The Long Trail is a popular hiking route that travels the length of Vermont, USA, and finishes at the Canadian border near North Troy.
Managed by the Green Mountain Club, the Long Trail is the oldest long distance footpath in the country, having been in operation since 1910.
At 439 kilometres, this ‘trek to Canada’ it presents a challenge for those who want to hike from one end to the other. However, it can be hikes in shorter, manageable sections.
Crossing some of the highest peaks in Vermont, this trail has outstanding natural beauty and abundant flora and wildlife.
- Hardwood forests
- Alpine hiking
- Rugged backcountry
- Views of snow-capped mountain peaks
- Sense of achievement for completing a through-hike!
Beginning in Williamstown on the border of Vermont and Massachusetts, this long distance trek stretches for 439 kilometres through rugged natural habitats. The end of the trail is at the Canadian border, close to the town of North Troy.
This trail joins the Appalachian Trail for the first 160 kilometres and becomes more remote the further north it goes.
Killington Peak, Camel’s Hump, and Mount Mansfield are some of the high peaks along the trail, with Mount Mansfield being the highest at 1339 metres elevation.
The variety of terrain makes this a route that both seasoned hikers and beginners will enjoy. For those who are not used to multi-day hiking, there is plenty of opportunity to do day hikes or explore some side trails.
There are small towns along the route where you can get food supplies. This means you only have to carry enough food for a few days, before finding somewhere to replenish.
Water is plentiful. There are many rivers and streams, but water must be purified before drinking.
Williamstown is well served by public transport, so getting to the southern trailhead is fairly easy.
In the rural areas of Northern Vermont, public transport is more difficult to obtain. To get transport from the trailhead, it is best to book it in advance. Many tour operators run a shuttle service.
To get to Williamstown by air, the nearest international airport is Albany, a distance of 66 kilometres.
The Long route is 439 kilometres/272 miles in length. If you are planning to walk the Long Trail end-to-end, allow 20-30 days to complete the route.
Grade and difficulty of the walk
The Long Trail is graded 3-4/5.
Physically, as long as you are of average fitness and used to trekking, the terrain shouldn’t pose too much of a problem. The first third of the trail is the easiest. Most of the climbing comes from the mid part of the trail onwards.
Underfoot, the trail can often be muddy and rocky. There are some steep climbs, so if you have trouble with your knees you may consider using hiking poles.
As well as having the stamina for hours of daily hiking, you will also need to be able to carry food and camping supplies to keep you going for a few days.
The route is well-marked with white signs, sometimes painted on rocks, although care should be taken at intersections as sometimes paint may be faded.
Some experience of multiday trekking is a good idea before you attempt to hike the Long Trail from start to finish.
If you haven’t done a multiday trek before, spend some time on other trails to help get your body ready for the demands of daily hiking and camping.
You don’t need to have navigational skills as the trail is mostly well-marked, but it is useful just in case signs are missing or faded. Always carry a map with you when hiking in remote areas.
Being prepared is key to a successful hike. Pack light, but well. Take layers of light clothing and a waterproof. Be ready for all sorts of weather!
No permits are required to hike the Long Trail.
Guided or Self-Guided
There are options for both guided and self-guided hikes along the trail.
Many tour companies offer guided tours of the different sections. The benefit of this is that you can hike and camp with a group of people, and the weight of camping gear can be spread out between the group.
If you prefer to complete a hike under your own steam, opt for self-guided and choose your own itinerary.
The Long Trial cam be hiked all year round, and each season brings its own beauty and challenges.
Spring brings a burst of new growth, but this is when the trail is at its muddiest.
Summer is when the trail is at its busiest. Temperatures are warm, making it pleasant to camp out overnight. Blackflies can be a nuisance in early to mid-summer.
Autumn brings a colourful landscape. The later you hike in autumn, the more chance of snow.
Winter sees ice and snow on the trail. Unless you are used to snow camping in cold conditions, day hikes may be preferable.
Apart from summer, you may see snow at higher elevations during the other seasons.
A typical itinerary would be:
The Long Trail can be marked in six sections. With camping stops at frequent intervals along the route, you can set your own itinerary per section.
Or, if you want to choose a day hike, or shorter multiday hike, these suggested sections have transportation is accessible at either end.
Public transport may not always be available, although there are companies that provide shuttles.
Williamstown to Bennington – 23 kilometres
Bennington to Manchester Centre – 64.5 kilometres
Manchester Centre to Killington – 80 kilometres
Killington to Appalachian Gap – 95 kilometres
Appalachian Gap to Smuggler’s Notch – 73 kilometres
Smuggler’s Notch to Journey’s End, North Troy – 104 kilometres
There are approximately 70 campsites along this route where you will be able to pitch a tent. Some have three-sided shelters and huts.
Camping places are roughly situated every 12-16 kilometres along the trail.
There are small towns and settlements off the trail at various places.
You will be able to find and book other types of accommodation, such as small hotels and guesthouses, if you want a night off the trail.
You may have to hike side tracks to reach settlements.
Allow for rest days!
If you are hiking the Long Trail from start to finish, you are going to feel the effects of 20 days straight hiking.
Having rest days allows you to recover and enjoy your surroundings, or you might plan a side trip.
Spend some time exploring the small towns near the trail. Rest and have plenty to eat before continuing with your hike.
Take in the sweeping views of the Vermont mountains as you climb the peaks on this trail.
Soak up the beauty of the forests and alpine environments. Wildlife to look for include birds of prey, moose and black bears.
|Skills Required||Hiking, Walking|
|Difficulty||3/5 - 4/5|
|Starts at||Williamstown, MA 01267, USA|
|Finishes at||Joureny’s End, North Troy, 05859|
|Length of route||439 Km|
|Average time to complete||20 - 30 Days|
|Possible to complete sub-sections||Yes|
|Highest point||1339 metres|
|Equipment needed||Camping equipment, Poles if preferred, Trekking gear, walking boots, Water Supplies|
|Countries visited||United States|