When I decided to expand from day hikes to backpacking and going on long distance trails, the next logical step was to decide where. Living in Albany, New York, there were plenty of lengthy trails nearby to choose from. The Long Path, Northville-Placid Trail, even the Finger Lakes Trail are right in my own state. Yet after much research, a multitude of factors tipped the scales to make the Green Mountain State’s pride the best choice for my maiden trek.
It’s the oldest long distance trail in the United States. That held a certain appeal to me. I am fascinated by the things of old. The pyramids, ancient trees, even historical buildings and artifacts. The oldest of the trails? No brainer.
Easy bail outs. Because the first half or so of the Long Trail is shared by the Appalachian Trail, it seems that “civilization” is but a short walk off the trail. With my lack of experience on long hikes and overnights in the woods, having that quick escape if necessary is a prudent choice.
Trees. Lots and lots of trees. Having grown up in the northeast, I am used to seeing pines, hemlocks, and birch trees everywhere. On my day hikes in the Catskills and Adirondacks, I find great calm and joy being surrounded by the trees and fallen leaves. Compared to the Southwest, where I expect to find sagebrush and cacti, which have their own enjoyment and appeal, the beautiful greens of home will provide a comfort to me that will be appreciated on that first trek.
Water, water, everywhere. It’s been written that to find water on the Long Trail, one only needs to look down. Some people report that rain is a near constant (as is mud), while others claim that to be exaggerated yet agree it is a wet trail with frequent water sources. I carry a hydration bladder and three ways to purify water. Gaining experience with plentiful supplies will be most appreciated before I venture to the more difficult routes just as the John Muir or Arizona Trails.
The high peaks. One of my goals on my bucket list is the Northeast 111, that is, the peaks above 4000 feet in New York and New England. All five of Vermont’s 4000+ footers are on the Long Trail. My plan is to hike northbound, taking the first half of the trail on my first attempt, then going back another time to complete the trek. The five high peaks are in that northern, or second, half. My goal is that my body will be in better shape to achieve that feat when the time comes to face that second part in the future.
Population. Unlike some trails where it is easy to go days without seeing another human being, because the southern part of the Long Trail is also part of the Appalachian Trail, it is a popular route with many hikers. As a solo hiker, there is a comfort in knowing that if something were to happen and I was not able to activate my personal locator beacon, someone would eventually come back and be able to provide assistance.
This post was contributed by Bren Miller. She is a middle-aged woman who lives with cats and takes care of her disabled brother. She discovered hiking last year and can’t get enough of it, despite her slow going due to her weight and lack of physical prowess. Her joys in life are my cats, my writing, and hiking. 🙂