how long does it take to hike the long path

How Long Does It Take To Hike The Long Path?

​QUICK ANSWER: ​18 days: Although no official statistics are readily available, an estimate of the average Long Path thru-hike can be calculated using Naismith’s rule. ​Read on for more info on ​New York's ​Long Path, when to go, the best segments, and a whole bunch mo'.

QUICK ANSWER: It takes the average person 5 months to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which equals to walking around 15.5 miles per day. Read on for more info on when to go, how much it costs, and tips on hiking the trail alone.

How Long Does It Take To Hike The Long Path?

What Is The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)?

​​Eighteen days is ​the average, but of course ​some thru-hikers have completed the trail much faster (see below). According to Naismith’s rule, the average person hikes three miles an hour, with an additional hour factored in for every 2,000 feet of ascent. Assuming an eight hour day, the average person will hike the 358-mile Long Path in eighteen days, with an average of twenty miles a day.

Curious about other thru-hikes? Check out our other posts in this series:

Pacific Crest Trail
Colorado Trail
Appalacian Trail
Grand Canyon

​Fastest Long Path Hike

Ken Posner holds the current record. In 2013, he ran the trail in nine days, three hours, and six minutes.

​How Many Hikers Complete The Trail Per Year?

Since 2013, an average of seven hikers have completed the trail per year.

The trail has five main parts in order from south to north: the desert, the Sierra, Northern California, Oregon, and Washington. Each section is unique and comes with its own set of challenges (and rewards).

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​Long Path: Trail Geography

How Long Does it Take to Hike the Pacific Crest Trail?

​​The Long Path begins in New York City and travels northward to John Boyd Thacher State Park in Voorheesville, a suburb of Albany, New York. Along the way, it provides access to some of the most stunning geographical features of New York. Moving south to north, below are a list of places you will encounter along the trail:

  • The Hudson Palisades, which provide excellent views of the Hudson River and New York City
  • Harriman State Park, one of New York’s largest state parks
  • Schunnemunk Mountain, which offers views of the Hudson River, the Shawangunk Ridge, and the Catskills
  • Shawangunk Ridge, which features waterfalls and mountain top lakes
  • The Catskills, which offer breathtaking views from their lofty peaks
  • Schoharie Valley, which contains the Schoharie Reservoir

​When’s It Best To Hike The Long Path And From Which Direction?

It takes us mere mortals way, way longer. Most people budget around five months to hike the trail which puts you at about 17.5 miles a day. Ideally you’ll have an open-ended schedule so you can slow down when you want to and wait out bad weather when you need to. And rather than hitting 17 odd miles each and every day, most hikers go through faster and slower periods, as well as zero days, or rest days.

​​Most people hike the trail from south to north. Although the trail is generally hikeable year-round, fall is an especially beautiful time. If hiking in the wintertime, or even into the springtime, be prepared for snow, ice, and further into spring, mud. Also, for your safety, please do not hike during the hunting season.

However, you can’t take too long to complete the hike because you need to beat the first snow storm in Washington (assuming you’re going south to north, which 90% of hikers do). The best time to hike the PCT is to leave Mexico in April, arrive in the Sierra just after the snow melts in June, and then finish in September just before it snows in the Cascades.

​​Long Path Trail Guide

How Much Does It Cost To Hike The PCT?

​​History Of The Long Path

The cost of a PCT thru-hike will vary from person to person. According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, you can expect to spend at least $4,000 and as much as $8,000 or more. The three main types of expenses are gear, resupplies, and off-trail spending:

​In 1931, Vincent J. Schaefer conceived of the idea of an unmarked trail which would serve as a parallel to the recently constructed “Long Trail” in Vermont and connect various points of interest throughout the state of New York.

He named it “The Long Path” after a line in the Walt Whitman poem Song of the Open Road: "There lies before me a long brown path, leading wherever I choose.”

During World War II, the project was set aside. In the 1960’s, Robert Jessen and Michael Warren revived the project, albeit with the intention of making it a traditional marked trail. Major construction occured in the 80s and 90s, and the trail continues to evolve today.

​The Long Path: Best Segments

$2,000 is a good estimate for total gear expenses. If you already have a lot of high-quality gear then that number could be a lot lower, but you’ll most probably still need to buy multiple pairs of hiking boots, as well as a couple of cool gadgets that you can show off on the trail.

​If you want to hike a segment of The Long Path and are wondering where to begin, the three hikes outlined below can give you a sense of the beauty and variety that the trail has to offer.

Hike 1: High Tor

This hike ascends High Tor in High Tor State Park, a part of the Hudson Palisades. From its summit, you are able to see out in all directions, with views of the Hudson River and the town of Haverstraw.

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Terrain: mostly uphill, steep near the summit
  • Access: From the intersection at Ridge Road, turn left onto Old Route 304. After passing the fourth telephone pole along this road, you will see an acqua blaze to your right, indicating The Long Path. Follow this trail to the summit.
Resupplies are the food and other necessities that you’ll pick up as you go, either from stores along the way or from the mail. If you want to eat cheap you can survive on the basics: trail mix, oatmeal, etc. If you want to eat nothing but fancy pre-made meals and you can afford to then go ahead but you better share! Either way, you should be able to estimate what a day’s worth of food looks like and calculate your total resupply cost based on that. $2,000 is about average.

​​This hike takes you to the Verkeerderkill Falls at Sam’s Point Preserve, a highlight of the northern Shawangunks. Along the way it passes blueberry bushes, forested area, and the stream Verkeerder Kill.

  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Terrain: Downhill to the falls, uphill on the return
  • Access: From the parking lot off Sam’s Point Road, turn right on the loop road. Follow the acqua blazes to the intersection for Verkeerderkill Falls.
One more thing to consider: In addition to the cost of hiking the PCT, you’ll also probably have to quit your job and lose 5 months of income in the process. Ouch! Basically, hiking the PCT isn’t cheap.
But it’s worth every penny.
Hiking The PCT Alone

​This hike ascends Vroman’s Nose in the Schoharie Creek Valley. From its summit you can see excellent views of the surrounding valley.

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Terrain: Uphill to the summit
  • Access: From the parking lot off West Middleburgh Road, follow the old woods road to the right. This will lead you to the Long Path.

​How Much Does It Cost To Hike The Long Path?

But, if you’re hiking solo for the first time, you can also grab some solitude when you want it as well, and you can always move at your own pace.
If you’re a female thru-hiker, you should absolutely feel confident to go it alone, but you might want be a little extra careful, especially of other people. Don’t spend too much time near roads, be careful hitchhiking, and don’t broadcast your coordinates on social media.

​​Camping On The Long Path

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail Books

​Campsites are available along some, but not all, segments of The Long Path. The two listed below are easily accessible from the trail.

1. North-South Lake State Campground in the Central Catskills

219 sites, showers, toilets
Cost: $22, reservations recommended
Critters to watch out for: bugs, mice, porcupines

2. Max V. Shaul State Campground in the Schoharie Valley

30 sites, showers
Cost: $15-19
Critters to watch out for: bugs, mice

Although not official campsites, many areas along the trail do allow camping, including DEC land in the Shawangunks and state land in the Catskills and State Reforestation Areas.

These days, there is tons of great PCT info available online such as Halfmile maps and the Postholer forum, but it’s never a bad idea to do some extra reading. Here are some books we recommend for both preparation and motivation:
You’ve almost definitely heard of Wild and reading it may have even inspired your desire to hike the PCT, but we still had to put it on here – it’s an inspirational PCT classic.
The Wilderness Press regularly publishes a full PCT guidebook. It is probably the most detailed guidebook out there and gives you mile by mile information for the whole trail. It’s invaluable to have something like this when planning out your trip.
Mile 445: Hitched in Her Hiking Boots (By Claire Henley Miller)
A Blistered Kind of Love is a book written by a couple who hiked the PCT together. The authors alternate so one chapter is written by the husband and the next by the wife and so on, so you get multiple perspectives on trail life. A fascinating read.
If you want to read something a little less educational but a little more fun, we recommend Mile 445: Hitched in Her Hiking Boots. It’s a charming true story of a young woman hiking the PCT who meets a handsome man, falls in love with him, and marries him by mile 445. It just goes to show that anything can happen out there.

​Trail End

Trail End

​How long does it take to ​hike the Long Path? OK, so let’s recap: it takes about 18 ​days to hike New York's famous thru-hike, the Long Path. The best time to hike the ​Long Path is by starting in the south and hiking north. The fall is probably the best time to go in terms of favourable weather and beautiful scenery. The winter is best avoided, lest you're an experienced hiker. ​Budget ​around $1,000, but you’ll probably need a bit more just to be safe. ​=ZIP=

Got all that? Good. Now enjoy this really cool PCT documentary filmed entirely by a couple of talented thru-hikers:
Related Post: How Long Does It Take To Hike The Appalachian Trail?

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