BOWNE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A family from Alto built a shelter to house hikers walking on the North Country portion of the American Perimeter Trail.

The A.P.T. is a 14,000-mile loop that goes around the continental United States. The Michigan portion and surrounding area of the trail is known as North Country. The Hough family built the shelter, dubbed Bin-Walkin, after meeting Rue McKenrick, 40, of Bend, Oregon, while he was on a three-year journey hiking 13,000 miles, outlining the American Perimeter Trail.

“Rue was hiking the American Perimeter Trail and was in need of some help. I reached out and offered a campsite and friendship,” Buck Hough said.

The Hough family acted as “trail angels” giving McKenrick a place to stay. Inspired by his long trek, the Hough family built a place for hikers to stay when they attempt to walk the Michigan portion of the American Perimeter Trail and other paths.

The American Perimeter Trail path in Alto.

“…After meeting with these trail angels here and in Alto, Michigan, our proprietor, Buck Hough was inspired to build a shelter much like you’ll see shelters on other long trails like the Appalachian Trail,” McKenrick said. “And this was built from a local grain bin that was just rusting in a field and a farm had already been torn down. He acquired it and built a shelter so that long-distance backpackers after they’ve hiked thousands of miles, will have a place for respite to dry out and to warm their bones.”

Hough began building the shelter on Oct. 19, 2021. It has two beds, a sink and a wood stove to heat it. The Hough family housed their first hiker in the space on Nov. 27, 2021.

Hough said he knows how far a warm bed and a helping hand can go when you’re walking a few thousand miles on a trail.

“I hike this trail and have been the recipient of trail angel kindness. While hiking in the upper peninsula someone offered fresh fruit to me and it meant the world to me. I knew I had to find a way to give back,” he said.

So far this year, the family has housed 10 hikers and considers all of them friends, making sure to keep in touch. Because of that connection, McKenrick had a place to stay last week when he stopped in Grand Rapids to attend a Recreational Equipment Inc. event and speak with the North Country Trail Association about their shared footbed for the American Perimeter Trail.

To learn more about the A.P.T., visit americanperimetertrail.org.