For the next 10 weeks, we will be sharing our favorite thru-hikes from across the country. If you, your troop, or your family has contemplated the adventure of a long-distance thru-hike, consider these 10 scenic destinations.

In this series, trails vary in length from 22 miles to 3,100 miles. And although thru-hikers generally attempt the entire length of the trail, its up to you whether you choose to hike the entire trail or just a few miles. Either way, you will experience the best sights the country has to offer. And hopefully, you will gain an understanding of why so many people choose to spend days, weeks, and months on the trail.

What is Thru Hiking?

Generally, a thru-hike, is an established end-to-end long-distance backpacking trip, completed within one calendar year. Thru-hiking long-distance trails is an incredible way for backpackers to test their mental and physical limits, as well as their ability to pack efficiently and effectively.

There are many legendary thru-hikes in the country, like the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail, for example. Completing these, or other long-distance hikes, may seem like an impossible dream, but if you can put one foot in front of the other, day after day, the dream is utterly attainable.

As the popularity of these trails has soared, alternatives have evolved. For many people it’s just not possible to commit more than five months to a thru-hike. Purists might say that the alternatives listed below aren’t true “thru-hikes,” but the definition of the term is hardly set in stone. Thru-hiking is ultimately about challenging yourself: How you define that challenge is up to you.

Alternative Options to Thru-Hiking

Pick a shorter trail: A trail like the Superior Hiking Trail meanders more than 300 miles along Minnesota’s Lake Superior shoreline. Your time commitment is a little less than a month. You can find dozens of similar-length, or shorter, trails around the country.

Section Hiking: In contrast to a “thru-hike”, a “section hike” is done when a hiker completes only a portion of a classic thru-trail. Section hiking is a great strategy to knock off an entire long-distance trail in more manageable segments.

You can learn more about the planning and preparation process of a thru-hike HERE.

Thru-Hike #1: The Appalachian Trail

In a series about the nation’s best thru-hikes, it seems obvious to start with what is possibly the country’s most well-known hiking destination — the Appalachian Trail.

Read the first article in the series here:

Have a favorite thru-hike you’ve attempted? Share your experience, photos, and tips in the comments below. You could be featured in our series!

And don’t forget to check back each week for the next hike in the series!

Other Posts in this series:

1. Appalachian Trail
6. Ice Age Trail
2. Continental Divide Trail7. Tonto Trail
3. Pacific Crest Trail8. Kalalau Trail
4. Resurrection Pass Trail 9. The Long Trail
5. Colorado Trail 10. Superior Hiking Trail

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