Trail Originators

Watch a clip of Roger and Syd on their original hike Windows Media icon
Roger Williams and Syd Tate came up with the idea for an official Idaho trail about twenty years ago, after completing a marathon hike through the state. Their trek took five years to plan but in1986 Williams and Tate were finally ready for the challenging hike. In one three month long period they would walk twelve hundred miles over the entire length of Idaho.

“I talked to Syd and he said “Let’s Go!” He’s that kind of a guy and he was a partner. I would say this -I would not have attempted it, let alone succeeded without somebody like Syd.” Roger Williams—Trail Co-originator

[Image: Roger Williams and Syd Tate hiking in the Bruneau Desert on the Centennial Trail]

Roger Williams and Syd Tate hiking in the Bruneau Desert

“I’ve hiked with Roger and enjoyed every minute of every hike we’ve ever done…. I asked him how long will it take and he said oh, about all summer long. Oops, I had to gulp a little bit but by golly you’re my hiking partner, I’m going to go with you.” Syd Tate—Trail Co-originator

Williams and Tate began their epic journey in June of 1986. At the starting point on the Nevada border they were accompanied by John Beecham, a friend who hiked the first leg of the trip with them. In this initial stage the group followed the West Fork of Bruneau Canyon. As Williams and Tate continued on their trip they had to average about fourteen miles of hiking each day in order to make it to the Canadian border in three months. Wives and friends provided the duo with logistical support throughout their journey, re-supplying them a dozen times during the long trek. For 86 days the pair hiked through the Idaho backcountry, traipsing through parts of the state seldom seen by others.

“There were places where it was long, hot, thirsty and dusty. And there were other places where it was cold and wet and windy. Places where we were very, very short on water, got dry and thirsty, got sore footed many, many days… almost every day.” Roger Williams

On September 14th, after hiking along the Kootenai River, Williams and Tate reached the Canadian border.

[Image: Roger Williams and Syd Tate arrive at the end of the Centennial Trail at the Canadian Border]

Roger Williams and Syd Tate arrive at the end of the trail at the Canadian Border

After Tate and Williams completed their monumental trek they added another chapter to the story. They enjoyed the hike so much they wanted to share it with others and decided the next logical step was to work on an official north-south trail through Idaho. Idaho’s Centennial Celebration of 1990 provided the perfect opportunity to promote the idea.

“Well first I promoted it to the Idaho Trails Council…and then it went from there to the Lasting Legacy Committee of the Centennial Commission…then we included the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation…and of course we had the Forest Service and BLM who were managing the land we went across. So there were some hurdles we had to go over. The idea was is we would have what they call the Lasting Legacy, something that would be not only good for the total celebration of the Centennial but would last and be usable by the people on into the future. As it ended they used about half the route that Syd and I used and they picked different routes, different stretches for the rest of it.” Roger Williams

In 1990, just in time for the state’s one hundred year celebration, the official trail route was approved…Idaho’s Centennial Trail was born. Over the years that followed, the Trail would become a lasting legacy for scores of outdoor adventurers who were looking for a new and challenging way to see the state.