All of these long distance trails of the Americas provide a challenging hiking adventure. You want to do your research before tackling any of them. Some such as the Inca, Chilkoot and West Coast trails can only handle a limited number of hikers at one time requiring a level of experience. These three hikes must be hiked in their entirety each taking about a week. Others such as the Pacific Crest, Appalachian and Trans Canada are generally hiked in sections although there are thru hikers.
Seven Best Long Distance Trails of the Americas
One of the most famous of long distance trails of the Americas, first created in 1923, is about 2,165 miles (3,505 km) long from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine along the Appalachian Mountains. Over 96 percent of the route is on government owned land. There are also over 250 shelters along the trail for the convenience of thru hikers. An excellent resource is How to Hike the A.T.: The Nitty-Gritty Details of a Long-Distance Trek
Pacific Crest Trail
More rugged than the Appalachian and at higher attitudes the Pacific Crest Trail is a 2,655 miles (4,272 km) long distance trail that runs from Canada to Mexico crossing the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. It avoids civilization preferring instead scenic and pristine mountainous terrain with few roads. There are sections of unbroken wilderness and other desert sections in the Mojave with no water sources.
West Coast Trail
One of the Canadian long distance trails of the Americas. First established in 1907 the trail follows the rugged coastline of Vancouver Island. Although the trail is only 46 miles (75 km) in length you will require 5 – 7 days to hike the distance. Along the way you will be hiking across sandy beaches, caves, tidal pools, waterfalls and a coastal rainforest.
Another favorite of the long distance trails of the Americas is the Inca Trail, Cusco & Machu Picchu Inca Trail follows a route in Peru in the Andres mountains to the lost city of Machu Picchu. On arrival in Cuzco you will require about two days to get acclimatized to the high elevation before embarking on your four day hike. Breathtaking, the ruins of this hillside city overlook the rainforest and a tributary of the Amazon. Some of the guides use a flute to play traditional songs at Machu Picchu adding to the scene.
Trans Canada Trail
With a variety of terrain and at a length of 13,359 miles (21,500 km), the Trans Canada Trail is not only one of the newest long distance trails of the Americas, it is the world’s longest recreational trail. This recreational trail visits all ten Canadian provinces and all three territories running from the Atlantic to the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. It is about 70% complete.
Continental Divide Trail
This long distance hiking trail follows the crest of the Continental divide for 3,100 miles (5,000 km) from Canada to Mexico. It is about 70% complete.
In the late 1890’s gold was discovered and the Klondike Gold Rush sent thousands of people north to the new found riches of the Yukon. The North West Mounted Policy required everyone carry one year’s provisions so they hiked heavily loaded up the trail from Skagway, Alaska to Lake Bennett, Yukon Territory.
Today this historic route provides a challenging although not lengthy hiking experience. For fascinating information on this trail read Chilkoot Pass: The Most Famous Trail in the North
These seven hikes offer history and wilderness and can be considered the best long distance trails of the Americas.