The Next End-to-End Run to End Mountaintop Removal

Elite runner Will Harlan plans to run the entire length of the 44-mile Pine Mountain Trail next Friday. The Pine Mountain Trail is the newest long-distance trail in the Appalachians, and it crosses the second-highest mountain in Kentucky, Pine Mountain.

Last year volunteers completed construction of the first 44 miles of the Pine Mountain Trail from Elkhorn City to Whitesburg. Eventually they hope to build trail all the way to Cumberland Gap, where it will connect with Tennessee’s 330-mile Cumberland Trail.

Appalachia’s newest trail is also the most endangered. Mountaintop removal mining sites abound on either side of the narrow Pine Mountain ridgeline. The dramatic views from the Pine Mountain Trail are scarred by the flattened brown rubble of mountaintop removal sites.

Harlan hopes his run will help bring an end to mountaintop removal.

“Mountaintop removal destroys the health of communities and their economies,” says Harlan. He notes that wind energy now employs more people than coal today in the United States, while highly mechanized mountaintop removal operations employ only a few people.

Earlier this year, Harlan ran the entire 72-mile length of the Appalachian Trail through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, setting a new speed record of 16 hours, 53 minutes. His Smokies record run was also dedicated to ending mountaintop removal.

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