Traveling the United States – or anywhere really, can come from a need to “unplug” from modern life and get away from crowds and traffic. The TransAmerica trail, and its accidental founder, Sam Correro, are a great example of mixing a passion for motorsports with a sense of adventure.
How did the TransAmerica trail begin?
Sam Correro's creation of the TransAmerica trail took some time – and wasn't really intended. In 1984, he simply wanted to drive his motorcycle through Mississippi while avoiding big highways and large cities. He found himself on the border of Arkansas and just kept going.
Prior to commonly used GPS, Sam needed lots of maps to figure out how to get through cities and states while finding places to fuel up, sleep, and get across rivers.
On repeat trips and like a part time job, Correro was on the road charting over 4500 miles of roads of all kinds that ran as far west as Oregon and far east as Tennessee.
The trail has changed a bit over the years to become more customized to the type of vehicle traveling, and because routes do change over a few decades. Sam developed the trail to avoid pavement when possible – except to find lodging, food, and gas.
How did Sam find all these places? The easy answer is by taking his time, writing down a ton of notes, and being more than willing to get a little lost and find his way back.
Part of the intent of the TransAmerica trail is to bring people to the less traveled roads. You'll mostly avoid big chain stores and restaurants and find yourself meeting people from all walks of life – mostly at “Mom and Pop” stores that support their local communities on the back roads.
Has the trail grown further?
Since it started, the trail now includes directions to get around from Georgia to Idaho and runs as far north as Wisconsin.
Between Sam's own travels and the constant contributions of others, the TransAmerica trail now has several “spurs.” These include an Atlantic ocean route that takes riders from Nags Head down to Shenandoah National Park. It's also worth noting that many of the routes and spurs involve travel near national parks, in an effort to keep the tradition of conservation alive and because of the camping sites offered at most parks. Another spur takes a rider from the trail to the Pacific over the course of 800 miles while traveling along the Oregon and Port Orford coast.
Correro does have an end goal to have a path completely around the United States. At the moment, parts of the heartland and east coast are not charted yet, including Illinois, Ohio, Indiana, and most of New England.
How is the TransAmerican trail distributed?
Initially, with detailed maps. The maps are very detailed, in part because it's rather easy to get lost, and if you get in trouble, stuck in the mud, or run out of fuel, a tow truck might not be able to help you – so finding the right path for your vehicle is necessary.
Today, instructions to navigate the trail are sent out via a few methods. Drivers have the option of receiving detailed maps or roll charts, an SD memory card for a GPS, or an emailed GPS file with the map they requested. The maps are generally available for between $8 and $28 depending on the form of map you want.
Each map also comes with a bit of a guide regarding where to go for gas and food, as well as places to stay.
At this point, Sam still participates in the TransAm trail in part for a love of adventure and to help others pursue rural pathways that are more fun to drive than a typical paved city.
Any safety tips?
The TransAm Trail website and guides provide some safety tips. You could take most any vehicle on the trail – though 4x4 and good tires are highly recommended. Some road bikers also try stretches of the trail. Generally speaking, they recommend taking food, water, and if you can store it, gasoline, on some remote parts of the trail. A spare tire is also a great idea to make fixes on your own.