BOSTON — Anne Lusk is an old hand at the art of blazing recreational trails. In 1990, she was honored as one of President Bush's "1,000 points of light" for her work in helping put together a 5.3-mile bike path in her hometown of Stowe, Vt.
As the town's bike-path coordinator, Ms. Lusk supervised efforts to build the scenic path that winds through the community's farm fields and hillsides.
Now Lusk is working on an even bigger project: a recreational trail that runs from Maine to Florida, a vision launched by a volunteer group known as the "East Coast Greenway."
Organizers want to build the trail through industrial areas where abandoned railroad tracks are located. Existing bike paths, and canal towpaths (paths once used by mules for hauling boats through canals), would be used as well. The idea is to have the path wind through city neighborhoods.
"The East Coast Greenway is called the urban equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, and the plan is to go through cities and connect with the [urban] population bases," says Lusk. "Everyone, including inner-city individuals, should have access to a greenway."
In July, Lusk and a group of eight other Greenway enthusiasts biked 1,000 miles from Boston to Washington, D.C., to explore the route. Lusk and her cycling group rode 25 to 55 miles per day, stayed overnight in the homes of volunteers, youth hostels, or on the floors of churches.
"We did not take the most easily traveled road," she says. "We were going through knee-deep water and carrying our bikes over rotted trestle bridges and bushwhacking through thick overgrowth to explore what would potentially be the East Coast Greenway."
So far, she says, the Boston to Washington route, still in the planning stage, consists of existing trails. Greenway organizers hope to have the entire trail completed by 2000.