Alternative Trails

Wandering off the Beaten Path: Less Traveled Long Distance Trails in the Appalachian Mountains

“Are you looking for a new adventure? . . . Been itching to return to long-distance hiking… anxious for something a bit more challenging” (Jenkins). Try wandering off the beaten path in the Appalachian Mountains.  The Appalachian Mountains in North America, range from the southern foothills in Alabama north into Labrador and Newfoundland. They are identifiable through 18 states and 5 Canadian provinces. All this territory and yet it may come as a surprise to many that the Appalachian National Scenic Trail (AT) is not the only long-distance trail available to hike in the system.

As long-distance hiking becomes more and more popular trails like the AT see more hikers, to the point of overuse. People wishing to get away from it all may want to consider a less traveled path.  Some of these less traveled trails interlink more than once with the AT and so can provide the bonus of a loop hike. Other trails connecting to the AT can offer an AT thru hiker the opportunity to continue hiking well beyond Katahdin. Shorter trails present the prospect of thru-hiking a trail without needing to quit one’s job for 6 months. Hiking one of the shorter trails can also serve as a shakedown in preparation for a potential longer distance hike. This critical preparation not only helps hikers make great gear decisions but will help them to discover if they even would enjoy a 6 month hike.

Most of the trails are more remote than the AT and offer less in the way of hiker amenities or hostels. Scott Jenkins writes of his experience thru hiking the Tuscarora Trail, one of the trails listed below: “The experience was just what I was seeking, rugged, remote, and isolated, this trail presented physical challenges and provided rewarding views.” What will your experience be?

Below is a spread sheet of trails that are over 100 miles in length in the Appalachian Chain.
Citations: Scott Jenkins, Considering the Tuscarora Trail. ALDHA Blaze, September 2020 vol 21

Trail Name Links to AT Miles States
Allegheny yes 311 VA,WV
American Discovery Tr yes 6,800 DE->CA
Appalachian High Route yes 350 NC
Baker Tr no 132 PA
Bartram Tr no 153 NC, GA
Benton McKaye Tr yes 300 NC, GA
Buckeye Tr no 1,444 OH
Cohos Tr yes 165 NH
Confederation Tr no 279 PEI Canada
Cumberland Tr yes 330 TN
East Coast Tr no 165 NF. CA
East Coast Greenway no 3000 FL-ME
Empire State no 750 NY
Finger Lakes Tr no 557 NY,PA
Florida Tr no 1300 Fl
Great Eastern Tr yes 1600 AL → NY
Horse Shoe Tr yes 140 PA
International AT yes 1900 ME, CA (NB → NF)
Long Path yes 358 NY
Long Trail yes 272 VT
Mason-Dixon Tr yes 193 MD, DE, PA
Mountain to Sea Tr yes 1175 NC
New England Tr no 215 CT, MA, NH
North Country Tr not yet 4700 ND→ VT
Northville-Placid Tr no 138 NY
Palmetto Tr no 500 SC
Paumanok Path no 125 NY
PA Mid State Tr yes 327 PA
Pinhoti Tr no 335 AL, GA
Potomac Heritage Tr yes 830 PA, MD, DC, VA
Shelowtee Trace no 282 KY, TN
The Great Trail no 16700 NL-BC CA.
Trail of Tears   5045 NC-OK
Tuscarora yes 252 VA, WV, MD, PA


Comments are closed.