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Thru-hiking trails

Find your thru-hiking trail

Thru-hiking involves hiking a long-distance trail from end to end within one hiking season. You can also thru-hike a trail by section-hiking it, or hiking it in multiple attempts. This is more popular for the very long trails with easily defined stages, like the Pacific Crest Trail or Via Alpina. Thru-hikes can range from several hundred kilometers to over 2,000 kilometers, depending on the trail. Thru-hikers often spend months on the trail, carrying all their essential gear, and resupplying food and other necessities along the way. It’s an immersive experience that requires extensive planning, physical preparation, and mental resilience.

Best thru-hiking trails


Thru-hiking culture

Thru-hiking culture is known for its strong sense of camaraderie and a shared spirit of adventure. Thru-hikers often form “trail families” (or “tramilies”) along the way, supporting each other through the challenges and celebrating milestones together. The culture emphasizes minimalism, self-reliance, and respect for nature.

Trail names are a unique aspect of thru-hiking culture. Hikers often adopt or are given nicknames that reflect their personality, hiking style, or a memorable incident on the trail. These names become an integral part of their trail identity.

For thru-hikes that are mostly remote, resupply points and trail towns play a crucial role in the thru-hiking experience. Resupply towns are especially popular in the United States and New Zealand, where hikers can rest, replenish their supplies, and connect with the local community. Many towns along popular trails are very hiker-friendly, offering amenities and services tailored to the needs of long-distance hikers.

Popular thru-hiking trails

The Appalachian Trail (AT) is over 3,536km from Georgia to Maine in the United States. The AT is one of the most iconic long-distance trails in the world. It traverses 14 states, offering diverse landscapes from the southern Appalachians to the rugged terrain of New England. The trail is well-marked and supported by a network of shelters and hostels.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is 4,270km across the United States from Mexico to Canada, and takes you through breathtaking scenery, including deserts, the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascade Range. The trail has varied climates and ecosystems, making it a challenging but rewarding journey.

The third major thru-hike in the United States is the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). This trail runs approximately 4,873km along the Continental Divide, from Mexico to Canada. It passes through five states: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The CDT is the most remote and rugged of the major U.S. long-distance trails, offering a true wilderness experience with fewer established facilities. This, combined with the PCT and the AT, make up the legendary “triple crown” of thru-hikes in the United States.

Te Araroa, meaning “The Long Pathway,” is a thru-hike in New Zealand that stretches about 3,000km from the northern tip of New Zealand’s North Island to the southern tip of the South Island. This trail offers diverse landscapes, including beaches, forests, mountains, and urban areas. It’s a cultural journey as much as a physical one, allowing hikers to experience the unique Maori culture and New Zealand’s natural beauty.

Unlike the wilderness-focused trails in the U.S., the Camino de Santiago is a network of pilgrimage routes leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. The most popular route, the Camino Francés, is about 800km long and passes through picturesque villages, historic cities, and beautiful countryside. The Camino is known for its strong sense of community among hikers, or “pilgrims.”

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