MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 277
edited July 2023 in ROUTES & TRAILS

Maybe you've wondered this yourself, maybe you've successfully thru hiked one or all of them and you have a few thoughts, or maybe you can't decide which one to do first or next, and a little feedback would help you choose. Let's hear it–which of the three most iconic long trails is the best? Make sure you're signed in to vote, and post your reasons in the comments! Go!


Appalachian Trail
Cozzens11marinafrenchMax_Kiel_TrailtinaJosh_SheetsfalbeloTracks 7 votes
Pacific Crest Trail
lchihhappyfeetNekkedDavecaddyshackhikesworcester 5 votes
Continental Divide Trail
quiggleryanAustinHagerkilroyPatch96RamKinJunki_Nakamura 6 votes


  • marinafrench
    marinafrench Member, Administrator Posts: 6
    Appalachian Trail

    I haven't hiked any of them yet, but have completed the Te Araroa in New Zealand! Next on my list is the AT. I really like the idea of "walking home" to Maine.

  • Patch96
    Patch96 Member Posts: 25
    Continental Divide Trail

    I’ve only hiked the AT so far so my vote is mostly based on speculation and what I’ve seen on the internet. I have been to Colorado and hiked a few short sections of the CDT including Grays peak and mount flora from Berthoud pass. I loved the AT in every way from start to finish, and being from Maine/New Hampshire it holds a special place in my heart. However I had to vote for the CDT for a few reasons.

    Variety in scenery and terrain

    High Elevation


    Grizz Country

    Pic 1 Grays Peak

    Pic 2 Mount Flora

    Pic 3 Near Rollins Pass

  • quiggleryan
    quiggleryan Member Posts: 45
    Continental Divide Trail


  • tina
    tina Member, Moderator Posts: 54
    Appalachian Trail

    Do the AT first if you think you might want to do other trails. Do the PCT if you think you only want to do one long trail. Do the CDT if you don’t want a typical thru-hiking experience. All are amazing in their own ways!

  • TenDigitGrid
    TenDigitGrid Member, Moderator Posts: 81

    The longest trail I have done is nothing in comparison to any of these, but I loved the High Sierra Trail so much, that I think I would love the PCT

  • kilroy
    kilroy Member Posts: 4
    Continental Divide Trail

    I've hiked the AT several times and still each time is different, both challenging and rewarding. But, the CDT is calling me there. I've bicycled through the Great Parks, north and south, but the concept of the thrill of backpacking is like anticipating those coming Christmas presents. Going solo is a little overwhelming for me. Going with one or more would be great, but we'll see. I just need to motivate myself. So little time, so many trails!


  • NekkedDave
    NekkedDave Member Posts: 5
    Pacific Crest Trail

    Having recently completed my first thru-hike (PCT), I'm going to be slightly biased towards said trail. With that in mind I don't plan on stopping with the PCT and am making plans to hit the AT in the Spring of '24.

    MARK SIREK Administrator Posts: 277

    @NekkedDave Whoa! Turbo mega ultralight! NOTHING IS LIGHTER THAN NOTHING. Do we have a new champion?

  • NekkedDave
    NekkedDave Member Posts: 5
    Pacific Crest Trail

    @MARK SIREK Worn weight champion 🤙🏼

  • Tracks
    Tracks Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2023
    Appalachian Trail

    The Appalachian Trail gets my vote. I like hiking under the shade of a tree.

    But I love all trails, they are beautiful and varied.

  • Josh_Sheets
    Josh_Sheets Member, Moderator Posts: 12
    Appalachian Trail

    If it is pure unadulterated scenery you are after, the PCT or the CDT wins, hands down. But as we all know, scenery is just one aspect of a long trail. For my money, when the question of "which of the iconic three trails is best?", the AT wins each and every time. Why?! Well, I found the camaraderie to be second to none, ease of logistics, great infrastructure (towns, maintenance of trail, etc.) to be better than what the PCT or CDT offered. Plus, in this day and age, you can largely 'just hike' the AT. The PCT and CDT are not trails you can 'just hike'. Wildfires, trail closures, decimated landscapes, etc. make the logistics on those two trail extremely difficult. In 2022, my time on the PCT was haphazardly strung together by skipping up, skipping back down, not getting to see the Canadian border, etc. It was a different kind of adventure, sure . . . but I deeply missed when I could 'just hike'. I remember thinking fondly of my AT thru hike when my PCT hike was literally going up in flames.