The Longest Hiking Trail in the United States

The United States is a big place! From coast to coast, there are some truly beautiful places to see and visit. Hiking is one of the oldest ways to experience the natural beauty of an area, and the United States has plenty to see. Today, we are going to look at some of the longest hiking trails here in the United States, plus check out a few others!

What is the longest hiking trail in the United States?

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian Trail has a caveat that makes it especially unique.

The longest hiking trail in the United States is either the American Discovery Trail, the Great Western Loop, or the Appalachian Trail, but it depends on how you ask the question!

The longest trail in the United States is a tie between the American Discovery Trail and the Great Western Loop, but many people also include the Appalachian Trail, despite it being shorter than the others. The first two trails are a whopping 6,800 miles long and are among the most expansive trails in the entire world. The Appalachian Trail, however, has a caveat that makes it especially unique.

The American Discovery Trail is a transnational trail that begins in Delaware on the East Coast and ends in California. As funny as it sounds, this trail literally spans from sea to shining sea! Aside from the oceans it starts and ends at, the American Discovery Trail goes through 15 states, 16 national forests, 14 national parks, and 10,000 sites of historical importance. Additionally, the trail connects a network of urban centers and wildlife regions.

The Great Western Loop is a 6,800-mile trail, just like the American Discovery Trail. Instead of spanning the entire country, however, the Loop heads through 9 separate states. It begins in New Mexico, passes through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and ends in Arizona. This massive trail heads through two deserts (Mojave and Sonoran), 12 national parks, and 75 wilderness areas.

The longest hiking-only trail

The Appalachian Trail is only 2,174 miles, but it has a caveat that many consider being important. While the other trails on the list are significantly longer than the App Trail, the App Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the United States. The other two are longer, but they cross roads and highways, barring them from being hiking only. The App Trail is an unbroken trail that never crosses roads or highways and doesn’t allow for biking or horseback riding.

What is the difference between a hiking trail and a regular trail?

The Longest Hiking Trail in the United States

Appalachian Trail is exclusively a hiking-only trail.

Depending on how you ask the question, the answer for “longest trail in the US” can vary. We’ve looked at three options, each with its own claim to be number one. Let’s take a look at the difference between a trail, a hiking trail, and a hiking-only trail.

A trail, in regards to the outdoor hobby associated with it, is a path created with the intent of travel. National parks, local parks, and even private residences often have trails that people can traverse. Often, these trails can be alongside roads, wilderness areas, or a variety of other places. “Trail” is a broad term and could be just a footpath, although larger trails can be biked, driven, or even traversed via horse. Trails that are only suitable for foot traffic are considered “hiking-only” trails.

Both the American Discovery Trail and the Great American Loop include roadways, differentiating them from most “hiking-only” trails. The official Discovery Trail website explains:

The ADT is a new breed of long-distance trail—part city, part small town, part forest, part mountains, part desert—and the variety of trail surfaces you’ll encounter reflect that. About a third of the ADT is single-track trail. Another third goes through greenways, parks, rail-trail conversions, and open spaces, where the surface may be dirt, asphalt, crushed stone, etc. The last third is on roads, primarily country roads, both paved and unpaved, with light traffic, including farm vehicles, etc., but in some instances city sidewalks and highways.

Discovery Trail

In contrast, the Appalachian Trail’s official website explains:

The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, ranging from Maine to Georgia.

Appalachian Trail

What is the longest hiking trail in the world?

Trans-Canada trail signboard

The Trans-Canada Trail is the longest hiking trail in the entire world.

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The longest trail in the world is the Trans-Canada Trail (The Great Trail). The Trans-Canada Trail is significantly longer than any other trail in the world, measuring 16,777 total miles. The trail spans from the Atlantic coast on St. John’s Newfoundland, traverses the entire country, and ends at Tuktoyaktuk, an Inuit settlement in the far Arctic north.

When were the longest trails in the United States completed?

The American Discovery Trail was conceived in 1989. It was first completed on August 18th, 2003, by Joyce and Peter Cottrell.

The Great Western Loop is a combination of trails, much like the American Discovery Trail. As a result, there isn’t a clear “formation” date, but rather the first time it was officially hiked. Andrew Skurka was the first person to complete the hike, finishing it on November 24th, 2018.

The Appalachian Trail is a bit clearer in regards to the founding because it had to be physically created. The Trail was conceived in 1921 and completed in 1937.

Best National Parks to Visit in July - North Cascades National Park

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Colby Maxwell

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he isn’t distracted by his backyard birdfeeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him about what he’s recently learned. There’s a whole world to learn about and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much as he can about it!

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

What Is The Longest Hiking Trail In North America?

what is the longest hiking trail in north america

There are 14 states from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. Although it’s not the oldest or longest US long-distance footpath, the Appalachian Trail is considered the granddaddy of them all. It’s also one of the most popular hiking trails in the United States, with more than 1.5 million people hiking it each year. The trailhead is located near the town of White Sulphur Springs, Georgia.

From there, you can take a shuttle bus to the trail head, which is about an hour and a half from Atlanta. You can also rent a car for the trip, but be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. If you’re planning to hike the entire trail in one day, make sure you have enough time to do so, as it can be very strenuous on the legs and back.

Table of Contents

Is the Appalachian Trail the longest hiking trail in the US?

There are 14 states from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is considered to be one of the most beautiful and challenging hiking trails in the world.

The trail begins in Georgia at the Georgia-South Carolina border and winds its way through the Carolinas, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia before ending in Maine.

The trail is open to hikers of all ages and skill levels, but it is best suited for experienced hikers and those with a good amount of hiking experience.

What are the three longest hiking trails in the US?

The Pacific Crest Trail is one of the three major long-distance hikes in the United States. You can earn the title of a thru-hiker if you complete all three hikes. How to Get Started on a Long-Distance Hike: How to Choose the Right Trail for Your Needs and Goals .

Is the Pacific Crest trail longer than the Appalachian Trail?

The AT takes five to seven months to complete its 2,190 miles, while the PCT takes four to six months to complete 2,650 miles of trail. The most obvious factor, terrain, shows that the AT is more challenging than the other. If you’re looking for a trail that will take you to the top of Mt.

Rainier, you’ll find it in the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The trail is mostly flat, but there are a few sections of steep, rocky terrain. The AT, on the other hand, is much steeper and has a much longer, more rugged trail, which is why it’s often referred to as the “trail of death.”

The two trails are separated by the Columbia River Gorge, so you can’t get to either trail without crossing the river. In fact, if you don’t have a car, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to make it to both trails in one day, let alone in two days.

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What is the oldest hiking trail in America?

Crawford Path is the oldest continuously used and maintained recreation trail in America and was built in 1819. Its appeal is due to the fact that its ridgeline travels through the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Crawford Path has been designated as a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of Interior.

Which trail is longest in the Triple Crown of hiking?

The Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are the three longest trails in the United States and are included in the Triple Crown. The PCT is the longest trail in North America, with an average elevation gain of over 2,000 feet.

It is also one of the most popular hiking routes in America. The trail starts in Maine and travels through the state of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New York before ending at the Canadian border in Quebec, Canada.

Which trail of the Triple Crown is longest?

The Continental Divide Trail isn’t the longest trail in the Triple Crown Series. You can experience the wonders of the American West in a whole new way, with an estimated 3,100 miles linking amazing National Parks.

What are the big three hiking?

The Big Three gear pieces of any backpacking adventure are your shelter, sleeping system and backpack. If the combined weight of those three pieces of gear is more than 12 pounds, you could be in trouble. If you weigh less than 10 pounds, however, there’s no need to worry about your gear weighing you down. In fact, it’s a good idea to keep your pack weight as low as possible.

This is especially true if you plan to spend a lot of time in the backcountry, where you’ll want to be able to carry as much gear as you can comfortably carry.

For this reason, I recommend that you carry a minimum of two pairs of pants and a pair of socks, along with a few layers of clothing, such as a down jacket, long-sleeved shirt, and long pants, in addition to your tent, sleeping bag and other gear.

You’ll also want a light-weight sleeping pad or two, as well as an extra set of clothes for when you get out of the tent and into the cold, wet world outside.

What is the hardest section of the PCT?

Section K is the most challenging section of the trail in Washington. Section K is the longest section of trail in the park, with a total elevation gain of more than 3,000 feet. It is also the steepest section. The trail begins at an elevation of 2,500 feet, then drops to 1,800 feet before climbing back up to its original elevation.

At the top of this section, hikers will have to scramble up and over a number of boulders and switchbacks to reach the summit of Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain in North America. This section is not for the faint of heart, but it is well worth the effort for those who are willing to push themselves to the limits of their physical and mental endurance.

Does the PCT go through Death Valley?

Death Valley National Park does not have a direct connection to the Pacific Crest Trail. You can fly to Las Vegas and then take a bus to the park from the airport. There are a number of ways to get there. The easiest way is to fly from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), which is about an hour and a half away.

There is also a direct flight from San Francisco International airport (SFO) that will take you there in about 30 minutes. You can also take an Amtrak train from New York City to LAX, which takes about 45 minutes and costs about $60 round trip.

The Longest Hiking Trail in the United States

The United States is a big place! From coast to coast, there are some truly beautiful places to see and visit. Hiking is one of the oldest ways to experience the natural beauty of an area, and the United States has plenty to see. Today, we are going to look at some of the longest hiking trails here in the United States, plus check out a few others!

What is the longest hiking trail in the United States?

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The Appalachian Trail has a caveat that makes it especially unique.

The longest hiking trail in the United States is either the American Discovery Trail, the Great Western Loop, or the Appalachian Trail, but it depends on how you ask the question!

The longest trail in the United States is a tie between the American Discovery Trail and the Great Western Loop, but many people also include the Appalachian Trail, despite it being shorter than the others. The first two trails are a whopping 6,800 miles long and are among the most expansive trails in the entire world. The Appalachian Trail, however, has a caveat that makes it especially unique.

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The American Discovery Trail is a transnational trail that begins in Delaware on the East Coast and ends in California. As funny as it sounds, this trail literally spans from sea to shining sea! Aside from the oceans it starts and ends at, the American Discovery Trail goes through 15 states, 16 national forests, 14 national parks, and 10,000 sites of historical importance. Additionally, the trail connects a network of urban centers and wildlife regions.

The Great Western Loop is a 6,800-mile trail, just like the American Discovery Trail. Instead of spanning the entire country, however, the Loop heads through 9 separate states. It begins in New Mexico, passes through Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and ends in Arizona. This massive trail heads through two deserts (Mojave and Sonoran), 12 national parks, and 75 wilderness areas.

The longest hiking-only trail

The Appalachian Trail is only 2,174 miles, but it has a caveat that many consider being important. While the other trails on the list are significantly longer than the App Trail, the App Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the United States. The other two are longer, but they cross roads and highways, barring them from being hiking only. The App Trail is an unbroken trail that never crosses roads or highways and doesn’t allow for biking or horseback riding.

What is the difference between a hiking trail and a regular trail?

The Longest Hiking Trail in the United States

Appalachian Trail is exclusively a hiking-only trail.

Depending on how you ask the question, the answer for “longest trail in the US” can vary. We’ve looked at three options, each with its own claim to be number one. Let’s take a look at the difference between a trail, a hiking trail, and a hiking-only trail.

A trail, in regards to the outdoor hobby associated with it, is a path created with the intent of travel. National parks, local parks, and even private residences often have trails that people can traverse. Often, these trails can be alongside roads, wilderness areas, or a variety of other places. “Trail” is a broad term and could be just a footpath, although larger trails can be biked, driven, or even traversed via horse. Trails that are only suitable for foot traffic are considered “hiking-only” trails.

Both the American Discovery Trail and the Great American Loop include roadways, differentiating them from most “hiking-only” trails. The official Discovery Trail website explains:

The ADT is a new breed of long-distance trail—part city, part small town, part forest, part mountains, part desert—and the variety of trail surfaces you’ll encounter reflect that. About a third of the ADT is single-track trail. Another third goes through greenways, parks, rail-trail conversions, and open spaces, where the surface may be dirt, asphalt, crushed stone, etc. The last third is on roads, primarily country roads, both paved and unpaved, with light traffic, including farm vehicles, etc., but in some instances city sidewalks and highways.

Discovery Trail

In contrast, the Appalachian Trail’s official website explains:

The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, ranging from Maine to Georgia.

Appalachian Trail

What is the longest hiking trail in the world?

Trans-Canada trail signboard

The Trans-Canada Trail is the longest hiking trail in the entire world.

The longest trail in the world is the Trans-Canada Trail (The Great Trail). The Trans-Canada Trail is significantly longer than any other trail in the world, measuring 16,777 total miles. The trail spans from the Atlantic coast on St. John’s Newfoundland, traverses the entire country, and ends at Tuktoyaktuk, an Inuit settlement in the far Arctic north.

When were the longest trails in the United States completed?

The American Discovery Trail was conceived in 1989. It was first completed on August 18th, 2003, by Joyce and Peter Cottrell.

The Great Western Loop is a combination of trails, much like the American Discovery Trail. As a result, there isn’t a clear “formation” date, but rather the first time it was officially hiked. Andrew Skurka was the first person to complete the hike, finishing it on November 24th, 2018.

The Appalachian Trail is a bit clearer in regards to the founding because it had to be physically created. The Trail was conceived in 1921 and completed in 1937.

Best National Parks to Visit in July - North Cascades National Park

Andrew Bertino/Shutterstock.com Share this post on:

Colby Maxwell

Colby is a freelance writer from Charlotte, North Carolina. When he isn’t distracted by his backyard birdfeeder, you can find him camping, exploring, and telling everyone around him about what he’s recently learned. There’s a whole world to learn about and Colby is content to spend his life learning as much as he can about it!

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

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