Not everyone has the time to make it through long thru-hikes like the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalachian Trail. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other thru-hikes that aren’t a perfect fit for your lifestyle. Whether you’re a seasoned backpacker in great shape or coming off the couch, you’ve got plenty of options for unforgettable thru-hikes that you can hike in less than 30 days.
Looking for more adventure inspiration? Check out our posts on the best eastern national parks and western national monuments!
Read on to find your perfect thru-hike that you can complete in under a month!
Sierra High Route, Sierra Nevadas, California
As Backpacker puts it, this trail has “Alaska-sized scenery, complete solitude, and just enough risk to keep things interesting." Nestled right by Yosemite, the Sierra High Route is only 210 miles long and the majority of it lies above the treeline around 9,000-11,000 feet in elevation. We use the term “trail” loosely, though, because about two-thirds of this route traverses off-trail through tallus fields, meadows, and big slabs of granite.
You don’t need advanced mountaineering skills to hike the Sierra High Route, but you’ll need to be comfortable scrambling through Class-3 terrain (using footholds and handholds) to follow the route. Hiking south to north, you’ll travel through Kings Canyon National Park, Inyo National Forest, and Yosemite National Park in this unforgettable thru-hike.
Superior Hiking Trail, Minnesota
Maybe we’re biased — Minnesota is our home state, after all — but this 310-mile trail is worth it for the majestic views of Lake Superior alone. Sprinkle in birch canopies, rocky rolling hills, and beautiful lakes, and you just might fall in love with Minnesota’s north shore. The Superior Hiking Trail weaves through seven state parks (honestly, the best state parks in Minnesota), has fee-free campgrounds, and is a relatively easy trail to hike. If you plan to hike it in a month, you’ll need to average just over 10 miles a day to get from Duluth to the Canadian border — plenty of time to squeeze in some dips in the river.
Long Trail, Vermont
Don't let its name fool you — The Long Trail is 272 miles of pristine ponds, hardwood forests, bubbling streams, and rugged peaks — a slice of backcountry in the heart of Vermont. Running the length of the state, the Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains up Vermont from its Massachusetts border to Canada. This trail is also great because 100 miles of it coincides with the Appalachian Trail, so you can get a taste of the larger trail while ticking off some of the most prominent peaks of the Green Mountains. Most hikers can finish a thru-hike in 2-4 weeks (averaging 9-18 miles a day), so it’s not too strenuous to do in a month. Just be sure to start after Memorial Day unless you love hiking in mud!
Colorado Trail, Colorado
Who says you have to sacrifice unforgettable experiences for a shorter thru-hike? The Colorado Trail is a 486-mile trail through 6 wilderness areas, 6 national forests, and some of the country’s absolute best alpine country. From Denver to Durango, you’ll hike through wildflower meadows, rugged peaks, and stunning mountain passes — but you’ll need to avoid afternoon thunderstorms while you get your miles in. It's not recommended for your first thru-hike. While hikers can definitely complete this trail in a month, you’ll need to do a lot of planning and preparation. But hey - there’s nothing wrong with extending your hike to bag a few fourteeners along the way, right?
When you're out adventuring, always remember to follow Leave No Trace principles and leave it better than you found it. Our wild places stay wild when we all do better. Check out our guide on our favorite apps & websites to enjoy the wild to be prepared for your next trip outdoors.