Help Us Build the Transcaucasian Trail
ABOUT THE TRANSCAUCASIAN TRAIL
WHY THE CAUCASUS?
The Caucasus region deserves to be on any hiker’s bucket list. It’s a biodiversity hotspot. It’s rich in historical sites, unique cultural traditions, and dozens of indigenous languages. And it’s home to staggeringly diverse landscapes, including snow-covered alpine passes, red desert canyons, lush forests, peaceful meadows, and high volcanic plateaus. We're putting these hidden gems on the map to help ensure that the landscapes and heritage of the region can be enjoyed by future generations.
Simply put, hiking is one of the best ways to experience the Caucasus-- and it's one that has rippling benefits for the whole region.
For hikers, good trails make the rugged mountains accessible, expanding the areas that are possible to safely hike in-- and creating an unparalleled slow-travel experience through diverse landscapes and communities.
For rural communities, trails draw people to places they might not otherwise visit, creating opportunities to develop small businesses and revitalize villages.
For the environment, trails provide a platform for people to learn about biodiversity and develop a personal connection with the natural world-- an essential part of shifting broader attitudes towards conservation.
Over the past six years, we’ve developed more than a thousand kilometers of the Transcaucasian Trail. Along the way, we’ve trained hundreds of local and international volunteers in trail building and maintenance, put new destinations on the map (literally), and launched a new wave of human-powered adventures through the Caucasus.
As the trail has grown, we’ve seen a large increase in the number of local and international hikers on these routes-- and a corresponding increase in economic activity in villages along the trail.
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 everyone.
WHAT WE'RE UP TO IN 2022
This summer, we're expanding our trail building programs at an unprecedented level, mapping new trail sections to connect the Caucasus, developing informational resources to help people get out on the TCT, and welcoming the very first thru-hikers to the trail.
- Local conservation corps programs: After successful pilot programs in Georgia & Armenia to expose young people to trail building and to provide learning opportunities in the field of conservation, we are now working with the U.S. Forest Service and local partners to scale up our training & education programs across the region. We're developing a new regional conservation corps program that will provide training opportunities, environmental education, and cultural exchange opportunities for youth from Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan over the next several years.
- Trail building: TCT crews are working across the region to open up new trails for hikers, in collaboration with protected areas and a wide range of partners. Current trail projects include a new multi-day route through Arevik National Park at Armenia's southern border with Iran, a new day hike through the forests of Nedzvi Reserve in central Georgia, and a new connection into the high mountains of upper Racha in northern Georgia. All of these routes will form part of the long-distance Transcaucasian Trail.
- Route development: We're working to improve the 1,500km North-South route through Armenia and Georgia and to map out more sections of the earlier-stage East-West route through Georgia and Azerbaijan, opening up more sections of the Caucasus for people to hike.
- Community outreach: Our team is working on several new initiatives to involve local community members in trail development and to support and promote local small tourism businesses. In Georgia & Armenia, the TCT team is conducting outreach & trail maintenance trainings in 4 new regions. In Azerbaijan, we're supporting young people interested in trail building to travel to Georgia and participate in our trail crews, then apply their new skills back home. And the TCT team in Georgia is working with tourism-related businesses in Svaneti to organize a new TCT business association, with the goal of supporting and promoting local businesses along the TCT. (If you pass through Mestia, come stop by the new TCT office to learn more!)
- Supporting the first long-distance hikers and creating informational resources: After 6 years of scouting, mapping, and trail development, the TCT team is welcoming the first "thru-hikers" to attempt the entirety of the new 1,500km route through Armenia and Georgia. While many parts of the route are still rough and undeveloped, that doesn't mean there aren't some intrepid hikers who are excited about the challenge! We're continuing to develop more resources to support them, including better route data, more information on essentials like water sources and resupply options, and general advice to help with planning and preparation. These resources will be updated and made public after this summer's feedback, so that they can benefit everyone in the future.
- Building the TCT community: We're continuing to expand our community of volunteers, hikers, and local businesses in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, as well as fostering international connections to the Caucasus. After two years of limited travel, we're finally welcoming a lot of hikers back to the trail!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We're raising funds to support the TCT's operations for the second half of 2022. Individual donations are what make it possible for us to pull partner organizations together and make all of our projects happen-- meaning your support is leveraged several times over.
Every dollar, dram, lari, and manat goes towards our priorities to benefit the mountain people and environments of the Caucasus. Our impact is growing, but we can't do it without you!
Thank you for joining the TCT community. As of 2022, the TCT is officially a reality that people are hiking. The only reason this has been possible is because of individual hikers, environmentalists, and Caucasus lovers like you-- who care not only about creating more hiking trails, but also building a brighter future across the Caucasus.
We'll see you in the mountains!
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