How Long Does It Take To Hike The Vermont Long Trail?

Nestled amidst the rugged beauty of Vermont’s Green Mountains, the Long Trail beckons adventurers seeking an immersive journey through pristine wilderness. Spanning 272 miles from the Massachusetts border to the Canadian border, this historic trail offers hikers a chance to traverse some of New England’s most scenic landscapes. Established in 1930, the Long Trail holds the distinction of being the oldest long-distance trail in the United States, weaving through dense forests, over dramatic peaks, and past tranquil streams.

Hiking the Long Trail isn’t just about covering miles; it’s a profound experience of solitude and connection with nature. As you lace up your boots and set foot on the trail, you enter a realm where each step brings you closer to the essence of Vermont’s wilderness. Whether you’re drawn by the challenge of its rugged terrain, the allure of panoramic vistas from its highest peaks, or the opportunity to disconnect from the bustle of daily life, the Long Trail promises a transformative adventure.

Throughout its course, the trail offers diverse experiences—from the popular southern sections shared with the Appalachian Trail, bustling with fellow hikers, to the remote northern stretches where solitude reigns supreme. Each segment of the trail presents unique challenges and rewards, from navigating steep ascents to reveling in the vibrant hues of fall foliage. Embarking on the Long Trail is not just about conquering a physical challenge but embracing a journey that nurtures the spirit and leaves an indelible mark on those who traverse its path.

Introduction to the Long Trail

Thru Hiking Vermont: The Long Trail — Kate the wild

The Vermont Long Trail stands as a testament to America’s rich tradition of outdoor exploration and conservation. Spanning 272 miles along the spine of the Green Mountains, this historic trail offers hikers a profound journey through some of Vermont’s most pristine wilderness areas. Established in 1930 by the Green Mountain Club, the Long Trail predates even the famed Appalachian Trail, earning its place as the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the United States.

A Journey Through Time and Nature

Walking the Long Trail is more than a physical challenge; it’s a journey through time and nature. As you traverse its length, you’ll tread paths that have borne witness to centuries of natural evolution and human stewardship. The trail winds through dense forests, over rugged peaks, and across babbling brooks, each section offering a glimpse into Vermont’s diverse ecosystems and geological history.

Rich in Natural Beauty

From the southern terminus near the Massachusetts border to its northern end in Jay State Forest, near Canada, the Long Trail showcases Vermont’s natural beauty in its purest form. Hikers encounter sweeping vistas from high alpine summits, serene stretches of hardwood forests adorned with vibrant fall foliage, and tranquil meadows teeming with wildflowers in the spring. Each season paints a unique portrait along the trail, from the lush greens of summer to the fiery hues of autumn and the pristine whites of winter.

Connecting with Wilderness

Hiking the Long Trail is a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of modern life and reconnect with the wilderness. The trail’s remote stretches offer solitude and serenity, allowing hikers to immerse themselves fully in the sights, sounds, and scents of nature. Whether you’re drawn to the challenge of conquering rugged terrain or seeking solace in the quiet beauty of a mountain vista, the Long Trail promises a deeply personal and enriching outdoor experience.

A Legacy of Conservation and Adventure

Beyond its natural allure, the Long Trail embodies a legacy of conservation and adventure. It was conceived during a time when preserving wilderness areas and promoting outdoor recreation were gaining momentum in America. Today, the trail continues to be maintained and protected by dedicated volunteers and organizations like the Green Mountain Club, ensuring future generations can enjoy its wonders.

Planning Your Long Trail Adventure

Long Trail - Trail Finder

Duration and Mileage

How Long Does it Take to Hike the Long Trail?

Planning the duration of your Long Trail hike depends on several factors, including your hiking pace, fitness level, and whether you’re aiming for a thru-hike or a section hike. Thru-hiking the entire 272-mile trail typically takes between 20 to 30 days, with hikers covering an average of 9 to 13.5 miles per day. This range allows flexibility to adjust daily mileage based on terrain difficulty, weather conditions, and personal preferences for rest and exploration.

Best Time to Hike

Choosing the Ideal Season

Selecting the best time to hike the Long Trail is crucial for an enjoyable and safe experience. Late summer to early fall (August to October) is generally recommended for thru-hikes, offering cooler temperatures, fewer bugs, and stunning fall foliage. Spring (April to June) can be muddy due to snowmelt and is also the season when sections of the trail may be closed to protect fragile ecosystems. Winter hiking on the Long Trail is challenging and not recommended for inexperienced hikers due to snow accumulation and freezing temperatures.

Permits and Logistics

Navigating Permit Requirements

Unlike some other popular long-distance trails, the Long Trail does not require permits for thru-hiking or section hiking. This simplicity in permitting allows hikers more flexibility in planning their journey without bureaucratic hurdles. However, it’s essential to research and prepare for other logistics, such as resupply points, transportation to trailheads, and emergency protocols. Familiarizing yourself with local regulations and trail conditions ensures a smooth and enjoyable adventure on the Long Trail.

Gear and Equipment

Essential Gear Checklist

Packing the right gear is essential for a successful Long Trail hike. Lightweight yet durable equipment, including a sturdy backpack, quality hiking boots, waterproof clothing layers, and a reliable tent or shelter, will provide comfort and protection from unpredictable weather conditions. Other essential items include a navigation device (such as a GPS or compass), a first-aid kit, ample food supplies, and a water filtration system to ensure safe hydration throughout your hike.

Training and Preparation

Physical and Mental Preparation

Preparing for the physical demands of hiking the Long Trail involves building endurance through cardio exercises like hiking, running, or cycling, as well as strength training to support carrying a backpack over varied terrain. Mental preparation is equally important, focusing on resilience, navigation skills, and the ability to adapt to changing weather and trail conditions. Practicing mindfulness and stress management techniques can enhance your ability to enjoy the journey and overcome challenges along the way.

Personal Experience on the Long Trail

Thru-Hiking the Long Trail with Three Kids - Green Mountain Club

Embracing Solitude and Serenity

Hiking the Long Trail offers a profound opportunity to immerse oneself in solitude and serenity amidst Vermont’s stunning wilderness. As you step onto the trail, you leave behind the noise and distractions of everyday life, entering a realm where the rhythm of your footsteps and the rustling of leaves become your companions. The trail’s remote sections provide moments of introspection and connection with nature, offering a chance to recharge mentally and spiritually.

Challenges and Triumphs

Navigating the Long Trail presents a series of physical and mental challenges that test your endurance and resilience. From steep ascents over rocky terrain to navigating through muddy sections and enduring unpredictable weather patterns, each day brings new obstacles to overcome. Overcoming these challenges fosters a sense of accomplishment and self-discovery, reinforcing your strength and determination to push forward, mile by mile.

Connecting with Nature’s Rhythms

Living on the trail means embracing the ebb and flow of nature’s rhythms. Waking with the sunrise, hiking through lush forests alive with birdsong, and witnessing breathtaking sunsets from mountain summits become part of your daily routine. Each day unfolds with its own unique beauty and surprises, from encountering wildlife like moose and deer to marveling at the vibrant colors of autumn foliage painting the landscape.

Community and Camaraderie

While the Long Trail offers solitude, it also fosters a sense of community among fellow hikers. Trail towns along the route provide opportunities to restock supplies, enjoy a hot meal, and connect with locals who share stories and tips about the trail. Encounters with other thru-hikers create bonds forged through shared experiences and mutual respect, offering camaraderie and support during both challenging and celebratory moments on the journey.

Reflection and Growth

Hiking the Long Trail is not just a physical adventure but a journey of self-discovery and personal growth. The solitude and simplicity of trail life strip away distractions, allowing you to reflect on life’s priorities, goals, and values. Whether you’re seeking clarity on career decisions, healing from personal challenges, or simply embracing a love for the outdoors, the Long Trail provides a transformative experience that leaves a lasting impact long after the journey’s end.

Recommendations and Tips for Future Hikers

Long Trail Hike | What Floats Our Boat

Plan Ahead, but Stay Flexible

Research Trail Conditions: Before starting your hike, gather up-to-date information on trail conditions, weather forecasts, and any trail closures or advisories. Websites like the Green Mountain Club’s official site and trail forums can provide valuable insights from recent hikers.

Resupply Strategy: Plan your resupply points strategically to ensure you have enough food and supplies without carrying unnecessary weight. Trail towns like Manchester Center, Waitsfield, and Johnson offer convenient access to groceries, restaurants, and post offices for mailing resupply packages.

Gear Essentials

Lightweight Gear: Invest in lightweight and durable gear suited for long-distance hiking. Quality hiking boots, a lightweight tent or shelter, a warm sleeping bag, and a reliable water filtration system are essential. Pack clothing layers for varying weather conditions, including rain gear and warm layers for chilly nights.

Navigation Tools: Carry reliable navigation tools such as a map, compass, and GPS device or smartphone app with offline maps. Familiarize yourself with the trail’s white blazes marking the path and be prepared to navigate through diverse terrain, including rocky ascents and muddy sections.

Physical Preparation

Build Endurance: Train physically by hiking with a loaded backpack to build endurance and prepare your body for the demands of long-distance hiking. Incorporate cardio exercises like hiking, running, or cycling, as well as strength training to strengthen muscles used for hiking.

Mindful Hiking: Practice mindfulness and mental resilience to stay positive and focused during challenging sections of the trail. Embrace the journey with an open mind, allowing yourself to appreciate the beauty of nature and the sense of accomplishment with each milestone.

Safety and Well-being

Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water from reliable sources along the trail. Carry enough food to fuel your body for sustained energy, including high-calorie snacks and meals that are easy to prepare and pack.

Emergency Preparedness: Be prepared for emergencies with a first-aid kit, emergency shelter, and knowledge of basic wilderness first-aid skills. Share your hiking itinerary with a trusted contact and check in regularly when possible, especially during solo hikes.

Leave No Trace

Environmental Stewardship: Practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Pack out all trash, avoid disturbing wildlife, and camp in designated areas to preserve the natural beauty of the Long Trail for future hikers.

Enjoy the Journey

Embrace the Experience: Hiking the Long Trail is not just about reaching the end but savoring the journey and the connections made along the way. Take time to appreciate the solitude, natural beauty, and sense of accomplishment that comes with each step on this historic trail.

Connect with the Community: Engage with fellow hikers and local communities along the trail to share stories, tips, and experiences. Trail towns offer opportunities to rest, recharge, and connect with the vibrant hiking community that supports the Long Trail’s legacy.

FAQs About Hiking the Vermont Long Trail

1. How long does it take to hike the Vermont Long Trail? Hiking the entire Vermont Long Trail typically takes between 20 to 30 days, depending on your pace and hiking experience. Some hikers complete it faster, while others take more time to savor the journey.

2. What is the best time of year to hike the Vermont Long Trail? The best time to hike the Vermont Long Trail is typically from late summer to early fall (late August to early October). This period offers milder temperatures, fewer bugs, and stunning fall foliage. Spring can be muddy, and winter conditions are challenging.

3. Do I need permits to hike the Vermont Long Trail? No permits are required to hike the Vermont Long Trail, whether for a day hike, section hike, or thru-hike. However, certain camping areas managed by the Green Mountain Club may have specific regulations or fees during peak season.

4. What should I pack for hiking the Vermont Long Trail? Essential items include a lightweight tent or shelter, warm sleeping bag, sturdy hiking boots, layers of clothing for varying weather, a water filtration system, trail maps, and navigation tools. Pack high-energy snacks and meals that are easy to prepare on the trail.

5. Are there resupply points along the Vermont Long Trail? Yes, there are several trail towns and road crossings along the Vermont Long Trail where you can resupply on food, gear, and other necessities. Popular resupply points include Manchester Center, Waitsfield, and Johnson.


Hiking the Vermont Long Trail was not merely a physical accomplishment but a transformative experience. It offered insights into perseverance, natural beauty, and the spirit of exploration. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or embarking on your first thru-hike, the Long Trail promises an unforgettable adventure through Vermont’s picturesque landscapes.

Through careful planning, appreciation for nature, and a spirit of adventure, hiking the Long Trail becomes more than a hike; it becomes a personal odyssey through one of America’s most cherished outdoor destinations.