Rue McKenrick is an American long distance backpacker and Executive Director of The American Perimeter Trail Conference. He was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, growing up with the Appalachian Trail running through his backyard. He began his international travels as a teen having spent three summers in much of Western Europe. He first attempted a long distance trip in 2003 completing the Appalachian Trail. With a fervor for conservation and education, McKenrick worked for several non-profit organizations in between his long distance treks. He worked for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Outward Bound, and the Appalachian Mountain Club, and is most proud of his service term with Ameri-Corp. Over the next several years he would go on to backpack the Triple Crown of backpacking completing the remaining two trails the Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide National Scenic Trails. It was after the completion of the Triple Crown that he first conceived of the American Perimeter Trail and its respective conference.
McKenrick moved to his current home of Bend, Oregon in 2010 where he continued to hone his skills of climbing, skiing, trail running, and cycling. He has been known to say, “I will try anything at least twice and if it is terribly intolerable maybe a third.” The next decade he exclusively walked and bike commuted year round. Bend became a comfortable base camp while he continued to escape to the Mountains any chance he got. Still the idea of creating and backpacking the American Perimeter Trail lingered.
One Spring day he backpacked the Three Sisters Wilderness Loop (51 miles) in one day with 25 of those miles in deep snow. In an unfortunate bike accident he suffered a traumatic brain injury; McKenrick had been hit by vehicles 5 times over the last ten years, twice on foot and three times whilst cycling. However, this accident really shook him up, and the next day he quit his job and created the American Perimeter Trail Project.
McKenrick began the arduous 12,000 mile scouting trek of the route in July of 2019.
The next year brought many challenges including civil strife and a global pandemic. He continually backpacked over the next 15 months completing the first 9,500 miles of the APT. During this trek he also created the non-profit 501(c3) the American Perimeter Trail Conference. This organization was tasked with creating a conservation corridor for recreational use that roughly traced the perimeter of the contiguous United States. In November of 2020 he was forced to suspend the backpack while he recovered from OverTraining Syndrome. Rue resumed his trek in May of 2021 in an effort to close the loop by backpacking the last 3,000 miles back to Bend, Oregon.