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America’s Great Trails

Take a hike! Travel off the beaten path as you join acclaimed outdoorsman and documentary filmmaker Mick Davie along six of America's most beloved and beautiful trails.
America’s Great Trails is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 19.
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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stunning scenery The biggest positive for this series is the scenery itself. Some of it is breathtaking. The host is an Everyman who is walking the trail. Yes, he can come across as a bit too earnest, but overall he isn't a distraction. Some of the staged interviews are interesting people, and they make a nice break from just watching him walk. Other reviewers have mentioned this series is rather superficial. Perhaps it is. But each of the trails covered (with one exception) goes from 1500-3000 miles or so. That's a lot to cover in anything but a cursory style in a 25 minute video for each trail. Should you watch? If you're looking for some nice scenery of the US, then yes. If you are looking more for the history of the trails or in depth hiking, then there might be better videos to watch on the subject.
Date published: 2024-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Enjoyable and Inspiring! I very much enjoyed this course, a once-over-briefly description of some of this country's most remarkable and beautiful hiking trails. I do recommend reading PaladinWY's 2-star review for an excellent discussion of how this could have been much more informative and in-depth. But it is a well-done introduction, which I recommend highly for any with an interest in this area but no experience with these trails.
Date published: 2023-07-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Light Overview of Trails I wish that I had read the reviews before I watched this series as I see many comments similar to those I had while watching the series. While this is a fine superficial overview of six trails, it is not what I had expected. First, the narrator is not an expert in the area (such as a Park or Forest ranger, environmentalist, scientist, or someone who has walked all the trails, etc.). He is a documentarian and journalist. Second, I found his walking backward while narrating incredibly distracting. Third, there was a great deal of discussion that didn't seem particularly relevant. For example, he spent several minutes in the AT video interviewing someone who had never walked any of the AT. I did enjoy the video on the Allegheny Pass. But, I had expected something closer to the series on Wondrium from National Geographic on the Wonders of America's State Parks and was disappointed instead.
Date published: 2023-07-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A bit interesting but needs to give more info It is too obvious that he is "hiking" with an empty or near empty backpack AND that he doesn't hike very far himself. I am glad our library had it to borrow as I would have been very unhappy with the content being so light had I purchased it. The episodes aren't very long but have a long introduction time that could have been used better to include more.
Date published: 2023-06-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great idea This class was a great idea, to show several of the best or most interesting or iconic of teh USA's hiking trails. Spectacular scenery and a generally-good intro to the assets and challenges of each trail. I have a problem with the execution. We get a lot of the presenter walking backward; no cinemetographer to walk ahead of him so he can face forward naturally. He also does an only so-so job with locals: the questions are the dopey-journalist variety. Trying to be real-time (my charitable guess), but preparing and scripting would have provided more actual information AND better-quality questions. Cinema-verite is less important than a quality job....
Date published: 2023-02-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great scenery, lots of inaccurate information The scenery and videography in this series is well done, and gives the viewer a good sense of the landscape and terrain through which the trails travel. However much of the information in the narration is inaccurate or incomplete. For example the PCT video includes a long scene shot in a Sequoia grove, and the narration indicates that PCT hikers would hike through Sequoias. This is not true; the trail stays in the high country and hikers would need a 20+ mile (each way) detour to reach the big trees from the trail. He also indicates that PCT hikers must pass over Mt Whitney, which is not true; it's on a side trail that most thru-hikers do opt to take, but can easily be bypasses. The opening "desert" scenes where the host is walking across what appears to be a dry lakebed is not shot on the PCT . . I have hiked the desert section and there is no terrain on the trail that looks like that. Other episodes have similar problems. It's a series worth watching as an introduction to the trails, but don't accept the factual information uncritically since much of it is inaccurate or misleading.
Date published: 2023-02-01
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing Although this series revealed a fascinating group of trails, with some great scenery, good videography, wonderful drone shots, and some interesting tidbits of information, the entire series was disappointingly shallow. It is more of a “gee whiz” series rather than a serious look at America’s Great Trails. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the series was that almost all the interviews with hikers and other trail folk were less-than-interesting and provided little to no insight about who are the people who hike long-distance trails, how they do it, and why they do it. Practical advice on how to plan or accomplish hiking on any of the trails, except perhaps the Great Allegheny Passage, was almost non-existent. Mick Davie, the “journalist and filmmaker” who narrates the series probably is a veteran hiker, but the use of fake-looking “full” packs, walking backwards for the camera, and staged introductions of people he met along the way really take away from the rigors, realism, and excitement of the videos. Also off-putting is the lack of standard journalistic professionalism. For instance, in the first video (Pacific Crest Trail), he was talking to a John Muir expert who indicated, with Mick’s prompting, that John Muir helped to convince President Teddy Roosevelt to make Yosemite into a National Park. Sorry Mick, but Yosemite became a National Park in 1890, over 10 years before Roosevelt became president in 1901. Mick should have checked this. He didn’t. One must wonder how many other “facts” did he get wrong? It is not my job to check on the accuracy of statements of any source, but it is Mick’s job. And he failed. Speaking of the Pacific Crest Trail, if you want to know more about the trail and what it takes to walk the trail, watch the movie Wild, with Reese Witherspoon. Sure the movie is almost 2 hours rather than the 30 minutes Mick shows us, but maybe it takes that long to understand the trail. And maybe it takes someone who actually walks the entire trail to truly understand the beauty, the agony, and the feeling of accomplishment of actually walking a long-distance trail. The brief descriptions of each episode were also misleading. For instance, in the second episode, the “Heyduke Trail,” the introductory description says, “While Mick provides tips for everything you need to make this a safe, fun, and manageable trip….” You would think that how to resupply food and water where there is apparently none on the trail would be part of that “everything.” Well, no. Mick didn’t bother to talk about little details like that. Perhaps food and water are not need for fun or safety. Still, if you are an armchair traveler with no real desire to get out and hike any of these long-distance trails yourself, you will probably find the series enjoyable. The videos are kind of fun. If you do have a desire to hike one or more of these trails, the series may whet your appetite, but leave you lacking for essential information.
Date published: 2023-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Feast For The Eyes! I have worked my way through nearly 400+ Great Courses series and enjoyed every single one of them. Now, with this addition you have given me a feast for the eyes and ears with this series. Being ober 70 and nearly home-bound due to a stroke I can go to places U've only read about! The photography is majestic, and the personal details of other hikers seem to bring you into their world. Well done Wondrium!! Well done! Great Courses...as always!
Date published: 2023-01-03
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Overview

Here's your chance to sample life on six spectacular trails in North America with your guide, Emmy® award-winning filmmaker Mick Davie. Each trail holds rich secrets of American history and stories of the people who traveled them. You'll learn about different terrains, climates, and a host of incredible wildlife. America's Great Trails is a feast for your senses that can help you rediscover your connection to the natural world.

About

Michael Davie

My passion is telling the under-reported story, chronicling the lives of people on the frontlines of change.

INSTITUTION

Red Rock Films

Michael Davie is a journalist, documentary filmmaker, and avid outdoorsman who has been chasing dramatic, real-life stories for more than 20 years, from the glaciers of Denali to the front lines of the Balkans and the Middle East. His work has earned widespread recognition, including an Australian Film Institute Award for his feature documentary The Choir and Emmy Awards for the National Geographic films War Child and Gorilla Murders. For the film Liberia: American Dream?, he and his team received the prestigious Edward R. Murrow and duPont-Columbia Awards. He also cocreated and codirected the landmark series Belief, hosted by Oprah Winfrey.

By This Presenter

America’s Great Trails
854
America’s Great Trails

Trailer

Pacific Crest Trail

01: Pacific Crest Trail

Explore the Pacific Crest Trail—an extraordinary route that stretches 2,650 miles from the deserts of Southern California on the Mexico border all the way to the Canadian border in Washington state. Mick provides a plethora of practical tips about common risks and dangers, what essentials to pack, when to hike, and where to start. You’ll also hear the history of the trail and discover scenic points and destinations that can’t be missed.

30 min
Hayduke Trail

02: Hayduke Trail

Journey with Mick along the hazardous 800-mile backcountry route of the Hayduke Trail. The red rock canyons and high desert of the Colorado Plateau in southern Utah and northern Arizona produce some of the most arid, inhospitable—yet strangely beautiful—scenery on Earth. While Mick provides tips for everything you need to make this a safe, fun, and manageable trip, he also clues you in about cinematic spots along the route, where scenes from the movies Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Thelma & Louise were filmed.

25 min
Pacific Northwest Trail

03: Pacific Northwest Trail

Travel one of the most scenic and rugged long-distance trails in the world—the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest Trail. It runs from Montana’s Glacier National Park on the Canadian border, west through Idaho and Washington state, ending along the shore of the Pacific Ocean at Cape Alava—the westernmost point in the United States. Hikers will climb more than 205,000 feet, which is more than seven Mount Everests. And as Mick points out, no other trail on Earth can take you from wolves and bears to seals and whales.

25 min
Continental Divide Trail

04: Continental Divide Trail

At 3,100 miles, the Continental Divide Trail is the second-longest National Scenic Trail in the United States, and arguably the most rugged, remote, and hazardous of them all. Running from the Apache country of the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico and ending in Glacier National Park on Canada’s border, it’s a journey that takes five to six months and only about 60% of thru-hikers make it all the way. Mick shares the wild stories and history of this arduous yet uniquely scenic trail and gives you practical tips to stay safe and comfortable as you hike.

26 min
Great Allegheny Passage

05: Great Allegheny Passage

Join Mick for a change of pace as you explore the Great Allegheny Passage—a mostly flat hiking trail from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Cumberland, Maryland, commonly known as “The GAP.” At just 150 miles, it’s a journey along rivers and streams, through tunnels and over bridges, moving from an urban industrial landscape to a small town rural one. Travel along as Mick shares stories of the founding of America and the rise of the coal- and steel-driven industrial age to the passing of that era to the region’s rebirth and regeneration as an outdoor destination for hikers and other enthusiasts.

28 min
Appalachian Trail

06: Appalachian Trail

Mick takes you on the Kentucky Derby of triple crown hikes, the most famous and popular long-distance hiking trail in North America—and quite possibly the entire world—the Appalachian Trail (AT). Passing through 14 states, following the ridges and contours of the Appalachian Mountains, this epic trail stretches roughly 2,190 miles, from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin, Maine. As you travel along with Mick, marveling at the gorgeous scenery and landscapes, you’ll hear the story of how the AT came into being and was built in under seven years using volunteer labor and you’ll get to hike the 13-mile stretch of intense ups and downs known as “The Roller Coaster.”

29 min