I love to hike! In fact I love hiking so much a few years ago I went on a 2,180 mile (3,508 km) 5-month long hike on something called the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is just one of many long-distance hiking trails around the world that attracts hikers like myself who like to be out in nature a lot. I wanted to introduce you to some of these trails today as well as four different ways to say “walking for a long distance”.
Hiking, backpacking, trekking, and tramping are four different ways to talk about going for a long walk. Hiking, backpacking, tramping, and trekking all usually involve carrying food, clothing and shelter on your back in a backpack and walking for an extended period of time. Hiking is sometimes used to describe more casual walks, but can be used to talk about months long journeys in the wilderness. Backpacking usually describes a walk taken with a backpack (in which you store your personal items), where the person intends to spend the night (or multiple nights) sleeping away from home. Trekking is sometimes used to describe more difficult journeys. Tramping is a long distance walk as well. The word tramping is very commonly used in New Zealand and Australia instead of the word hiking.
So, now lets talk about some trails…
The Appalachian Trail, or simply the AT, is a hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between the states of Georgia and Maine. The exact length of the trail changes over time as the trail is modified, but the total length now is approximately 2,200 miles (3,500 km). The trail was first proposed in 1921 and completed in 1971. If you hike this trail from beginning to end you will walk through 13 American states.
The Pacific Crest Trail, commonly abbreviated as the PCT, is a long-distance hiking and horse trail that starts in the desert at the Mexican-California border and travels through the high mountains of the west coast of the United States, to the Washington state-Canadian border. The trail only goes through three US states, but it is 2,663 miles (4,286 km) long. Before the PCT became an official long-distance hiking trial in 1968 it was a route used to transport material on horseback.
Te Araroa is New Zealand’s newly completed (finished in 2011) long-distance trail that extends from the southern town of Bluff to the northernmost point in the country at Cape Reinga. The trail is divided into approximately 300 sections ranging from hikes of 1–2 hours to up to 9-day routes. It takes multiple months to hike the whole trail. Although the straight line distance from Cape Reinga to Bluff is 1475 km, the Te Araroa Trail covers a distance of 1860 miles (3000 km).
The Israel National Trail is a hiking path that crosses the entire country of Israel from the trail’s northern end in Dan near the Lebanese border to the southern end in Eilat on the Red Sea. The total length of this twisty-turny trail is between 580-620 miles (over 1,000 km). The Israel National Trail officially opened in 1994.
El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James is a famous trek that originated as an important Christian pilgrimage during medieval times. The trek starts in points throughout southern Europe with people walking to northern Spain (where St. James is believed to have been buried) in Santiago de Compostela. There is no specific length for this trek, because people can start anywhere in France, Italy, Spain, etc., but all those walking on the trek are walking in the direction of Santiago de Compostela.
Do you know of any other long-distance hiking trails? There are many more out there. Later this week I will have a post about hiking or tramping gear, in case you have been inspired by reading this post and want to get out do some backpacking yourself.