Elliott Landry joins Great Smoky Mountains 900-Miler Club

Published 10:01 am Wednesday, June 30, 2021

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By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

ALABASTER – Only a select group of people have what it takes to hike all of the trails in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Those who are able to brave the elements and meet all of the physical demands required of this challenge belong to an elite group known as the 900-Miler Club. While the actual mileage of all the trails falls a little under 900 miles, hikers who complete this challenge typically hike much more than that.

Maylene teen Elliott Landry, 14, recently demonstrated he was worthy of this honor before he was even able to operate a car, when he finished his last mile of trail on June 4.

Elliott first started working on his miles when he was 5 while joining his father Joseph Landry on hikes in the park.

“This is something that I personally accomplished back in 2017,” Joseph said. “By that time, he had been joining me and had really gotten about half of his trails.”

Joseph began collecting his miles back in the ‘90s after his wife and him honeymooned in the Smoky Mountains. All three of his kids; Patrick, Elliot and Amanda, have spent some time hiking with him, but Elliott was the only one to pursue this accomplishment.

“I have noticed that he had much more of an appreciation for nature,” Joseph said. “Once I completed my miles in 2017, we started looking at his log and we realized it was something he could do because he had completed about half of his trails by that point.”

Elliott said the process was something he was really proud to have accomplished at such a young age.

“It felt pretty good to finish it. It was cool to make it to the end of that journey,” Elliott said. “It was pretty difficult and it takes a lot of effort, but it felt good to finish it.”

Joseph said he did some research into those who have completed the trails, and he believes Elliott is one of the youngest people to join the club.

“When I started looking into children who have done this the only reference I could find was the club’s founder, Lou Murray’s son,” Joseph said. “Elliott was 5 years old when he started hiking with me so we realized it was something that we could do.”

The club exists on the honor system. Those who join it typically keep some kind of record of their hikes to justify their membership. Elliott kept a log book that recorded each of these trips and the particular trail he and his dad hiked.

“I have not calculated the exact number of miles by looking at each log entry, but I did quickly scan over it. It was done over 46 separate trips, I know,” Joseph said. “What I did was I just started putting a pin on one of the trail maps. That was my log. I continued it with my son.”