When it comes to thru-hiking, the Appalachian Trail gets all the love – as does the Pacific Crest Trail. But not everybody has the means or desire to spend 5-6 months on the trail, leading many people to simply hike sections of it. But people who only stick to these well-trodden trails often miss out on some of the best hiking trails in the country – like Vermont’s Long Trail.
At 272-miles long, The Long Trail is hardly the Appalachian in length – but it is a rugged and challenging trail stretching the entire length of beautiful Vermont, from the Massachusetts-line to the Canadian border. Along the way, it follows the primary ridge of the Green Mountains, climbing and descending Vermont’s most iconic peaks such as Glastenbury Mountain, Killington Peak and the highest in the state, Mount Mansfield. Along the way, the Long Trail passes some 166 miles of side trails and over 70 backcountry campsites, ensuring plenty of day-hiking off the trail for a change and places to rest your head. Terrain and views are plenty and varied, with the Long Trail passing through everything from hardwood forests to alpine sedge.
It’s also the oldest long-distance trail in the US, constructed by the Green Mountain Club between 1910 and 1930 – edging out the Appalachian Trail in age by 7 years.
Those 272 miles take, on average, about 19-21 days to complete. If you’re an ultralight hiker with a penchant for speed, it could take significantly less. If you like to relax and take your time to enjoy the scenery, and maybe even explore some less-traveled side trails, then you could stretch that out even longer. Someone who has hiked the entire trail earns the moniker of an End-to-Ender.
Due to snow and mud, you’ll probably want to wait until at least May to begin a thru-hike; summer provides the best weather and better water sources. But – Fall lets you see some classic New England foliage – some of the most stunning in the world. If we could hike it anytime, that’s when we’d do it – just try to get off the trail before real snowfall.
So why not? It’s one of the Great American trails, and one every avid East Coast hiker should tackle at some point – if they’ve got the time.