So you’re considering a thru-hike along the Long Trail? Thru-hiking consists of traversing the LT’s 272 miles in one go; comparatively, an end-to-end hike could be finished in one stretch, in sections, or in several day hikes. An end-to-end hike could also take several years.
For thru-hikers, there’s specific preparation you’ll want to explore, and we’re here to get you started. Keep reading for more on completing the nation’s oldest footpath.
When is the Best Time to Thru-Hike?
- April through late May is still mud season. If you plan to start early, be aware that the trails will be wet and muddy, and there is hiker etiquette that you should follow to keep the trails in shape.
- In early June, there could still be snow on the ridgelines. Plan to have Microspikes and other winter preparations.
- Late June and July have less risk of dry water sources. Be warned, however, that it is black fly season — and they bite.
- Late summer and early fall are ideal times. You’ll avoid the flies, the crowds, and the heat.
- If hiking in late autumn, there is a higher chance of snow. Snow appears at higher elevations as early as October, and can last through mid-June. It’s imperative to be prepared for these icy, cold conditions.
How Long Does it Take to Thru-Hike the Long Trail?
- Average: 20-30 days
- The Vermont terrain is rugged and each hiker has different abilities and goals. As the saying goes, “hike your own hike.” Knowing how much daily mileage you can cover and how much time you plan to spend in town will help you plan your hike.
- Don’t forget to review Trail Updates for reroutes, shelter closures, and more when planning and hiking.
What Should I Pack for my Thru-Hike?
- Start with these 10 essentials and weather considerations.
- Then, join our online hiking community for suggestions on gear and planning. Join the Long Trail Hiking Group on Facebook.
- You’ll also want trail maps. We suggest starting with the Long Trail Guide, the Long Trail Map, and the End-to-Ender’s Guide.
How and When do I Resupply?
- Resupplying in towns is relatively easy, as you’ll reach a road or trailhead several times a week. You can arrange a shuttle or resupply drop around these points.
- To jumpstart your grocery list, check out these 18 recipe suggestions.
- To learn from previous thru-hikers, check out our End-to-Ender Panel.
- For a list of transportation options — including public, commercial, and private listings — check out the End-to-Ender’s Guide. You can also email the Visitor Center for a list of private shuttle drivers.
- Please note, as of 2023, leaving cached food or unattended “trail magic” is not permitted in the Green Mountain National Forest. Even if stored securely, unattended food items raises concerns around bear activity and improperly disposed waste.
What Sorts of Permits do I Need?
- No permit is required to hike the Long Trail.
- As of the 2023 hiking season, there is no fee to camp at any site on the Long Trail (in previous years $5 was charged at certain sites staffed with a caretaker). Learn more about overnight sites here.
- There is a food storage mandate in the Green Mountain National Forest. This means, you must use bear-proof storage. This includes using installed bear boxes (see locations listed here), a portable bear canister or Ursack, or a proper bear bag hang.
Where can I Find More Resources?
- New to backpacking? Check out our Backpacking 101 video.
- We interviewed former End-to-Enders for their advice. Find it here in Part I and Part II.
- Unfamiliar with Vermont’s backcountry? Read more about overnight sites, wildlife, and hiker etiquette.
- Folks who menstruate typically have more to consider in terms of backcountry hygiene. Get started with our guide on periods, peeing, and hygiene in the woods.
How do I Certify my Accomplishment?
- We’re so glad you asked! Complete the certification application online or mail in a paper form. More on End-to-End certification here.
- End-to-Enders receive a certificate, an End-to-End rocker patch, a GMC logo patch, and your name listed in the next Long Trail News!
- First-time members will also receive a complimentary, one-year GMC membership.
- End-to-End applications are processed twice yearly. More info here.