There’s nothing quite as healing for the soul as hiking through mountains, valleys, and forests. Hard work and rough on the legs, but peaceful nonetheless. The Long Trail (LT) has all of those terrains in spades. End-to-end, LT is 272 miles long and spans the length of Vermont from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border. One is curious how long it will take to thru-hike this exquisite trail.
It takes 19 to 30 days to thru-hike the Long Trail. Many hikers slow their pace to spend extra time at certain stops to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. The weather also plays a part in the time it takes to hike the route as it is a very rainy area. Wet ground and rain slow the pace.
The Long Trail was developed between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club. The trail winds its way through lush woodland areas, over mountain peaks with spectacular views of the Green Mountains, and even into arctic tundra at times. The Long Trail is known for its untouched nature, dramatic height changes, and the trail over Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak.
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How Long Does It Take To Thru-Hike The Long Trail?
If hikers walk the Long Trail end-to-end in one trip, it generally takes them around 19 days. That means that they are hiking an average of 14+ miles a day. However, it isn’t necessary to cover this amount of distance every day. Some hikers take up to 30 days to complete the route.
The idea of “hiking your own hike” is excellent advice. Unless you’re on a schedule, it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend extra time in nature without wearing yourself out because of a deadline. Hiking at your own pace will allow you to enjoy the whole experience of hiking this incredible trail.
Planning How Long Your Long Trail Thru-Hike Will Take
When planning your hike through the LT, there are some factors you should take into account to figure out the length of time you will be on the trail.
You need to know how much ground you can realistically cover in a day. Not everybody is capable of hiking 14 miles a day. You should work on your own hiking capacity to calculate how much time you need to complete the trail, rather than other hikers’ average distances and times.
When planning your itinerary, it is also essential to know how much time you plan to spend in the nearby towns. Consider your reasons for heading into town, and make sure you allocate enough time for these errands and the time it will take to get there and back onto the trailhead.
It is also necessary to check for updates regarding shelter closures, reroutes, and other changes when planning your trip and before embarking on the hike. These can be found here.
Inclement weather and perpetual mud are two other factors that can slow a hiker’s pace down. If possible, factor in a few extra days to make up for lost time or simply to rest and enjoy the scenery a bit more. You will definitely be hiking in the rain a few times, if not very often, on the Long Trail, so keep this in mind when you plan how long you will hike the LT.
Resupplying On The Long Trail
The Long Trail doesn’t pass through too many towns, but it is close enough to a few for resupplying not to be an issue. You will reach roads and trailheads a few times a week. This means that you could manage with only carrying 2-3 days’ food with you. The less weight you carry, the easier it is to hike this rugged trail.
You will need to find transport from the trailheads into town when you need to replenish your groceries and other items. You can try to hitchhike, but you should do it on a major road with a busy traffic flow for safety’s sake. Another option is to send food to accommodation ahead of time and ask them to keep it for you. Some places also boast public transport.
Going into town and off the trail to replenish food supplies may add to the length of time you will be on the Long Trail, so you must factor this in when you’re planning your trip. If you’re willing to carry up to 7 days of food in your backpack, you won’t have to stop too often.
Sleeping In Shelters When Thru-Hiking The Long Trail
The Green Mountain Club maintains almost 70 primitive shelters and cabins along the path for camping, which are strategically positioned so that you can walk from one to the next in a single day. That means you’ll be able to camp in shelters from Massachusetts to Canada, which is really convenient!
Of course, you’ll still need camping gear, especially if you’re thru-hiking, but the shelters will give you a dry spot to sleep if you encounter bad weather on your journey. Snowmelt and rain may make the Long Trail very muddy, so a dry camping spot is a must.
It’s a good plan to study the maps and End-To-End Guide to plan where you’re going to stop for the night, and these shelters are ideal spots. It beats sleeping under a tarp or in a tent in the mud or rain.
The Best Times To Thru-Hike The Long Trail
Vermont is affectionately nicknamed “Vermud.” Mud will always be an issue on the Long Trail, but consider these factors when you book your hike.
- It is still mud season from April until the end of May. The paths will be muddy and wet, and there is a certain etiquette required to maintain the trails for those coming behind you.
- Some snow could still remain on the ridgelines at the beginning of June. You would need Microspikes and other winter equipment.
- During late June and July, chances are much higher that you won’t have to deal with dry water sources, but it is the season of the vicious little black flies.
- The best time to hike the Long Trail is late summer to early fall. You will be free from the crowds, the flies, and the heat.
- In late fall, there is more chance of snow. There can be snow on the higher peaks from early October, and it can last until mid-June. Preparation for icy conditions is crucial.
The Routes On The Long Trail
The path begins on the Massachusetts border and runs for 100 miles along the Appalachian Trail. The routes split at the Maine Junction in Killington, Vermont. The Long Trail covers most of the major peaks in the Green Mountain range, including Killington Peak, Mount Mansfield, and Camel’s Hump. It reaches its northern endpoint at the Canadian border, close to North Troy, VT.
Hikers often debate whether it is better to tackle the route from the south or from the north. Many hikers believe that it’s best to start in the south to acclimate, get your trail legs up, and be more ready to take on the challenging northern section. After the first 100 miles, the terrain becomes rougher and more remote.
Those words may bring a picture of wood sprites flitting through the trees when you hear them, but there is a tradition along the Long Trail where people who live nearby, or perhaps even other hikers, leave treats along the way for thru-hikers, usually consisting of food or cold beer. What a great tradition!
It can take between 19 and 30 days to thru-hike the Long Trail in Vermont. It takes careful planning to know precisely how long it will take for you. It’s terrific if your time for the hike is open-ended because you can spend as much time as you like going from beginning to end. If you have the opportunity to do this hike, pack your bag and boots and go. You won’t regret it.