Friday, January 14, 2011

50 Trails in 50 States

Section 13 View

This past spring as I was completing my hike of the Superior Hiking Trail in northern Minnesota I got an idea about an official long trail for each of our 50 United States. The criteria for each state's trail is that it is long enough to backpack (several days of travel), it is contained mostly within the one state which it represents, it is used primarily for hiking/backpacking, and it is not a segment of a longer trail.

Some of my decisions for an "official" state long-distance hiking trail were relatively easy in that the trail's name is derived from the state in which it is located. Some good examples of these would be the Florida and Colorado Trails. Other decisions were easy because the trails chosen were iconic trails in the long distance hiking community. Some examples of these iconic trails would be Vermont's Long Trail and Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail.

Choosing a representative trail for some states, however, was very difficult because it seems that there are few long hiking trails located within the state or the long trails in the state travel a long distance in other states. Delaware is an example of a state I had a difficult time making a decision about, along with New Mexico. Anyway I've finished a draft of the list and have included it here. If there are any readers with information about better trail choices for my list I would be happy to hear about them. I've also included a link to each trail's official website if one is available.

1.   Alaska: Chilkoot Trail
2.   Alabama: Pinhot Trail 
3.   Arizona: Arizona Trail
4.   Arkansas: Ozark Highlands Trail  
5.   California: John Muir Trail
6.   Colorado: Colorado Trail
7.   Connecticut: Metacomet Trail
8.   Delaware: Brandywine Trail
9.   Florida: Florida Trail
10. Georgia: Bartram Trail
11. Hawaii: A Loop in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
12. Idaho: Idaho's Centennial Trail
13. Illinois: River to River Trail
14. Indiana: Knobstone Trail
15. Iowa: The Backpack Trail in Yellow River State Forest
16. Kansas: Perry Lake Trail
17. Kentucky: Sheltowee Trace
18. Louisiana: Wild Azalea Trail
19. Maine: Grafton Loop Trail
20. Maryland: Catoctin Trail
21. Massachusetts: Mid-State Trail
22. Michigan: Waterloo-Pinckney Trail
23. Minnesota: Superior Hiking Trail
24. Mississippi: Black Creek Trail
25. Missouri: Ozark Trail
26. Montana: Chinese Wall Loop
27. Nebraska: Pine Ridge Trail
28. Nevada: Tahoe Rim Trail
29. New Hampshire: Cohos Trail
30. New Jersey: Batona Trail
31. New Mexico: Loop in Pecos Wilderness
32. New York: Long Path
33. North Carolina: Mountains-to-Sea Trail
34. North Dakota: Maah Daah Hey Trail
35. Ohio: Buckeye Trail
36. Oklahoma: Ouachita Trail
37. Oregon: Timberline Trail
38. Pennsylvania: Mid-State Trail
39. Rhode Island: North-South Trail
40. South Carolina: Foothills Trail
41. South Dakota: Centennial Trail
42. Tennessee: Cumberland Trail
43. Texas: Lone Star Trail
44. Utah: Bonneville Shoreline Trail
45. Vermont: Long Trail
46. Virginia: Massanutten Trail
47. Washington: Wonderland Trail
48. West Virginia: Allegheny Trail
49. Wisconsin: Ice Age Trail
50. Wyoming: Teton Crest Trail

For the most part I am very happy with this list. There are a few hikes I am not completely sold on though. Among them are the Teton Crest Trail for Wyoming and the Chinese Wall Loop in Montana. While I'm sure both these hikes offer spectacular scenery, I feel like there must be some longer options for these two states. There are also a few which I feel don't really meet my listed criteria because they contain long distances in other states. An example of this would be the Ouachita Trail which traverses not only Oklahoma, but also Arkansas. Finally I would like a more detailed hike for Hawaii and New Mexico.


Still Wandering said...

Hmm What about something in the Gila of NM? Personally, I do agree with the Teton Crest for WY - it's unreal!!!! The Howard Eaton Trail covers allllllll of YNP too, that'd be cool, but there are some gaps. Cool list!

Chris said...

There's a trail that goes north-south through the Wind River Range in Wyoming. I think its 50 miles and its called the Highline Trail.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, the Bartram trail is primarily within NC (though the GA sections are very nice). The Duncan Ridge Trail is purely within GA. (It links with Benton McKaye & AT to form an excellent triangle hike.) There are also excellent GA backpacking trails in the Cohutta Wilderness.

Also, there are many wonderful long-hikes possible within Glacier NP. The Northern Circle/Highline is among the best in the world.

In Utah, consider the excellent Uinta Highline, or something in Zions (Kolob-WestRim) instead of the nasty Bonneville.

Teton Crest or Wind River traverse are both classics for WY.