Had someone asked me two years ago if I planned on walking 7,400 miles in three years, I would have thought they were suffering from some seriously creative hallucinations. That all changed upon my completion of the 2,181 mile Appalachian Trail in 2011. After four consecutive months of walking I found my passion. I love being in the woods, I love testing the limits of my physical and mental endurance, and I love to eat obnoxious quantities of food with no regard for my waistline. Put these passions into a blender and you get a long-distance hiking smoothie. Shortly after my return home, I concluded that hiking the Triple Crown was something I needed to do and if all goes according to plan, I intend to finish all three trails in three consecutive years. As of 2011, approximately 160 hikers have been awarded the Triple Crown. More information can be found here.
The Big 3
Appalachian Trail (2011):
Southern Terminus: Springer Mtn. Georgia
Northern Terminus: Mt. Khatadin, Maine
States Traversed: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine.
Each year approximately 2,000 people attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, making it the most widely hiked long-distance hiking trail in the world.
More than 250 three-sided shelter have been erected along the trail. (The PCT has 6)
The total elevation change hiked along the A.T. is equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest 16 times.
The success rate for thru-hikers is approximately 25%
The Pacific Crest (2012):
Southern Terminus: Mexican Border near Campo, CA
Northern Terminus: Manning Provincial Park, British Columbia
Highest Point: Forrester Pass 13,153ft
Lowest Point: Cascade Locks, Oregon 140ft
States Traversed: California, Oregon, Washington
In 2007, over 500 hikers attempted to hike the entire length of the PCT (an average year is 300). Approximately 150 hikers succeded (30%).
Fewer People have successfully thru-hiked the PCT than have summited Mt. Everest
The trail makes its way through 7 national parks, 24 national forests and 33 federal wildernesses.
The Continental Divide (Tentative 2013):
Southern Terminus: Antelope Wells, New Mexico
Northern Terminus: Glacier National Park
Highest Point: Grays Peak 14,270ft
Lowest Point: Columbus, New Mexico 3,900ft
States Traversed: New Mexico, ColoradoWyoming, Idaho, Montana
In 2004, the trail was considered 70% complete, with the remainder of the miles requiring bushwhacking and road-walking.
Fewer than a dozen hikers thru-hike (walk the full length of a trail in a single season) the CDT each year.