Bend hiker Rue McKenrick completes his last scouting trip of the 14,000-mile American Perimeter Trail

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Bend resident Rue McKenrick completed his last scouting trip of the 14,400-mile American Perimeter Trail. Find out more about his efforts here.

When Rue McKenrick walked into Bend’s Drake Park this past Saturday, his arrival marked the completion of a dream more than three years in the making.

It was the end of his last scouting trip of the 14,000-mile American Perimeter Trail (APT), a path that circumnavigates the continental United States using a combination of existing trails and undefined routes, and the brainchild of McKenrick.

A welcoming party waited for him in the park, celebrating the completion of “Phase 1” of his mission as the executive director of the Bend-based nonprofit American Perimeter Trail Conference (

“It was extremely emotional,” McKenrick said. “Some of those people I hadn’t seen in three years.”

His arrival in Bend marked the end of the last 600-mile segment of the route, from Omak, Washington, to Bend, a journey that included the Pacific Northwest Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and other shorter trails.

But McKenrick said his work is just beginning. He said Phase 1 included hiking and creating the route, forming the nonprofit and a board of directors, and making it into a membership nonprofit so that people can join from all over the world.

Phase 2 includes creating a digital map, working on a documentary on the APT, and creating a business plan for writing grants for the nonprofit, according to McKenrick.

Just three days after completing his journey in Bend, McKenrick was headed to Montana to work more with Wilderness Mindset Productions, which is making a documentary on the APT.

The film crew was with him as he finished his long journey through the Mount Jefferson, Mount Washington and Three Sisters wilderness areas in Oregon.

“Coming into Bend, everything got very familiar, so I sort of turned into a tour guide for the film director,” McKenrick said.

“It was very emotional the first time I saw the Three Sisters and saw the lights of Bend. It really started to sink in that this was done.

“But my work is only actually getting started right now with the American Perimeter Trail Conference, and that’s my life’s work. The real workload starts now.”

McKenrick said he plans to go back along some of the route next year, because over such a long distance the route is constantly changing.

He also plans to meet with many trail organizations and land management agencies throughout the country.

A Bend resident since 2012, McKenrick, 42, has spent much of the past four years hiking the route and working to form the American Perimeter Trail Conference, which has a mission “to create a protected corridor of land and natural resources available for recreational use roughly tracing the contiguous United States.”

McKenrick completed the Triple Crown of hiking in his 20s — thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail (more than 2,100 miles from Georgia to Maine), the Continental Divide Trail (more than 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada through the Rocky Mountains) and the Pacific Crest Trail (more than 2,600 miles from Mexico to Canada through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges).

Raised in Pennsylvania, McKenrick has spent most of his adult life traveling and working for outdoor education nonprofits, including Outward Bound and as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

McKenrick said he first thought about the perimeter hike years ago, shortly after completing the Triple Crown.

He first set out from Bend to scout the APT in July 2019 and walked down the West Coast, across the Southwest and the South, up through the Appalachians and across the Upper Midwest before his journey was cut short in North Dakota due to illness. He estimates that he made it more than 9,000 miles on the 15-month trek.

McKenrick mailed packages of food and supplies ahead to himself to post offices along his predicted route. He camped most nights under a tarp that weighs a half pound and that he could roll up into the size of his fist.

McKenrick returned to Bismarck, North Dakota, in May 2021 to finish where he left off. When he reached the Montana plains, record-high temperatures led to heat exhaustion for six weeks.

When he reached the Pacific Northwest Trail (which connects Glacier National Park and Olympic National Park) nobody was hiking it because temperatures were above 100 degrees and more than 100 wildfires were burning across Montana, Idaho and Washington.

McKenrick said he was “really sick” by the time he reached Washington in early September 2021. He was only a three-day walk from reaching the Pacific Crest Trail. But he called his doctor and described his symptoms. He was told he was in pre-organ failure and his trip was cut short yet again.

Earlier this past summer, he returned to where he left off in Washington to complete the four-day trek to the PCT, then followed the trail back south all the way to Bend to close the entire loop.

For more information, visit Follow American Perimeter Trail and Rue McKenrick on Facebook and Instagram.

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