Major Backpacking Trails
In the state chapters which follow, a number of long-distance trails are singled out for special mention under the heading Major Backpacking Trails. These are scenic trails, open to backpacking, which are generally at least 40-50 miles long. Camping may be allowed wherever one chooses along the way, or it may be restricted to designated sites.
The most famous and spectacular of long distance trails in this country are our National Scenic Trails. These include the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail and the 2,600-mile Pacific Crest Trail, both of which are well-established, plus the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail and the 3,200-mile North Country Trail, which are partially open but still under construction.
Other brand new supertrails are currently in the works. Undoubtedly first and foremost among these is the 4,800-mile American Discovery Trail, our first coast-to-coast trail. This and other trails which have yet to be fully established or marked are not listed in this book, but when completed the trails will be included in future editions.
See The Essential Guide to Hiking in the United States for a discussion of the different kinds of National Trails, along with the defining characteristics of many categories of land: National Parks, National Monuments, Recreation Areas, Historical Parks, Lakeshores and Seashores, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, BLM lands, state parks, state forests, county and local parks, private preserves, sanctuaries, and other private lands.