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Itching for a long thru-hike that rivals the Appalachian Trail but not excited to deal with the crowds? Better plan to take 4 to 6 months off to hike the Great Eastern Trail once it’s completed.
The Great Eastern Trail (GET) will wind its way from the middle-of-nowhere in Alabama to the Finger Lakes of New York, crossing 1,600 miles through 9 states just west of the Appalachian Trail. On the way, you’ll cross Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park (home of the famed Barkley Marathons), hike the entire 252-mile Tuscarora Trail, stumble over the rocky terrain of Pennsylvania, and top some of New York’s most famous peaks
The Great Eastern Trail Association has completed over 70% of the trail since 2007, relying on volunteers to build connecting trails Fittingly, Earl Shaffer, commonly believed to be the first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, was the first person to hit on the idea of building the GET, but the first thru-hike of the GET, by Jo Swanson and Bart Houck, didn’t occur until 2013
The GET will provide a much-needed alternative to the Appalachian Trail, which faces over-use and high traffic from accommodating over 1,000 thru-hikers a year and thousands more section- and day-hikers. Plus, with months and months of great scenery that’s only been thru-hiked by a handful of people so far? We don’t need much convincing to pack our bags and hit the trail.
Hike the Great Eastern Trail
Pennsylvania has 400+ miles of completed GET trail, more than any other state. Take 4-7 days to hike the state’s 84-mile Standing Stone Trail, which has become a part of the GET. You’ll follow stunning ridgelines and the climb the famed Thousand Steps section which has, you guessed it, more than a thousand stone steps that climb up the mountain. The northern terminus begins at Greenwood Forest State Park and ends at a junction with the Tuscarora Trail in Buchanan State Forest near Cowans Gap State Park; overnight camping permits vary along the route.