How Do I Prepare For Thru Hikes?

I am planning an ambitious 2022 adventure by hiking a total of 6 trails totaling 4000 miles.  How does a hiker plan such a large extravagant trip? It takes a lot of hours studying trails and researching as much info as possible.  However, I have been on enough trips to understand that all the planning will probably go to shit after day one.  But I find it easy to maneuver around obstacles that come up based on the amount of information that I found out while preparing for a hike.   So, what are the things I look into?


I honestly find maps amazing. Details of the surrounding area is fun to peruse.  Who knows, maybe there is a nice attraction nearby that would an awesome spot to see; waterfalls, overlooks, peak bagging to name a few? Apps are my main source of travel,  GaiaGPS and FarOut are my favorites. This year I have paper maps for the Ozark Trail and the PCT.  I have mapped out my routes using GaiaGPS for the Foothills Trail and Palmetto Trail and will use FarOut for the Ouachita Trail and Ozark Highlands Trail.


I know permits are a sore subject for some people. I prefer to follow all rules and regulations when it comes to any area of land. Getting the Long-Distance Permit from the PCTA was a huge relief.  The Palmetto Trail has been a bit confusing from passage to passage.  There are places that require dispersed camping permits through the National Forests. I am currently trying to figure all those out now. It seems the Palmetto Trail is not a trail many people thru hike, which does add to the confusion of planning.


I have backpacked enough to have quite a bit of gear.  I do need to go through it all and ensure it will still work after being stored for a couple years. Anything I feel that needs to be upgraded or replaced is always identified for those periodic sales that come up. I have recently purchased a new tent as well as my base layers. I have posted what I plan on bringing on this trip through my gear list on The Trek.  You should be able to see a link next to my profile picture on what I have so far. It is a list in the making, so expect to see some changes by the time I start in March.


How am I getting to and from trail?  This trip I will be bouncing around from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, then the Ozarks before hitting the west coast.  I do have a lot to think about on how I am going to get from one trail to another. Traveling by car, bus, train, and/or, air?  I have a few options at my disposal. Time and money will be a huge factor in how I get around. Currently I will start this adventure by driving to South Carolina and getting dropped off.  Having a driver will also help me maneuver between a couple Palmetto Trail Passages that are not connected, without road walking a popular highway.


How do you fulfill the need to be on trail, without being on trail? Reading up on journals from those that have already hiked them is entertaining for me. My main interests in journals are to see any “points of interest” they may have participated in while hiking. What are those places that lured you to deviate from the trail? I am always up for suggestions; I am positive there are amazing things that most people skip because it is not on trail and these are the places/things I am interested in. While I know many people who have listened to podcasts, I never really got into it until recently. So lately instead of listening to music in the car or during lunch, I spend all my time catching up on various shows. One of many quirks I do have while on trail is to carry a book. I pick up a book at a National/State Park that goes into the history of the surrounding area.  I really get a kick reading about history and then associating the events to the same area I am currently hiking through.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 3

  • Linda : Jan 24th


  • JT : Jan 24th

    I’m so excited to see someone doing the Ozark, Ozark Highlands, and Ouachita Trails! I live in Arkansas, and I wish our beautiful long distance trails got more publicity (though perhaps not, the solitude is wonderful). I hope you enjoy our trails! If I may ask, are you planning on doing the OT & OHT together, connecting the unbuilt section in between, or are you doing them separately? And I hope you’ve looked into the Sylamore and Buffalo sections of the OHT, they were just built and added to FarOut They are absolutely stunning sections of trail! My favorite is the Lower Buffalo Wilderness. Anyway, happy hiking, and enjoy your impressive itinerary over this next year!

    • MAV : Feb 15th

      JT, I sure am. I will also add on the Lake Norfork sections. Hope to see you on trail!


What Do You Think?