Exploring the Top Long Distance Hiking Trails in the US

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US

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Have you ever dreamed of embarking on a life-changing adventure, exploring breathtaking landscapes, and pushing your physical and mental limits on some of the most captivating long-distance hiking trails in the US? The United States is home to some of the world’s most iconic long-distance hiking trails, offering opportunities for both seasoned hikers and beginners hikers.

In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to some of the country’s most captivating trails, like the well-known Pacific Crest Trail and the off-the-beaten-path Hayduke Trail, that offer unforgettable experiences for long-distance hiking enthusiasts in the US. So, lace up your hiking shoes and dive into the long-distance hiking world!

Short Summary

  • Explore America’s long-distance trails for unforgettable adventures!
  • Prepare with the right gear, permits & safety measures.
  • Discover offbeat treks like the Hayduke Trail and Grand Enchantment Trail.

Discovering America’s Lengthy Trails

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US
The Appalachian Trail winds through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The US is a hiker’s paradise, with a vast network of trails traversing this great nation’s diverse landscapes. Among these trails are the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail – three of the world’s most famous and challenging long-distance hikes. Each offers a unique experience, taking hikers through some of the country’s most breathtaking scenery and remote wilderness areas.

Are you ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime?

The Pacific Crest Trail: A West Coast Adventure

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US
Pacific Crest Trail on Mount Hood in <a href=httpslifeinutopiacom5 popular hiking areas oregon target= blank rel=noopener>Oregon<a>

Spanning 2,650 miles from the Mexican border to the Canadian border, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) takes hikers through the varied landscapes of California, Oregon, and Washington. From the arid Mojave Desert to the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Range lush forests, the PCT offers diverse ecosystems and jaw-dropping vistas.

The trail can be unpredictable with rapidly changing weather conditions, so coming prepared with the right gear and provisions is crucial. While completing the entire trail is a significant accomplishment, even tackling a section of the PCT can provide a memorable and rewarding experience.

The Appalachian Trail: East Coast Classic

The Appalachian Trail (AT) holds the title of the longest hiking-only trail in the world, stretching over 2,190 miles through 14 states along the Eastern US. The AT offers diverse landscapes, from dense forests and picturesque lakes to rolling farmland and quaint trail towns. The weather on the AT can be unpredictable, so it’s essential to come prepared for various conditions.

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US
Appalachian Trail

While navigating the trail is relatively easy thanks to its well-marked white blazes, hikers should remain vigilant for wildlife encounters, particularly with black bears. The northernmost stretch of the trail, known as the Hundred-Mile Wilderness, is considered one of the most challenging and logistically difficult sections but also one of the most rewarding.

The Continental Divide Trail: Rocky Mountain Challenge

The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is a 3,100-mile journey that traverses the diverse landscapes of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, following the spine of the Rocky Mountains. With its mix of deserts and towering peaks, the CDT offers a challenging and unforgettable experience for those who dare to tackle it.

The trail’s weather can be cold and unpredictable, so preparing with appropriate gear and provisions is essential. With only about a third of thru-hikers successfully completing the entire trail, the CDT is considered one of the most challenging long-distance trails in the US.

However, those who persevere are rewarded with some of the most stunning and remote wilderness areas America offers, such as the Bob Marshall Wilderness in northern Montana.

Shorter Yet Stunning Hikes

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US
A scenic view of the Green Mountains from the Long Trail in Vermont

If you’re looking for a shorter long-distance hike that still offers breathtaking views and unique experiences, consider the John Muir Trail, Long Trail, or Ozark Highlands Trail. While not as long or famous as the PCT, AT, or CDT, these trails provide a more accessible and manageable challenge for hikers of various skill levels.

Each trail offers its own distinct beauty and charm, ensuring a memorable and rewarding experience for those who embark on these shorter yet stunning treks.

John Muir Trail: High Sierras Beauty

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US
Nevada Falls John Muir Trail

Named after renowned naturalist John Muir, the 211-mile John Muir Trail (JMT) stretches 211 miles from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney, taking hikers through the heart of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The JMT offers stunning views of alpine meadows, glacier-carved valleys, and towering granite peaks.

The trail can be challenging, with its high elevation and unpredictable weather, but the beauty of the High Sierras makes every step worth it. Hikers should plan for 2-4 weeks to complete the JMT and come prepared with proper gear and provisions.

The Long Trail: Vermont’s Historic Route

Established in 1910, the Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the US and runs 273 miles through Vermont’s picturesque Green Mountains. With its challenging terrain and stunning views, the Long Trail offers a unique hiking experience showcasing Vermont’s natural beauty.

Hikers can expect to traverse rocky, muddy trails and summit impressive peaks like Killington Peak, Camel’s Hump, and Mount Mansfield.

The best time to hike the Long Trail is from June to October; most people take around a month to complete the journey.

Ozark Highlands Trail: Arkansas Allure

The Ozark Highlands Trail is a 218-mile path that winds through the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, showcasing the state’s diverse landscapes and natural beauty. The trail is open year-round, allowing hikers to explore its stunning scenery during any season.

Along the way, hikers will encounter a variety of terrains, from dense forests and rolling hills to the picturesque 15-mile stretch along the White River and the Lower Buffalo Wilderness—the Ozark Highlands. Trail offers a unique and accessible long-distance hiking experience that will leave you in awe of Arkansas’ natural allure.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Treks

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US
Hiking Trail in Saguaro National Park – Sonoran Desert, Arizona, USA

The Hayduke Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, and Ice Age Trail offer challenging routes with awe-inspiring scenery for the more adventurous hikers seeking less traveled trails. These lesser-known trails provide a unique opportunity to experience some of the US’s most remote and rugged wilderness areas.

Embarking on these off-the-beaten-path treks will test your physical and mental fortitude and reward you with unforgettable memories and a deep connection to the natural world.

The Hayduke Trail: Desert Challenge

The Hayduke Trail is an 812-mile route that traverses the deserts of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada, connecting six National Parks in the region. This challenging trail is not for the faint of heart, as it takes hikers through various terrains, including canyons, drainages, and cross-country treks.

The Hayduke Trail is notorious for its difficult terrain, providing an intense challenge for even the most experienced hikers. However, those who dare to tackle this desert challenge will be rewarded with an unparalleled adventure and a sense of accomplishment like no other.

The Grand Enchantment Trail: Southwest Wonders

The Grand Enchantment Trail is a 770-mile journey that stretches from Phoenix, Arizona, to Albuquerque, New Mexico, showcasing the stunning landscapes of the American Southwest. Spring is the ideal time to tackle this trail, as the weather is more favorable for hiking.

Along the route, hikers will be treated to diverse scenery, from painted deserts and mountainous ridge lines to towering ponderosa pine forests. The Grand Enchantment Trail offers a unique opportunity to explore the breathtaking beauty of the Southwest in a challenging yet unforgettable trek.

The Ice Age Trail: Wisconsin’s Glacial Legacy

The Ice Age Trail is a 1,200-mile route that meanders through Wisconsin, tracing the edges of the last continental glacier in North America. This unique trail offers hikers the opportunity to witness the remnants of the last ice age, with fascinating glacial features such as kettles, eskers, moraines, and outwash plains.

The diverse flora and fauna along the trail, including white-tailed deer, black bears, and bald eagles, further enhance the experience. Although the Ice Age Trail can be challenging due to its length and rugged terrain, Wisconsin’s glacial legacy’s geological wonders and natural beauty make it a truly exceptional hike.

Preparing for Your Long-Distance Hike

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US

Before embarking on a long-distance hike, being well-prepared with the right gear, permits, and safety precautions is essential. Proper planning and preparation can ensure a more enjoyable hiking experience and help prevent accidents and injuries on the trail.

This section will discuss the importance of having the appropriate gear, acquiring necessary permits, and taking necessary safety precautions to ensure a successful and memorable long-distance hike.

Gear Essentials

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US
Some of the <a href=httpslifeinutopiacoma beginners guide to backpacking target= blank rel=noopener>backpacking<a> essentials

Having the right gear is crucial for a successful long-distance hike. Key items to pack include a big backpack, a lightweight backpacking tent, a sleeping bag, an air mattress, a camping stove, clothes suitable for the weather, hiking boots or shoes, food and water, navigation tools, a first-aid kit, a knife or multi-tool, and some emergency supplies.

A well-fitted backpack is particularly important, as it allows you to comfortably carry all of your gear and supplies for the duration of your hike. A lightweight tent will provide much-needed shelter and protection from the elements, while a comfortable sleeping bag and air mattress will ensure a good night’s rest.

when it comes to buying your gear, my two favorite stores are REI and Moosejaw. Both of them offer a plethora of gear and clothing to get you outside.

Permit Requirements

Before setting off on your long-distance hike, it’s important to research the permit requirements for the specific trail you plan to tackle. Some trails, like the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail, require backcountry permits for hiking.

These permits may have varying regulations and fees, depending on the trail and the state or national park you are hiking in. Ensuring that you have the necessary permits not only helps protect the environment and maintain the trails but also ensures that you comply with local regulations and can avoid fines or other penalties.

Safety Precautions

Long-Distance Hiking Trails in the US

Safety should always be a top priority when undertaking a long-distance hike. Be aware of the potential risks associated with long-distance hiking, such as dehydration, hypothermia, and wildlife encounters, and take appropriate precautions to minimize these dangers. This includes packing a well-stocked first aid kit, carrying a map and compass for navigation, and being prepared for various weather conditions.

Taking the necessary safety precautions and being prepared for potential hazards can help ensure a safe and enjoyable long-distance hiking experience.


In this blog post, we’ve explored a variety of long-distance hiking trails in the US, from famous and challenging treks like the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Continental Divide Trail to shorter yet stunning hikes such as the John Muir Trail, Long Trail, and Ozark Highlands Trail.

We’ve also introduced off-the-beaten-path trails like the Hayduke Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, and Ice Age Trail for more adventurous hikers. With proper preparation, gear, and safety precautions, anyone can embark on a long-distance hiking adventure and create memories that will last a lifetime.

So, are you ready to hit the trail and discover the beauty and challenge of long-distance hiking?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the longest hiking trail in USA?

The longest hiking trail in the USA is part of the Triple Crown – the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide trails. Together these three trails span a whopping 5,938 miles!

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a thru-hiker, there’s sure to be a trail for you.

What are the 3 longest hiking trails in us?

If you’re looking for a hiking challenge, then you can’t go wrong with the Triple Crown – the three longest trails in the United States: the Appalachian Trail (2,184 miles), Pacific Crest Trail (2,654 miles), and the Continental Divide Trail (3,100 miles).

Take on one of these trails and embark on an adventure of a lifetime!

What is the longest continuous hiking trail?

The longest continuous hiking trail in the world is the Great Trail (formerly known as The Trans Canada Trail), stretching a whopping 24,000 kilometers across Canada from east to west. It’s considered the longest multi-use recreational trail network in the world and offers hikers unparalleled access to diverse landscapes.

The Great Trail is made up of over 400 individual trails, including a mix of urban, rural, and wilderness paths. It passes through every province and territory in Canada and is open to hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, and paddlers. It’s not.

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