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Creating a thru-hike-worthy trail ranks as one of the hardest challenges in the outdoors. It takes decades to wrangle government agencies, assemble crews, raise money, and establish an organization to maintain the whole project. It’s a wonder we have any long trails at all. Yet not only do we have long trails, we’ve got a country of them. Of course, there’s the Triple Crown—the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Continental Divide Trail—and dozens more, spanning tens of thousands of miles. Start your search here if you want to hike for six days or six months.
Get Ready for Your First Thru-Hike
Whether it’s 100 or 3,000 miles long, tackling your first-ever true long trail can be an intimidating challenge. Get prepared for it with help from Backpacker’s long-trail resources.
- Train for your attempt with record-setting thru-hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis.
- Get your gear together with packing lists compiled by hikers who have done it.
- Learn to avoid the most common mistakes thru-hikers make.
- Cutting your pack weight is an easy way to make your trip easier on your body. Ultralight columnist Chris Meehan has some ideas.
- Have a question about life on the trail? Liz “Snorkel” Thomas probably has the answer in Ask a Thru-Hiker.
Originally published in 2015; last updated August 2023