Top Ten Long-Distance Trails In the United States

Summer means no school, outdoor activities, and enjoying nature. Activities such as hiking, camping, playing sports, and other sun-soaked activities become the norm for people cooped up inside the rest of the year.

For millennia people have taken to trails to see the wilderness around them. Originally it was for hunting or relocation but as time marched on and civilizations settled, people become more sedentary. The need to walk long distances, or just about anywhere, became culturally obsolete. Today you can live a reasonably fulfilling life without ever leaving your house. At least, some might find that fulfilling.

For the person with a touch of wanderlust in their blood, hiking is still a viable options to see a world otherwise left untouched by modern man. Whether it's a mile-long trail just outside your neighborhood or a 6 month long commitment to cross the country or continent, there are trails to fit your abilities and desires.

Below are the best long-distance trails in the United States - meaning that it must cross through the United States - that are over 1,000 miles in length. While one could argue that a person could keep walking cross-country and call it hiking, for the purpose of this list we are sticking to established trails with origins and terminals.
The Top Ten
1 Great Western Trail

Running from Canada to Mexico and crossing 5 states in the US, this trail passes through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana for a total of 4,455 miles. First thru-hiked in 1988, the trip took 4 and a half months to complete.

2 Appalachian Trail

Perhaps the most well-known of long-distance trails in the US, the Appalachian Trail runs approximately 2,200 miles from Maine to Georgia. First thru-hiked in 1948, the trail is known for it's many hikers and media coverage. Part of the "Triple Crown of Hiking".

This trail made history. This is where you take a walk in the woods.

I know lots of people who have hiked the Appalachian Trail.

3 Pacific Crest Trail

One of the most mountainous and beautiful long-distance hikes in the US, the PCT is 2,663 miles long and runs from Mexico to Canada crossing through 3 US states. Officially completed in 1993, the trail takes between 6 and 8 months to complete. Part of the "Triple Crown of Hiking".

4 Continental Divide Trail

Running for 3100 miles from Canada to Mexico, the Continental Divide Trail crosses 5 US states (Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico) and is one of the least traveled hiking trails. Only about 200 people attempt the trail each year. Part of the "Triple Crown of Hiking".

5 Great Western Loop

This is the granddaddy of all long-distance hikes in the United States. It is a combination of five different hiking trails (Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, and Arizona Trail) and runs a whopping 6,875 miles. The hike has only been successfully completed one time: taking 208 days at an average of 33 miles per day. Do this hike and you'll be remembered in the history books.

6 American Discovery Trail

Running 6,800 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, this trail is the only non-motorized coast-to-coast trail. Passing through 14 national parks and 15 US states, this trail will give you a taste of how early western settlers felt (though none of them went from coast to coast). First thru-hiked in 2005 by a husband and wife team, the trip took almost 8 months to complete.

Absolutely would be an experience to hike on there.

7 Desert Trail

Running from California to Canada, this trail traverses the Mojave Desert, Death Valley, the Black Rock Desert, Pueblo Mountains, Blue Mountains, Columbia Plateau, and Selkirk Mountains. 2,223 miles of desert and mountains will give you some of the most remote and spectacular scenery in the country.

8 Eastern Continental Trail

This trail runs from Key West, Florida to Northern Canada. Hiking this trail in one go takes about a year and makes the Appalachian Trail look short. The trail is 5,400 miles (over double the Appalachian Trail) and has an elevation change of 6,643 ft.

9 Iditarod Trail

You'll have to go to Alaska to hike this trail but it's well worth it. Just over 1,025 miles of Alaskan wilderness awaits those brave enough to attempt the journey. While the exact trail differs year to year with the snow, you'll be a part of history as this is the route of the famous Iditarod dog-sled race.

10 Ice Age Trail

While not all of this trail is completed currently, the actual trail is already planned out to 1,200 miles. Running completely within the state of Wisconsin, the trail follows the terminal moraine (the point of maximum advance of a glacier) of the last Ice Age.

The Contenders
11 Paul Bunyan State Trail
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