The US is a great place to experience some pretty awesome extreme trails. Use this mode of discovery to encounter history and interact with the beauty of this changing landscape. No matter which direction you travel, there is a trail to help you find your way. If the weather is right and you are up for a challenge, grab a friend with hiking experience and check out these extreme trails. Warning - these are not for the faint of heart.
1. Eastern Continental Trail
The ECT reigns supreme among US long-distance extreme trails. Experienced hikers consider its 5,400 miles a strenuous walk. Begin in northwest Prince Edward Island and end 450 days later in the Florida Keys. This trail will take you through numerous states, including Georgia, Maryland and New York. The ECT is a mega trek so bring a few experienced hiking buddies with you.
2. North Country Trail
The differences between a strenuous walk like the ECT and a moderate walk like the North Country Trail include numerous grade and elevation changes. The NCT has fewer extreme changes. This trail covers 4,600 miles over 410 days. Travel southwest from Crown Point in New York to Ohio, then westward to the finish line at Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota.
3. American Discovery Trail
The American Discovery Trail is a 4,971-mile moderate walk across twelve states in the American heartland. Begin at Cape Henlopen State Park in Delaware and end at Point Reyes National Seashore in California! In addition to planning, determination and a hiking buddy, you will also need good camping equipment and four hundred days. Experience everything from mountains and farmland to palm trees!
4. Great Western Trail
The beautiful terrain of the Great Western Trail spans 4,455 miles over 350 days. Start the trail at either the Arizona/Mexico or Montana/Canada border. Travel across Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah and Arizona, through many and national forests and endless breathtaking landscapes. As part of this trail is exclusive to foot and horse traffic across desert landscapes, it is imperative that you pack plenty of fluids.
5. Continental Divide Trail
Trail experts at Traildino.com consider the Continental Divide Trail (the orange trail line on the map) a difficult walk. A friend walked the CDT several years ago and, despite the "difficult" designation, raves about it! This 3,100-mile trail requires 300 days and at least one hiking buddy. Begin your journey in northwestern Montana or southern New Mexico. Choose your start time wisely! You do not want to get stuck in the southwest in summer or in the Colorado Mountains in winter.
6. East Coast Greenway
Begin your ECG journey at either Key West, Florida, or Calais, Maine. Estimated at nearly 3,000 miles and 250 days, this easy walk trail will take you over thousands of miles of mountains and eastern coastline. Check out lighthouses, seafood and beaches along the way. I love mountains and green space. The East Coast Greenway is a good hike to experience both.
7. Pacific Crest Trail
Although at 2,654 miles this trail is the shortest of our seven, the Pacific Crest Trail is considered a strenuous walk. You need about 250 days to travel the entire length. The journey is long but lots of planning and good company will make it a great experience. Start in northwest Washington state, travel through Oregon and across California to end at the California/Mexico border.
Long hikes can soothe the soul but extreme trails are an entity unto themselves. These trails are not for the novice to try alone. Even the experienced hiker takes a hiking buddy along the trail. Whatever you decide, use caution. Have you ever traveled over a long distance trail?