No matter if you live in Florida or Montana, Maine or California, America is filled with some of the world’s greatest wilderness trails. And while most people have taken short, hour or so hikes, there are those who are looking for something a little more intense. Well, there are trails available for that. America has been blessed with beautiful landscape from north to south and coast to coast, and there are hundreds of trails with thousands of miles that cross through it.
So if you’re looking to go on a long walk, check out these trails, which are some of the longest hikes in America.
North Country Trail
Starting in New York’s Adirondack Mountains and stretching all the way to western North Dakota, the North Country Trail (NCT) crosses through seven states and covers 4,600 miles of trail, making it the longest of the 11 National Scenic Trails of America. One of the things that makes the NCT unique is that it’s filled with wonderful water views, as it crosses near all five of the Great Lakes. It also has plenty of hiking opportunities for those who are looking for a shorter jaunt and includes many smaller, day trails. For those who want to complete the whole route, at an average of 20 miles a day, the trip typically takes between six and eight months to complete, but is a rough one, as you must either start or end the trip in winter.
Ice Age Trail
Located in Wisconsin, this 1,200 mile hiking trail walks you through a landscape that was sculpted during the last Ice Age. With potholes, giant boulders, kettles, and lakes carved out by glacial movement thousands of years ago, the Ice Age left its mark on this area of the country and you can get views here that aren’t possible anywhere else in the world. On average, it takes between seven and 12 weeks to complete the whole hike, depending on the time of year and speed of travel. In 2007, Jason Dorgan set the speed record, completing the hike in 22 days.
Pacific Crest Trail
Made famous by Cheryl Strayed’s memoir and film adaptation Wild, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) runs from the Mexico/California border, through Oregon, and all the way to the Canada/Washington border, covering 2,663 miles of trail. If you want to hike the whole trail, you must prepare. It typically takes between four and six months and it’s estimated that fewer than 200 people a year complete the journey.
Continental Divide Trail
Spanning New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, the Continental Divide Trial (CDT) is not for amateurs. This 3,100 mile trail starts at the northern end of Glacier National Park and follows the Continental Divide over the crest of the Rocky Mountains, a rough and rocky terrain, all the way to the Mexican border. What’s more, with limited resupply points and 30 percent of the trail not posted, the CDT is not for novice hikers and only a few dozen people a year even attempt to hike the whole trail, and even less succeed.
American Discovery Trail
The American Discovery Trail reaches all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, covering 6,800 miles. This hiking path offers both a northern and a southern route and passes through 15 states. This is the only non-motorized trail that goes coast to coast and it’s incorporated into 14 national parks, 16 national forests, and shares a footpath with five different National Scenic Trails. The first time the whole trail was backpacked in one continuous journey was by Mike Daniel, and it took nearly 17 months.
Another trail with a book and movie attached to it, the Appalachian Trail was the star in Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. Passing through 14 states, the Appalachian Trail covers 2,185 miles. From Georgia to Maine, this trail is well-established and great for first time long-distance hikers as it passes nearby numerous towns, crosses many roads, and is vividly marked with white blazes. Most of the Appalachian Trail can be hiked without a tent, as there are over 250 sleeping shelters within a day’s walk of each other throughout the trail. These three-sided structures make the hiker’s life easier and also build a sense of community along the trail. And because of its popularity, hikers also find many hiker-friendly towns and people, willing to lend a hand, meal, or bed to help out a fellow hiker.
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