Whether you’re seeking your first or tenth thru-hike, here are our picks for the best long hikes in the USA.
Pacific Crest Trail
This Hollywood-beautiful hiking trail also has a rough side. Spanning the three westernmost states in the lower 48, the 2,650-mile trail covers the most variable terrain the planet has to offer.
From the Mojave Desert in California, piggybacking on John Muir’s travels through the Sierras, then powering through the volcanos of Oregon and the Cascade Mountains of Washington.
Safety measures and information have become readily accessible and even the novice hiker can now attempt the PCT. Other backpacking experience is always a good idea, though.
Continental Divide Trail
The Continental Divide is the literal spine of the country – marking the line where water will eventually run to either the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.
Running 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada, it offers volcano hopping, altitude sickness and heat exhaustion, coupled with grizzly bears and rattlesnakes. In short, it’s a great adventure.
Only experienced hikers should attempt the CDT. There are many sections of off-trail navigating, elevations over 14,000 feet and variability in terrain and weather.
One of the most user-friendly trails, the Appalachian is a great place to start a thru-hiking career, as it’s so convenient to access civilization.
Its long pedigree means there are pages and pages of history and literature for every step of the 2,180-mile trek, which spans from the northern part of Georgia to the middle of Maine.
The perfect trail for the beginner long-distance hiker. There are backcountry cabins, service roads, and close proximity to towns and airports for any emergencies.