If you’re curious about the Long Trail or planning a thru-hike, learn from folks who have completed an end-to-end hike on the Long Trail. Panelists shared advice with the hiking community based on their recent experiences on the Long Trail. Check out attendees’ questions below — about technology, training, pacing, transportation needs, solo hiking, and weather and trail conditions — answered by panelists and GMC staff.
Be sure to also:
- Watch the recording of the 2021 End-to-Ender Panel
- Check out the Q&A Part 1 for questions on gear, footwear, food, shelter, wildlife safety, and hiking with dogs.
What is the earliest the trail is open? It depends on snow conditions of the winter, the weather of spring, whether the trail faces north/south, and the elevation of the trail. Right now, southern Vermont, low elevation is near hiking season. Northern Vermont is still very snowy with over two feet of snow or full mud conditions. Green Mountain Club advises to wait until Memorial Day Weekend for any high-elevation training hikes. Hiking recommendations that are appropriate for mud season here.
How much did each of you train or prepare fitness wise before the hike? Depends on how you want to tackle your hike. If you want to go into the hike and start with medium – small miles and then pick it up while you get your trail legs, then just a bit of running and a bit of hiking with a pack. No serious training. If you want to go hard immediately, then I would walk every or every other day for at least 2-3 hours with a pack for the weeks leading up to the trail. I did the former option.
Pace & Timing
Did you take 0 days? Is it realistic to hike the trail in ~3 weeks? It is possible, but definitely a bit on the faster side. I took two zero days. I have averaged about 14-15 a day on all the non-zero days, and I finished in just barely over 3 weeks (counting the zero days). So it’s possible! Bit tough.
How many days did it take each of the panelists? I think it took most of us 20-23 ish days.
I’m planning a September thru-hike – probably SOBO – and I wondered if I should have any concerns about hunting season. You shouldn’t be super concerned. I hiked during hunting season and didn’t see anything. Have blaze orange visible from front and back — big banana or blaze hat. Here are tips for hunting season.
Can you avoid hitching into town to pick up mail drops? You can. There are shuttles and shuttle services who you can use. Green Mountain Club can help get you the list of shuttle services.
How far do you have to hike off trail in general to get to resupply in towns? I didn’t do this, but from what I heard from other hikers it’s about maybe 5 miles max? Not entirely sure but around there. Sometimes 3 miles, sometimes 5 depending on the town.
Is there somewhere we could park our car for 3 weeks near the southern terminus? Yes! The Greylock Community Center. Or you can find a place in Bennington and take the Green Mountain Express down to Williamstown.
Technology & Other Resources
People are referencing phones and apps. Did you carry solar chargers or…? Invest in a really great portable charger. The one I used had five full charges which can last me a bit more than a full week if my phone is on airplane mode and I use the apps a lot. Charge up when you go into town!
What brand portable charger did you have? I have used multiple. 26800mAB is the amount I have in my chargers usually though. That’s totally enough. You can just search up 26800 on Amazon and you can find that.
I’m interested in lightening my pack, so very interested in more feedback on heavy items that you thought you’d absolutely need, but didn’t (already nixed reading books). Honestly, I nixed my battery pack after the first section. I didn’t need it after 5 days and it seemed to weigh almost as much as my sleep set-up. Airplane mode and off kept my phone alive most of the time.
What cell phone service tends to be the best? All depends, the trail is up and down the state.
Do you think that Guthook (or similar app) is the best way to access water sources? Guthook Guides is great for finding water supplies. Highly recommend that app!
What’s the best weather app? I used my default iPhone one. Worked pretty well!
Terrain & Elements
Are there any major water crossings to be aware of? Nope!
What was the worst weather you experienced during your hike? IT POURED HARD some days. I was hiking during a tropical storm. That’s the worst it will get though. Only hard rain. I hate the rain, so sometimes I woke up 3am to hike. I would just check the weather and try so hard to hike anytime it was not raining. Not too difficult.
Are there are any sections you think would be better to avoid in the rain if possible (from a safety standpoint)? Certain sections of Mansfield and Camel’s Hump can get slippery. And above treeline navigating in rain and wind can be challenging, let alone unpleasant.
I’m very interested to hear tips for solo thru hiking! Conversations with yourself keep you going. Try and meet people on trail that go about the same pace as you, and meeting them at shelters and talking with them are always pick me ups! Also, when you get the chance to talk to day hikers, do it!
Any tips for solo female hikers? Trust your gut! Most people are nice and friendly, and happy to chat. And make sure someone knows generally where you will be (let family back home know where you expect to be and check in when you get to town).
Do you need to register to do the LT? Or can you just go to a terminus and then start in? Just start! Although, as. a safety measure, always good to write your name in the trailhead registries as you go.
What’s the best way to log my hike so my thru-hike gets certified? The certification process is pretty simple. I did not log too much. I actually only found out about the certification after I was on trail. Just keep a trail journal honestly and fill out the application when you finish the trail. Application is pretty basic stuff like start date end date and pictures.