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The trails that make up the National Trails System, including these moderately long walks, provide ample thru-hike opportunities for adventurers.

Six Moderately Long Walks

The long trails of America catch our imaginations: the Appalachian Trail with its steep rolling mountains, the Pacific Crest Trail with its alpine beauty, and the Continental Divide Trail’s rugged wilderness. These trails are serious undertakings that require money, equipment, and most of all, time. What if you’re short on one or even all of these? There are other routes in America’s National Trail System, and a few outside of it, that can be accomplished without tackling the Triple Crown. Here are six moderately long walks where you can wander off for a month or two without being gone for a whole season.

Trail #1 – Arizona Trail (AZT)

State: Arizona

Length: 800 miles

Duration: 45-50 days

Northern Terminus: Arizona-Utah Border

Southern Terminus: Coronado National Memorial at the US-Mexico Border

Best months: Late March – Late May

The Arizona Trail traverses 800 miles through some of the most spectacular scenery in the state, reaching a high point of 9,600’ and skirting the state’s highest point, Mt. Humphreys. The trail wanders through rolling sagebrush foothills, deep canyons, and wide-open plains. The AZT is also one of the newest trails in the US, officially designated a National Scenic Trail in 2009 but not completed until 2011. One of the unique features of this long trail is that all areas other than designated wilderness can be cycled. If you’re looking for a desert getaway and a short walk, this is the trail for you. A strong community encircles the trail as it ranges across the Sonoran Desert, through the sky islands of the Superstition Mountains, and finishes on the Kaibab Plateau outside Grand Canyon National Park.

At 800, the Arizona Trail is a long walk through the state's most scenic landscapes.

Trail #2 – Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST)

State: North Carolina

Length: 1,175 miles

Duration: 55-75 days

Western Terminus: Clingman’s Dome

Eastern Terminus: Pamlico Sound

Best Months: May – October

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail has been on my radar for some time. Most people start the trail among the high peaks of the Great Smoky Mountains on 6,643’ Clingman’s Dome in Tennessee and work their way east through the Black Mountains, over Mt. Mitchell, and down to the foothills of North Carolina. As the trail wanders its way toward the Atlantic, you share the path with 8 different trail systems, including the Art Loeb Trail and the Appalachian Trail. The MST is one of the few thru-hikes that has an alternate paddle route to avoid a long road walk between Smithfield and Jacksonville. You have the opportunity to paddle 169 miles on the Neuse River and give weary legs a break as you near your finish at the Atlantic Ocean.

North Carolina's Mountains to Sea Trail is a long walk worth exploring.

Trail #3 – Ice Age Trail

State: Wisconsin

Length: 1,200 miles

Duration: 55-75 days

Eastern Terminus: Potawatomi State Park

Western Terminus: Interstate Park near St. Croix Falls

Best Months: May – Late October

The Ice Age Trail is one of the lesser-known trails in the US. It begins near Wisconsin’s westernmost border at St. Croix Falls and jaggedly traverses east, diving south from Antigo to Jonesville, near the Illinois border, before turning north toward its Eastern Terminus at Sturgeon Bay. The Ice Age Trail, largely still a “route,” has only 675 miles of completed trail, with 400 miles of interconnecting trail and large portions still based on road networks. It can be done year ‘round, but the best times to complete the trail are in the summer and fall to make the most of Wisconsin’s fall colors and cooler weather. This trail roughly follows the glacial moraine from the last Ice Age 12,000 years ago, showing you signs of the forgotten past along the way.

Take a long walk on Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail to explore the state's geologic and natural history.

Trail #4 – Buckeye Trail

State: Ohio

Length: 1,444 miles

Duration: 65-85 days

Northern Terminus: Headlands Beach State Park near Mentor, Ohio

Southern Terminus: Eden Park in Cincinnati, Ohio

Best Months: May – Late October

We have a long trail right here in Ohio, the only trail on this list that isn’t a National Scenic Trail. You can start and end from Cincinnati’s Eden Park as the trail loops around the state. Attractions include Hocking Hills, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, and Wayne National Forest. Starting from Cincinnati, the trail wanders north to Toledo and then parallels I-80 toward Cleveland before reaching its Northern Terminus at Headlands Beach State Park. It turns south again and finds its way to southeast Ohio’s scenic foothills, following the Ohio River back to the start. If you want to get away but need to be close to home, this might be the trail for you. The trail largely sticks to woodland areas and wanders through small towns like Milford, but beware that you can find yourself walking through cornfields for a day or two.

Among others, Milford, Ohio is home to the Buckeye Trail, which forms a moderately long loop around the state.

Trail #5 – Florida Trail

State: Florida

Length: 1,300 miles

Duration: 50-60 days

Southern Terminus: Oasis Visitor Center in Big Cypress National Preserve

Northern Terminus: Fort Pickens in Gulf Island National Seashore

Best Months: Late January – Late May

The Florida Trail is another long trail still under construction, with 300 miles of the 1,300 still to be built and large road walks. Starting in the panhandle near Pensacola, the trail meanders down the backbone of Florida toward Everglades National Park. The trail can be dangerous, with the chance of encountering alligators, venomous snakes, mosquitoes, hurricanes, and 20-mile trudges through knee-deep swamps. Although you might hope the trail would work its way along beaches for a thousand miles, most of the trail is inland, skirting west of Orlando and wandering by other vacation hotspots. The trail is known for dense jungle-like forests, inland swamps, and grassy plains that are surprisingly scenic. It is best to avoid this trail in the summer when humidity and high temperatures make this trail downright disgusting, but a winter or spring thru-hike is the perfect cure for cabin fever.

Florida isn't a popular backpacking destination, but this mid-length thru hike offers endless opportunity.

Trail #6 – Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT)

States: Montana, Idaho & Washington

Length: 1,200 miles

Duration: 75 – 100 days

Eastern Terminus: Glacier National Park

Western Terminus: Cape Alava, WA

Best Months: Late June – Late September

I’m not going to offer much on the PNT other than to say it exists and it’s intriguing. I’ve run into numerous PNT thru-hikers in recent years as well as old-timers who did it in years past. Everyone said it was remote, beautiful, and one of the greatest challenges they’d undertaken. The trail can be overgrown, incredibly steep, and covered in scree and talus. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it captures the imagination as it traverses some of the best parts of the Rocky Mountains and the Cascade Range. At times more of a bushwhack than a trail, the route runs from Montana’s Glacier National Park, through Idaho, and across Washington to the Olympic Mountains on the coast.

The glamorous views of the PNT make this a walk worth taking.

by: Ben Shaw

Buckeye Trail Association

The Buckeye Trail is literally at our front door! How cool is that? The BTA has been organizing volunteers, maintaining the trail, conserving and protecting lands, mapping the trail, and much more since its inception in 1954. Their efforts have provided over 1,400 miles of hiking trails around the state of Ohio. In 2012, Milford had the ribbon cutting making the city an official “Trail Town”.

Since RRT’s first full year in 2011, we have been helping to sponsor events and fundraising for the BTA and, in 2012, became official sponsors of the Buckeye Trail Fest, the organization’s largest event. RRT continues support through events, Association promotions, and sponsorship.

2018 saw the first sponsored fundraiser for the Buckeye Trail at RRT. We were able to raise nearly $1,000 and also recruit over 2 dozen members for the BTA! We hope to co-organize more events including group hikes and increase exposure to this great trail as time goes on. Look for future events on the RRT page such as Buckeye Trail thru-hiker talks, ways to get involved, and trail town events!

For more information on the Buckeye Trail Association visit the link below:

Buckeye Trail

Read “Trail Town” Blog

Back to Community Involvement Page

The Best Trail Town

The Milford Trail Junction
Written by: Bryan Wolf

What is a trail town? I found this definition online; “A Trail Town is a destination along a long-distance trail or adjacent to an extensive trail system. Whether the trail is a hiking trail, water trail or rail trail, users can venture from the path to explore the unique scenery, commerce and heritage that each trail town has to offer.”  (

Milford Ohio fits the above definition as well or better than any town could. We are in fact the epitome of a trail town. We are home to over 22,000 miles of long distance hiking trail as the biggest trail junction in the United States. We are home to a “rails to trails” program that connects cities more than 70 miles apart. We are home to a National Scenic River that has year-round recreational opportunities. Lastly, we are home to a city that dates back to 1788 and boast unique shopping and dining experiences.

As an outfitter we hope that RRT adds to the qualifications, that we bring additional excitement and attract and inspire more recreational use around the city and that we support users of our trails and river. But we cannot take credit for a single aspect that has built the outstanding resume that you see above. What we are proud of is that we settled in this city because we want to be part of this trail town, and because we recognized it’s potential.

Every year we are lucky to meet and share in the experience of people walking one of three trails across the country, or around the entire state of Ohio. Every day we are lucky to personally enjoy and be immersed in the abundant recreation provided by the Little Miami Scenic Trail and River. Be it by foot, wheels, paddle, or pogo stick, this city ties it all together.

Junction mapThere are a lot of cogs in the trail town system that make us who we are. The over half a dozen canoe and kayak liveries that operate in and around Milford are a big part of that machine. You see the Little Miami River isn’t a one shot or one season river. This is part of the reason why Cincinnati is the self-proclaimed paddle capital. This is why we have the largest and strongest paddling groups in the country. Not because we have short term destination whitewater, but because we have year round beauty and access that is beginner friendly and harnesses the passion of the sport.

One of these great canoe and kayak liveries is Loveland Canoe and Kayak, who operates both out of Loveland and Milford. Owner Mark Bersani had this to say about the Little Miami; “We are fortunate to have one of nature’s best playgrounds right in our backyard.  I love the Little Miami River because of its incredible beauty, rich history, abundant wildlife and accessibility.  It provides awesome recreational opportunities for paddlers, anglers, nature lovers and explorers alike.  When you spend time on the river you can feel the stress of the day melt away as you take in the inspiring scenery and fresh air.”

I reached out to Mark to get some facts, because what good is my nostalgia without facts? The numbers blew me away! In one year Mark will personally put about 16,000 people on the Little Miami River! This is local love right there, we aren’t talking about tourists from other cities. We are talking about a town and its love for the river. Furthermore he added that amongst the half dozen other liveries they would total about 100,000 people per year on the river!

089_LittleMiamiFellas_5-26-15With a healthy and frequented river, so grows the city. This isn’t your grandma’s Milford anymore, although Grandma is still welcome and we love her dearly. In the past five years we have seen the city transform from half empty to overflowing. From a shopping and dining perspective Milford is blowing up, and if you’ve not been here in sometime then you have been missing out. Downtown Milford hosts festivals, has a nature preserve, and even riverside camping. The city grows everyday making it more livable, more shop-able, and more fun.

This year Milford has the opportunity to be part of Outside Magazine’s “Best Towns” competition as we compete to be the best “River Town”. Just having the nomination puts us as one of only sixteen cities to be voted on! So I ask you to please share this, to please vote, and to please spread the word. But also be proud, because if Milford is your city than you should know that it goes toe to toe with cities of a much larger reputation; like that of Bend Oregon, St. Louis Missouri , Charlotte North Carolina, the Appalachian Trails Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, and even Portland Oregon.

Click here to vote now (open until 4/29/16)

If you are unfamiliar with the vast trail town resume I’ve mentioned please check it out. You can find the breakdown of all 22,000 miles of trails that cut right thru Milford on the cities website and the link provided at the end of the article. Special thanks to Mark, visit him in Loveland or Milford ( // 513-683-4611).

Click here for Trail Junction details

Click here for Little Miami River Safety