Arlette Laan poses on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2003. This was the first national scenic trail she completed. Photo courtesy of Arlette Laan

Arlette Laan: Hiking the 11 National Scenic Trails

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Arlette Laan started distance hiking in 2003. Since then she has become the first woman to complete all 11 National Scenic trails — totaling over 18,000 miles. Arlette will be speaking at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater on November 8 about her journey, brief descriptions of the trails she’s hiked, her observations on the changes in long-distance hiking over time, and tips on perseverance. She will also discuss what rewards she reaps from her hikes.

Arlette Laan stands at the Ice Age Trail's western terminus. Once she reaches the trail's eastern terminus, she'll be the first woman to hike all 11 national scenic trails. Photo courtesy of Arlette Laan
Arlette Laan stands at the Ice Age Trail’s western terminus. Once she reaches the trail’s eastern terminus, she’ll be the first woman to hike all 11 national scenic trails. Photo courtesy of Arlette Laan

Laan’s quest began in 2003 when she thru-hiked her first National Scenic Trail, The Pacific Crest Trail. She completed 8 of the trails in the 2000s but it wasn’t until she met the oldest person to hike the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, M.J. “Sunny” Eberhart, who goes by the trail name “Nimblewill Nomad,” that she decided to do the final 3 trails and become the first women to complete them all.

“You can actually kind of just walk and enjoy the scenery and not struggle so much,” Laan said

“You can actually kind of just walk and enjoy the scenery and not struggle so much,” Laan said, laughing. “You have a lot more wildlife, especially like the Continental Divide Trail. We saw herds of elk, and it was just so cool.”

Laan expects to hike the Ouachita National Recreation Trail (not a National Scenic Trail) this month before speaking at the November 8th event.

In addition to hiking and backpacking, Arlette enjoys photography and doll-making. Her dolls can be found on her Instagram page, which is linked on her website.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022, at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater. Doors at 6 pm, Presentation at 7 pm. This is a free event but registration is recommended.

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You can get more information on the event and register for free at the CALS Ron Robinson website.

The event is sponsored by The Ozark Society, The Arkansas Chapter of the Sierra Club, Friends of the Ouachita Trail, Central Arkansas Library System, and ArkansasOutside.com.

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For more inspiration and ideas for putting together a section hike, read our continuing article on section hiking the Ozark Highlands Trail.

Learn more about the National Scenic Trails below:


National Scenic Trails

Intended to showcase our country’s spectacular natural resources and beauty, National Scenic Trails are routes of outstanding recreation opportunity. These routes are primarily non-motorized continuous trails and extend for 100 miles or more. The routes traverse beautiful terrain and connect communities, significant landmarks, and public lands.

There are 11 National Scenic Trails:

A Map of the 11 National Scenic Trails
The 11 National Scenic Trails
Shift Modern Cyclery

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