Twelve Thru-Hikes That Aren’t the AT, the PCT, or the CDT

While every­one in the adven­ture world has heard of the thru-hikes that make up the cov­et­ed Triple Crown of Hik­ing—the Appalachi­an Trail, the Pacif­ic Crest Trail, and the Con­ti­nen­tal Divide Trail— there is a hand­ful of thru-hik­ing trails across the Unit­ed States that are in need of some atten­tion. Many of the trails are much short­er, some are longer, but each offers a unique chal­lenge, land­scape, and oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­nect with nature.

The Cohos Trail, New Hamp­shire – 165 miles
The Cohos Trail not only offers remote and rus­tic New Hamp­shire scenery, it also serves as a gate­way to an unfor­get­table inter­na­tion­al trail expe­ri­ence. While the 165 miles of the Cohos Trail is a great get­away from the urban respite, if you choose to con­tin­ue your jour­ney to the con­nect­ing Sen­tier Frontal­ier’s trail in Que­bec, you can take your thru-hike across an inter­na­tion­al bor­der. Whether or not you cross bor­ders, or just keep it local, the Cohos Trail offers a hik­ing expe­ri­ence like no other.

The Ozark High­lands Trail, Arkansas – 218+ miles
Fea­tur­ing stream cross­ings, moun­tain vis­tas, swim­ming holes, and even a sec­tion of bush­whack­ing, this trail in north­west Arkansas is the per­fect way to expe­ri­ence some adven­ture. The trail is still grow­ing, which means you can be the first per­son to blaze new paths through the scenic Low­er Buf­fa­lo Wilder­ness. Whether you are going the entire way, or just spend­ing a week­end mean­der­ing the trails, you won’t be dis­ap­point­ed by the Ozark Highlands.

The Long Trail, Ver­mont – 270+ miles
The Long Trail might not be the longest thru-hike in the coun­try, but it is tout­ed as the first long dis­tance trail in Amer­i­ca. Fea­tur­ing 270+ miles of true Ver­mont wilder­ness, the Long Trail would ulti­mate­ly serve as the inspi­ra­tion for the world-famous Appalachi­an Trail, and the two hikes share 100 miles near the south­ern part of the state. Once it splits from the Appalachi­an Trail, the Long Trail becomes a more rugged trail, with­out the foot traf­fic that the A.T. receives, mak­ing this a tough trek through beau­ti­ful wilderness.

The Supe­ri­or Hik­ing Trail, Min­neso­ta – 310 Miles
The Supe­ri­or Hik­ing Trail fol­lows the North Shore of Lake Supe­ri­or for 310 miles, pro­vid­ing hik­ers a trek to and from the area’s largest con­cen­tra­tion of state parks and beau­ti­ful lake shores. Back­coun­try camp­ing is free and allowed only in des­ig­nat­ed sites, but the trail is dot­ted every 5 to 10 miles with acces­si­ble park­ing, mak­ing it an easy trip for day hik­ers as well. The Supe­ri­or Hik­ing Trail is a per­fect back­pack­ing trip for Mid­west­ern­ers and coast-dwellers alike, the beau­ty of Lake Supe­ri­or is reflect­ed in its name, mak­ing this one for the mem­o­ry books.

Ore­gon Coast Trail, Ore­gon – 382 miles
Span­ning south to north along­side Ore­gon’s rugged coast­line, this trail is the per­fect place to lose your­self in the sights, sounds, and smells of the Pacif­ic Ocean. The trail pass­es through numer­ous Ore­gon State Parks and scenic areas, offer­ing some of the most diverse scenery on the West Coast. Most of the trail fol­lows the beach, but every now and then cross­es through shad­ed cor­ri­dors of near­by forests, mak­ing this one of the more mem­o­rable hikes in Oregon.

The Hay­duke Trail, Utah & Ari­zona 800 miles
The Hay­duke Trail winds through­out Utah and Ari­zona and offers hik­ers a quin­tes­sen­tial taste of the region while high­light­ing some of the most dra­mat­ic scenery in the coun­try. At 800 miles, this is no short trek, and after adding in the harsh land­scape of the south­west, it is sure to test even the most expe­ri­enced hik­ers. As you zigzag between water sources in Utah’s five Nation­al Parks, includ­ing the Grand Canyon, you’ll be sure to be stunned by the scenery the South­west is renowned for.

The Ari­zona Trail, Ari­zona – 800+ miles
Con­nect­ing the state from south to north, the Ari­zona Trail has every­thing the “Grand Canyon State” has to offer. With­in the 800+ miles, you can expect to see saguaro cac­ti, big canyon walls, and tes­ta­ments to human his­to­ry, includ­ing the Roo­sevelt Dam. Des­ig­nat­ed as a Nation­al Scenic Trail, this seem­ing­ly straight­for­ward hike through Ari­zona offers has an array of chal­lenges that come with desert envi­ron­ment.  You’ll want to man­age your water and sup­plies appropriately.

The Moun­tains-to-Sea Trail, North Car­oli­na – 1,150 miles
It’s all in the name for the Moun­tains-to-Sea Trail in North Car­oli­na. Extend­ing from the Great Smoky Moun­tains, this trail tra­vers­es through some of the state’s most scenic land­scapes and even­tu­al­ly makes its way to the Out­er Banks, leav­ing hik­ers with last­ing mem­o­ries of the state’s var­ied ter­rain. It’s best to tack­le this demand­ing hike in the fall or spring, each sea­son offer­ing the per­fect escape from harsh tem­per­a­tures and nag­ging insects.

©istockphoto/Joel CarilletPacif­ic North­west Trail, Mon­tana, Ida­ho, Wash­ing­ton – 1,200 miles

Offer­ing yet anoth­er amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty to expe­ri­ence the vast ter­rain that is the Pacif­ic North­west, this trail (not to be mis­tak­en with the Pacif­ic Crest Trail which runs from north to south) spans from Mon­tana to Wash­ing­ton and offers a full dose of north­west scenery. Cross­ing through three Nation­al Parks (Glac­i­er, North Cas­cades, and Olympic), sev­en Nation­al Forests, and a huge num­ber of moun­tain ranges and high alpine envi­ron­ments, the Pacif­ic North­west Trail was specif­i­cal­ly designed as one of the most scenic and awe-inspir­ing hikes in the country.

The Buck­eye Trail, Ohio – 1,444 miles
Not every­one knows that there is a hik­ing trail that cir­cum­nav­i­gates the bor­ders of the state of Ohio, but sure enough, there is. Span­ning an impres­sive 1,444 miles, the Buck­eye Trail is only rivaled in its unique­ness by the his­to­ry it holds with­in the state. Spurred by a 1958 arti­cle in the Colum­bus Dis­patch, a 20-mile trail was cre­at­ed link­ing Lake Erie to Cincin­nati, and the idea caught on through­out the state. Near­ly 60 years lat­er, the Buck­eye Trail has grown to cap­ture the entire state in a cir­cuital track. Even if Ohio isn’t the first state on your buck­et list, this trail is still a must see for any­one look­ing for adventure.

The North Coun­try Trail, North Dako­ta to New York – 4,600+ miles
You can fol­low the blue blazes of the North Coun­try Trail for 4,600 miles as it tra­vers­es the wide and vary­ing land­scape of the north­east­ern Unit­ed States. Span­ning across sev­en states, each with their own unique geo­graph­i­cal land­marks, this hike is one of the most renowned in the coun­try. The dis­tance, plus some seri­ous win­ter weath­er, make this thru-hike a tough one to con­quer in one go. How­ev­er, with hun­dreds of access points in each state, the North Coun­try Trail is the per­fect hike for the back­pack­er or the weekender.

The Amer­i­can Dis­cov­ery Trail, Cal­i­for­nia to Delaware – 6,800 miles
The grand­dad­dy of all thru-hike trails, the Amer­i­can Dis­cov­ery Trail is a coast-to-coast, For­est Gump-esque jour­ney which, if you can fin­ish it, will leave you stunned like no oth­er. Stretch­ing from Cal­i­for­nia to Delaware, the Amer­i­can Dis­cov­ery Trail offers the most var­ied trail ter­rain of any hike in the nation, rang­ing from the High Sier­ras to the Blue Ridge Moun­tains. This hike is not for the faint of heart or some­one short on time—the fastest trek took 231 days—conquer this trail and you’ll earn your­self a spot in the thru-hik­er hall of fame.