Get to know the Benton MacKaye Trail, which may soon become America’s newest National Scenic Trail

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Richard Harris and Brenda Harris of Tellico Plains walk to an exit point of the Benton-MacKaye Trail in Polk County, Tenn. on Friday, June 10, 2022.

The Benton MacKaye Trail may soon become America's 12th National Scenic Trail.

In 2021, a grassroots effort launched to get the BMT named a National Scenic Trail. In June, that effort gained bi-partisan congressional support in a new bill introduced in the U.S. House.

A National Scenic Trail is generally defined as a footpath that extends for 100 miles or more and showcases exceptional terrain and recreation opportunity.

"The natural beauty of the BMT makes it worthy of such a designation. The trail's emerald-green forests, stunning vistas, rippling streams and rushing waterfalls are just part of the stunning beauty found in the Southern Appalachian Mountains," Ken Cissna, president of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association, said in a release.

But regardless of whether or not the BMT receives national designation, the trail is worth exploring -- and with over 287 scenic miles, it boasts ample opportunities to do so.