Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail has always been a goal of mine. And, while researching trails for this article many other places made their way to my list of places to thru-hike. The act of finishing a long, continuous trail on one shot is strenuous, demanding and, at the end of it, as rewarding as can be. It may take six or more months out in the wilderness, but that time spent away from everything can only change you for the best.
Have you hiked any of these before? Let us know in the comments below!
(Image Source: Flickr | Mark A. Nakasone)
Israel National Trail, Israel
For those looking to visit Israel but wanting to stay clear of the ongoing tensions with Palestine then this is the place. Throughout the hike are locals willing to give thru-hikers a place to sleep for the night. The Israel National Trail trailheads are Dan in the north and the southernmost tip in Eilat. It is 580-620 miles of hiking through the entire country. Landscapes hikers will pass through range from biblical landscapes to modern day Israel. The trek takes 45-60 days to complete.
(Image Source: Hayduke Trail 2008 | Blogspot)
Hayduke Trail, United States
If you’re looking for a rugged trail then the Hayduke is for you. It is a strenuous, 812 mile hike through some of the roughest terrain in southern Utah and northern Arizona. The elevations range from 1,800 feet in the Grand Canyon (one of The Voyaging’s 11 Places You Must See Before You Die) to 11,419 feet atop Mt. Ellen’s south summit. To further the difficulty, the trails are not signed when there are trails to follow. The trail stops in towns with post offices and general stores which are useful for restocking the necessities.
(Image Source: Flickr | Fresco Tours)
The Way of Saint James via the French Way, Spain
There are different ‘ways’ to walk like Saint James. The French Way is the longest of them all at 472 miles. Trails run along paved roads and frequently run through towns. The routes were walked by Christian pilgrims in the Middle Ages and remain popular to this day. The French Way begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and continues through the Pyrenees while taking in cities like Pamplona and Leon. If you’re on the trail look up–the Milky Way parallels the Way of Saint James.
(Image Source: Flickr | Bureau of Land Management)
Continental Divide Trail, United States
This amazing trail traverses five U.S. states–Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Colorado. It is 3,100 miles long and takes six to seven months to complete. The Continental Divide Trail is one of the three of the “triple crown” trails in the United States. If the mountain lions aren’t enough to keep you from taking that much time off of work then best of luck. This trail isn’t for the beginning thru-hiker.
(Image Source: Bibbulmun Track | Walk the Bibbulmun Track)
Bibbulmun Track, Australia
It seems like everything in Australia wants you in pain…or dead. Australia has more deadly snakes than any other country. Plus, the numerous other venomous critters and dangerous predators make it one frightening country to hike through. But, if you don’t fear the wildlife of Australia then the Bibbulmun Track is for you. It is 623 miles long from Kalamunda to Albany and is named after the indigenous people who still live there. Along the way you will come across snakes and rare creatures such as numbats and poisonous cane toads.
(Image Source: Great Himalaya Trail: Trekking, hiking and walking in Nepal)
Great Himalaya Trail, Nepal
The concept of the Great Himalaya Trail is relatively new but contains an older history in its footpaths. As of now it is a vision that connects the highest routes across the Himalayas. It passes through Kashmir, India, Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. The trail is so new that as of November 2014 only the Nepal and Bhutan sections have been hiked and documented.
(Image Source: Flickr | Jared Kruger)
Pacific Crest Trail, United States
As seen in the new motion picture or read in the bestselling book, Wild, the Pacific Crest Trail offers stunning views of the Sierra Nevada and Cascades mountain ranges. The trail is 2,663 miles long and runs through California, Oregon, and Washington in the United States. It continues on through British Columbia, Canada. The PCT is another of the United States’ ‘triple crown’ trails.
(Image Source: Flickr | Yuefeng D)
Appalachian Trail, United States
The Appalachian Trail is probably the most popular thru-hike trail in the United States. Perhaps even in the world. The trail runs through fourteen states–Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. This is the ultimate of the ‘triple crown’ trails. At 2,200 miles long, hikers typically make the trip from the southernmost point in Georgia to Maine. Roughly 3 to 4 million people hike the Appalachian Trail every year.
(Image Source: Te Araroa – New Zealand’s Trail – Home)
Te Araroa Trail, New Zealand
The 1,864 mile route through New Zealand officially opened in December of 2011. It stretches from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south. The Te Araroa connects townships, cities, and settlements which offer a natural, cultural, and historical look at New Zealand. A thru-hike lasts around 120 days while there are smaller segments of the trail for weekend trips or daily hikes.
(Image Source: Flickr | Dennis Jarvis)
North Country Trail, United States
This is one of the longest National Scenic Trails authorized by Congress. It stretches 4,600 miles from east to west. The trail begins in Crownpoint, New York and runs through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota before finally ending at Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota. As of early 2014, only 2,730 miles have been completed. Efforts are being organized to connect the NCT to the Appalachian Trail.