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The best short(er) thru-hikes in America

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Has anyone else been bitten by the hiking bug lately? And no, I’m not talking about the insect that ended up in your sleeping bag and gave you a rash for weeks. Whether it’s on social media or the news, I seem to be surrounded by adventurers wandering trails like the Appalachian or Pacific Crest Trail. 

As much as we’d all like to take a quick leave from our jobs and hike through beautiful scenery for five months, for most of us, that’s not possible. But don’t worry, wanna-be-adventurers, Outside Online has given us a list of just as beautiful hikes without the extensive time commitment! 

Check out these thru-hikes than can be completed in 30 days or less.

Long Trail, Vermont

Photo: Shannon / Flickr

Distance: 272 miles
30-Day Pace: Nine miles a day
Overall Altitude Gain: 177 feet (lowest) to 4,393 feet (highest)
Best Time: Early to midsummer is your best bet. The lower third overlaps the AT, so you should avoid the end of summer and fall, when the herds of thru-hikers reach Vermont. Some sections of the trail will close during the late-spring mud season.

The Long Trail takes you over Vermont’s highest peaks in the Green Mountains as it traverses the entire state from the Massachusetts state line to the Canadian border. Hikers will summit more than half a dozen major peaks, including Killington and Mount Mansfield (4,393 feet), the state’s highest peak. Be prepared to endure black fly season by bringing along a mesh bug net for your tent.

Colorado Trail, Colorado

Photo: Adam Baker / Flickr

Distance: 486 miles
30-Day Pace: 16 miles a day
Overall Altitude Gain: 5,500 feet (lowest) to 13,271 feet (highest)
Best Time: Spring through fall

Starting in Denver and ending in Durango, most of the Colorado Trail is at, above, or very close to the treeline, topping out at 13,271 feet in the San Juan Mountains. The route takes you through six wilderness areas and six national forests, and you can expect plenty of expansive “go on forever” views. You should be geared up for quick and drastic weather changes, mostly in the form of afternoon thunderstorms that roll in consistently during summer. Plan to start early in the day and end early to minimize the chance of getting caught in a storm above treeline.

Superior Hiking Trail, Minnesota

Photo: Ben+Sam / Flickr

Distance: 296 miles 
30-Day Pace: Ten miles a day 
Overall Altitude Gain: 602 feet (lowest) to 1,829 feet (highest)
Best Time: Late summer or early fall 

Beginning in Duluth and continuing on to the Canadian border, the Superior Hiking Trail follows the ridgeline of Lake Superior. The trail breaks down into two sections: The first 41 miles wind north through Duluth and a series of city parks. The remaining 255 miles are through the Lake Superior backcountry and seven state parks. Expect a wide yet classic range of Midwest terrain: rocky bluffs, birch forests, beaver-dammed rivers, and daily doses of the grandest lake Minnesota has to offer. Note that as of a few days ago, a 1.6-mile stretch of the route on private property was closed by its owner. You’ll have to take a six-mile detour on the paved Gitchi-Gami State Trail to the Split Rock River. 

See more of the best thru-hikes from Outdoor Online!

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