Tips for Hiking the Long Trail
Trek contributor Saoirse “Story” Ibargüen is an avid hiker, reader, and storyteller. She has hiked some of the most interesting trails across the globe (including the West Highland Way).
After completing the Appalachian Trail in 2018, Story could not find anything to satisfy her longing to get back on the trail. So in 2019, after some careful planning, Story got back on trail and hiked Vermont’s 270 miles Long Trail. It was a natural pick as Vermont was one of Story’s favorite sections of the AT. Plus, hiking the LT meant that she would get to rehike the 100 miles that the LT and AT share in southern Vermont.
Earlier this year, Story sat down and provided some tips for aspiring End-to-Enders. Below is an abridged version of her 17 tips for Hiking the Long Trail.
(1) Take 3 to 4 Weeks to Enjoy the Trail
Give yourself some buffer time. Even with taking 3 weeks, one would still need to average more than 14 miles a day. This can be grueling considering the difficult and rugged terrain of Northern Vermont.
(2) Plan Ahead for at Least 4 Resupplies
While this is dependent on what kind of hiker you are, figuring out resupplies can be difficult on any trail. Luckily, the LT has plenty of trail towns that you can find rides too if you plan ahead.
(3) Keep a Journal to Get GMC Recognition
If you want to get recognition by the Green Mountain Club (GMC) for completing your end-to-end you will need to submit a journal with your application. Keeping the journal on your phone can be a bonus as it makes the submission process easier (and allows you to edit out the personal detail if you want).
(4) How to Get to the Southern Terminus
The LT does not start right at a trailhead because it is right on the MA/VT stateline in the wood. This means that you will have to hike into the terminus. There are a couple of different options and everybody starts somewhere else so plan ahead for what will work best for you.
(5) Arrange for a Ride to Pick you up at the End
Just like the southern terminus, the northern terminus is in an extremely remote area. This means there will be little to no Uber/Lyft service available. Thus, make sure to plan to arrange a way for you to get picked up at the end of your hike. The Green Mountain Club has information about transportation to/from the terminuses available on the GMC website.
(6) Don’t be Scared by “Vermud” Horror Stories
Southern Vermont is famous among AT hikers for its mud. However, don’t let these horror stories scare you away. Outside of mud season (early spring when the trail is closed), the mud is not nearly as bad as marketed. Plus, the mud provides a nice soft contrast to the hard unforgiving tred of many other trails.
(7) Bring a Bug Net
Especially if you are hiking during late spring/early summer, you are going to want a Bug Net for your head. The blackflies can be brutal. A Bug Net can make the moments when you want to sit down and stop moving much more relaxing.
(8) Go Up the Fire Towers
It can seem like an exhausting idea to climb a fire tower right after getting to the top of a summit. However, it is well worth the extra effort to see all the amazing undisturbed views that remote Vermont has to offer.
(9) Remember That it Gets Tougher as You Get Further North
While the first 100 miles of the are fairly moderate hiking, Northern Vermont gets significantly tougher. After the AT and LT split, the terrain gets rougher and there are more scrambles. Be careful and plan ahead.
(10) Pack for Rain
Bring your packliners, rain pants, and all your waterproof gear. Oh, and you are going to want to bring lots of extra Vermont-made Darn Tough socks.
(11) Do Not Go Up Exposed Peaks in Bad Weather
The frequent sudden mountain storms and rocky summits of the LT can create a recipe for disaster if you decide to climb an exposed peak when bad weather is rolling in. The high winds and lighting can make it extremely dangerous if you do not plan ahead and respect the weather.
(12) Use the Incredible Shelters
The shelters along the LT are some of the best in the country – especially after it splits off from the AT. Many of the shelters are full-blown cabins decked out with four walls, wood stoves, lofts, and beautiful architecture.
(13) Use the Guthook App
Guthook GPS App has an inexpensive Long Trail map loadout. Having this digital backup can be a lifesaver if you get off-trail.
(14) Hit the Trail Early if you Want to See Wildlife
The LT has a significant amount of wildlife to enjoy. Porcupines, moose, salamanders, and more await those willing to wake up early enough to see them.
(15) Go to Barne’s Camp Visitor Center
Just past the halfway point, LT hikers will trek right by the Barne’s Camp Visitor Center. They offer some great trail magic potential for those who stop.
(16) Don’t Feel Like You Need to Stop in Rutland.
While the Yellow Deli of Rutland is famous amongst AT hikers, Rutland is not the must-see destination that some make it out to be. Plus, it can be hard to find hitches in and out of town.
(17) Stop at Old Stagecoach Inn
Located in Waterbury Vermont (Mile 184) you will find the Old Stagecoach Inn. The inn is wonderful, full of charm, and has an INCREDIBLE included breakfast.
Check out the end of Stories video to see some bonus tips provided by Trek founder Zach “Badger” Davis who recently hiked the LT.
The Long Trail is considered by many to be the granddaddy of long trails in the United States and it earns its reputation as one of the best hiking experiences in the world. Like all trails, remember to always hike your own hike. After all, the LT has plenty of diverse experiences to offer.
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