Some of us are born with a restless soul; to quench that thirst for adventure many have taken to thru-hiking long-distance trails throughout the United States. The freedom of taking the road less traveled, and completing one of these scenic trails is something that attracts thousands of diehard outdoorsmen, backpackers, and ramblin’ men every year.
If you’re looking for an adventure, or simply looking to test yourself and your limits, these long-distance trails might be the exact thing you’ve been looking for.
1. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)
Clocking in at 2,663 miles, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) stretches from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington. The PCT passes through 25 national forests and seven national parks, with elevations ranging from just above sea level to 13,153 feet.
The PCT is one of the original National Scenic Trails, established in 1968 with the passage of the National Trails System Act. In 1993, the PCT was officially finished.
To hike the entire trail in one thru-hike, most hikers will take somewhere around 4-6 months to complete the trek. Somewhere around 300 people attempt it every year, with a little over half of them is finishing the entire PCT.
2. The Appalachian Trail (AT)
The Appalachian Trail, or better known as the AT by those who hike it, is probably the most well-known of the National Scenic Trails. The AT is approximately 2,190 miles of iconic trails that stretch from the Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
The trail, which was completed in 1937, passes through 14 states — Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Over 3 million people travel through various parts of the smaller trails every year, but only a couple of thousand people attempt to thru-hike the entire trail. Out of those who attempt to hike the entire route, fewer than 30% actually finish it.
The trail has more than 250 shelters and campsites, making it one of the best maintained and hiker friendly trails in the country. There are also a number of trail towns that thru-hikers can stop at to either re-supply or take a break from the trail.