Help Us Build the Transcaucasian Trail in 2021
About the Transcaucasian Trail
We're a small team dedicated to building a world-class, long-distance hiking trail across the Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The Transcaucasian Trail (TCT) will cover more than 3,000km and connect roughly two dozen national parks and protected areas in the region. Our aim is to improve access to the region’s diverse cultural and natural heritage and encourage its preservation, benefiting local communities and trail users through the development of sustainable tourism. Learn more here.
Next year will be the 5th anniversary of starting to build the TCT, and we’ve covered nearly a thousand kilometers since then-- mostly thanks to individual donors who are excited about our mission of outdoor access and conservation in the Caucasus. As of now, the first full TCT route from the southern Armenian border to northern Georgian border is 70% complete in Armenia and 40% complete in Georgia. Join us!
Our 2020 funding gap
It's been a hard year here in the Caucasus, and we know we've got lots of company when we say 2020 didn't go as planned. In the midst of a pandemic and a war, we've tried to lend hands where we can while continuing to do what we do best-- bringing people together, building beautiful trails, and championing the beauty of the Caucasus-- in the hope that when the world settles, there will be even more to appreciate.
But as an organization, we lost much of this year's funding, which had been raised through supporters’ treks along the trail that we cancelled due to the pandemic. This left us with a budget gap of $50,000.
So this summer, we raised $11,000 to support our priority projects and worked like crazy to continue extending the TCT. Here's what we accomplished:
- Launched the Caucasus Conservation Corps program to train new trail crew leaders and provide environmental education & career opportunities to youth
- Scouted new routes for development in Armenia (Arevik National Park, Vayots Dzor, and Syunik) and Georgia (Racha and Samegrelo)
- Extended our trails in Zeskho (Georgia) and Dilijan (Armenia)
- Began building new trails in Lagodekhi National Park (Georgia) and Syunik province (Armenia)
- Worked with Cartisan to launch a new trekking map of Vayots Dzor, Armenia
- Developed new partnerships with local protected areas and NGOs
Our vision for 2021 & beyond
Thanks to this, we're on the edge of some big things-- and in 2021, we'll be taking key steps toward our longer-term vision.
We'll be training new Caucasus Conservation Corps crew leaders in the spring. With them, we’ll be able to quadruple the number of local crews out working on the trail next summer-- meaning we can work in multiple locations and get more trail built faster, all while supporting the professional development of local environmental leadership.
Our beta route through Armenia and Georgia is close to being complete for intrepid hikers to test. After some final scouting and mapping, we hope to start sharing it by the end of summer 2021. Then we'll be able to focus on a more "polished" version with trail guides to come in 2022-- and on the next route heading East to West.
All of this means that we're getting a lot closer to our goals for the next few years. These include:
Launching the first complete TCT route from the southern Armenian border to Svaneti, Georgia
Piecing together the second TCT route from the Black Sea in Georgia to the Caspian Sea in Azerbaijan
Expanding the Caucasus Conservation Corps into a region-wide program, involving multiple crews each summer and international exchange
Deepening our partnerships with the protected areas and having crews working in multiple national parks
Expanding our trail notes & resources to make more regions of the Caucasus accessible to hikers, and translating them into local languages
Starting local trail clubs to involve towns in the maintenance of surrounding trails
Welcoming more hikers to the new trails!
We're excited. But right now, quite frankly, we need your help to bridge our funding gap and get through the next year.
How you can help
We’re aiming to raise $25,000 over the next month to support our core trail development projects in Armenia and Georgia in 2021. This will go towards:
- Local trail crews who will extend and maintain the trail
- New cohorts of participants in our Caucasus Conservation Corps program
- Scouting projects to develop routes in the current gaps
- Staff time to develop trail notes and related resources
- And some of the core operational costs that allow us to keep building towards our long-term vision
Supporting the TCT helps fund the trail, but it's also an investment in the region with ripple effects far beyond the trail itself. By investing in the Caucasus' outdoor infrastructure, we’re helping increase opportunities for small businesses in mountain regions, providing environmental education & professional development for trail crew members, and improving access to the region’s natural & cultural heritage for all. Ultimately, it's a way of investing in the connections that matter perhaps now more than ever.
We can’t say enough thanks to everyone who has supported us this year. We know it’s an extremely difficult time and there are a lot of organizations in need, so every bit of support means a lot to our team.
What are the different TCT membership levels?
We're grateful for contributions of any amount. We also have a few designated membership tiers, all of which include our membership benefits: invitations to local and virtual TCT events, access to the beta versions of new routes as they become available, a $100 discount on any TCT volunteer program or supporters’ trek, and a subscription to our quarterly members’ newsletter.
If you (or someone you know) are thinking about hiking parts of the trail, a TCT membership is an ideal way to support the trail infrastructure you're using, and gives you access to dedicated events to help you plan your trip.
Annual/monthly membership: Become part of the core TCT supporters' community. You can select an $100 annual or $10/month option (which you can cancel at any time). We also have a discounted annual option for students / lower income folks.
Trail Crew Sponsor: Support a local crew for a 2-week session of trail building.
Adopt a Kilometer: Support the creation and five years of maintenance of an entire kilometer of the TCT. We’ll list you on the Adopt-a-Kilometer section of our Sponsors page and the relevant trail notes.
Thank you so much for your support-- and for helping make the TCT a reality!