National Historic Trail -- a living monument that stretches 2,000 miles across the country and offers countless opportunities for adventurous travelers to experience the vastness of the West.   The Oregon Trail is a front-row seat to one of America's most enduring legends, a book written in the 1840s that offers modern-day readers a first-hand, visceral account of the Oregon Trail. Author Francis Parkman introduces us to a unique and diverse cast of characters during his wild journey in the summer of 1846 -- a time when prevailing attitudes were not typically generous.   Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska. Photo by Bill Buck   The author began [...]

Trail Angels – National Scenic Trail Heroes

  Trail Angels are a special breed. It's likely that most people have never heard of them -- but it's a given that anyone who has completed a long-distance trail is not only familiar with the term but may have even met one of these elusive characters.   Hikers who have been on a trail for a long time may find they owe a great debt to these life-savers. Anyone who has experienced the feeling of being exhausted, hungry and thirsty after weeks on a trail can admit that the prospect of a hot meal and a little civilization might be just what the doctor ordered.   That's when people like Lloyd Gust step in to save the day -- they can prove to be the [...]

Random photos from exploring the national trails

  This is a unique post of the National Trails Guide: there is no agenda and this is not specifically geared to one trail. Instead, these are simply random pictures taken over three years of road research documenting the national trails. We hope you enjoy a behind the scenes look into seldom-seen spots along the trails...   Along the Natchez Trace, inside one of the many lovely cemetaries of the South. The above picture was taken during a road trip through Mississippi while exploring the national trails. There are many unforgettable places to be found along the way, including this ancient moss-draped tree and lovingly tended headstones dating back to the late 1700s.   The following picture sums up the beauty of America, [...]

National Trails Guide Interview: Ice Age Trail

The National Trails System is a network of 30 Congressionally-designated scenic and historic trails spanning the United States. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail travels 1,200 miles through a wide variety of scenery, highlighting Wisconsin's Ice Age heritage as well as the state’s unique beauty.   This is the story of two friends who decided to hike the entire route, section by section, over the course of a few years. Cheryl and Ann share their experiences here as part of our ongoing series interviewing people who love the national trails. Hikers who complete the Ice Age Trail are known as Thousand-Milers. Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) has documented 86 Thousand-Milers.  According to their 2013 report, 73% section-hiked over the course of a few seasons and [...]

Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce — Book Review

Like the Trail of Tears, every American should take time to discover the Nez Perce story. This proud tribe, which befriended Lewis and Clark on their journey across the West, was later dishonored by a series of broken treaties. The process culminated in betrayal, bloody battles and a thousand-mile retreat by hundreds of members of the tribe seeking freedom in Canada. This quest for freedom has been immortalized by the establishment of the Nez Perce (Ne-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail. Chief Joseph & the Flight of the Nez Perce (by Kent Nerburn, HarperOne) chronicles the tribe's incredible escape attempt. The complicated topic is handled by the author in a sensitive manner and an engrossing style.   Chief Joseph’s father sets the tone for the book as [...]

National Trails Guide Interview: Herb Brambley on the Iditarod

We are pleased to interview the Teacher on the Trail from 2010, Herb Brambley, an educator from Pennsylvania who also happens to enjoy traveling by dog sled.  This exclusive interview with Herb is published for our National Trails Guide readers in celebration of the 2014 Iditarod Race.   The National Trails System is a network of 30 Congressionally-designated trails spanning the United States. The Iditarod National Historic Trail runs more than 2,000 miles through the Alaskan wildlands. Each year, a race is held on the Iditarod Trail to commemorate the use of the route by dog sleds and the mushers who led these teams. Every year a Teacher on the Trail is selected to help other teachers bring a lively curriculum to their students, educating [...]

National Trails Guide Interview: Lewis and Clark Trail (by Kayak)

A meadow along the Missouri River, part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. The National Trails System is a network of Congressionally-designated trails spanning the United States. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail is a crown jewel of this network, a legendary route that traces the voyage of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark from 1804 to 1806. This historic and treacherous mission involved traveling through parts of the continent never before visited by European-Americans, masterminded by President Thomas Jefferson.   Over 4,000 miles of land and water routes today offer visitors an unforgettable vantage point of the West that most people never see. (Learn more about the trail at www.nps.gov/lecl)   We interviewed Janet Moreland, an intrepid adventurer who retraced [...]

National Trails Guide Interview: Potomac Heritage Trail

The Potomac Heritage Trail is one of the 11 National Scenic Trails and follows the Potomac River through the Nation's Capital. The trail's 1,100 miles include the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C&O) -- its geographical heart. You can experience this route on foot, by bike, horseback or watercraft. Karen is a retired teacher who biked the 184-mile C&O section of the trail.   When did you become interested in biking the C&O?   I discovered the C&O in 2008, while hiking the Appalachian Trail and vowed to return someday when I had completed the AT. What were some of the historical items you learned about?    It was very interesting to see how freight was moved in the 1800's before the railroad arrived.  Along the way we [...]