Planning for the Long Trail
Sunday, July 2, 2017 1:39 pm

While I knew since last September that I was going to be thru-hiking the Long Trail this summer, I didn’t actually begin looking into Long Trail logistics until January, when I ordered copies of the Long Trail End-To-Enders guide and a topographical trail map from the Green Mountain Club, the stewards and maintainers of the Long Trail (and also the Appalachian Trail in Vermont). In comparison to my six-week lead time for the Appalachian Trail, I’ll have been “planning” for my Long Trail hike for either six or ten months, depending on how you want to count.

In late January, using the Long Trail End-to-Enders guide, I put together a daily hike plan, which would have me complete the trail in 20 days. A month or so later, I decided I wanted this hike to be a ”vacation”, and not have many long days: I wanted to allow for more time to take side trails and generally not be rushed about.

Accordingly, I created a second plan, extending my hike to 23 days. With the Long Trail being 272.7 miles, this would allow for only two days with more than 15 miles of hiking, with the longest day being 16 miles. Compared to my AT thru-hike, it’ll be a proverbial walk in the park. Which will be nice, since I’ve long since lost my trail legs.

Of course, that only includes hiking on the Long Trail itself. There’s a few side trails I’ll be hiking as well.

Peak Bagging

Where there are mountains, there are people who climb to the summit, just to do so. So naturally, there are lists of mountains meeting certain criteria, and hikers who attempt to summit each mountain on those lists (usually over an extended period of time).

The Northeast United States has several such lists. In particular is the “New England Hundred Highest”, a list of the one hundred highest peaks in New England. The Appalachian Trail climbs over 29 of those summits (sixteen in the Whites; eleven in Maine, including Katahdin; and two more in Vermont), and passes near a dozen more.

Vermont has a total of 14 peaks on the NEHH list. The Long Trail passes over eight of them, and three more are accessible via side trails. Of the remaining three, one, Equinox Mountain, is accessible from Manchester Center, where I have a planned resupply and overnight at a hostel. This resulted in a third plan, compressing the hike to get to Manchester Center by a day, allowing me to take a “zero” to summit Equinox without extending my hike beyond the 23 days of my second plan.


In my “Hiking and Hacking” talk I’ve now given twice, I liken fully planing the itinerary for a long-distance hike to a fool’s errand. And while this is certainly true for a six-month traverse of the Appalachian Trail, it’s a lot easier to do for a three week hike on the Long Trail, since the time window is shorter and there are fewer things that can go wrong.

The longest plan I had on the AT was 17 days, from Rangeley, Maine, to Katahdin, so this 23 day plan shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. It also helps that I have 2200 miles of long-distance hiking experience under my belt, and in particular, I’ve already hiked the southern 105 miles of the Long Trail, so know exactly what to expect there. (This is why I’m able to throw in the Equinox hike without much concern.) The somewhat casual pace also provides flexibility: I can go faster if I need to without overly exerting myself.

Not Long To Go

In any case, it won’t be long before I’m back on the trail, and I’m looking forward to the sights I’ll see, and the people I’ll meet!