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One Foot in Front of the Other: How Many Steps Does it Take to Conquer These Famous U.S. Trails?

To many people, hiking is just walking. It’s as simple as taking one step after another. However, when you account for elevation gain, rough terrain, occasional rock scrambles, and the mental fortitude it takes to spend extended amounts of time in the outdoors, hiking is more of an extreme walking experience. 

So, how many steps does it take to conquer some of the most famous trails in the U.S.? Let’s take a look.

How Many Steps in a Mile?

Calculating an exact number of steps in a mile is tricky. It depends on how big of a step you take. While some people cover two feet in each stride, others conquer up to three.

We’re taking the average to more or less get the correct answer for these famous trails, which is 2,100 steps per mile. Plus, it’s important to remember many longer hikes require stopping in towns and going off-trail, or maybe there’s a scenic overlook that distracts you from focusing on the actual trail. Either way, here’s how many steps you’ll more or less be looking at to complete these famous trails.

hiking steps
A hiker on the Appalachian Trail in Maine. (Source: Getty Images)

The Appalachian Trail

Arguably, the country’s most well-known and legendary trail, the Appalachian Trail (AT), brings hikers from northern Georgia to the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine. The journey usually takes about five months. The AT runs 2,190 miles, meaning you’ll take about 4,599,000 steps to finish the trip. 

The Pacific Crest Trail

The PCT, or the Pacific Crest Trail, is a close second to the popularity of the AT. The 2,650-mile trail runs from the border of Mexico and California and runs north through the desert, the Sierra Nevadas and more before ending at the Washington State/Canadian border. The trip requires 5,560,000 steps.

The Continental Divide Trail

The final of America’s massive long trails is the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Completing this trail and the AT and PCT rewards you with the “Triple Crown.” It’s one of the biggest achievements as a long-distance hiker. The CDT is by far the longest at 3,100 miles and is known for being the most rugged, with terrain through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana being some of the most remote areas of the lower 48 states. If you’re walking it, you’ll be taking about 6,510,000 steps.

The Long Trail

Only some have months to spend on trails, but there are still plenty of famous thru-hikes to immerse yourself in nature and have the ultimate backpacking experience. These trails include the Long Trail, which runs through Vermont. The path runs from the state’s border with Massachusetts to the border with Canada. The trail also shares sections with the Appalachian Trail. At 273 miles, you’ll need to move your feet 573,300 steps to complete the hike.

The John Muir Trail

As the Long Trail is to the AT, the John Muir Trail is to the PCT. The John Muir Trail runs through central California from the Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous U.S. At 211 miles, the John Muir Trail will more or less take 443,100 steps from point to point. This trail also shares miles with the PCT.

how many steps to hike
A hiker in Arizona. (Source: Getty Images)

The Arizona Trail

If you’re more of a fan of the desert, this is the trail for you. For 800 miles, you can travel through Arizona from desert sand to rolling hills and into the mountains in the northern parts of the state. Similar to the Long Trail in Vermont, the Arizona Trail runs from the border with Mexico to Utah. If you’re walking the path, it will take you 1,680,000 steps.

The Florida Trail

Staying with thru-hiking states, you can also navigate through the Sunshine State. The Florida Trail starts or ends in the panhandle Gulf Islands National Seashore but doesn’t quite make it to the Florida Keys, instead ending in Big Cypress National Preserve. Even without running the entire distance of Florida, the trail still knocks out an impressive 1,500 miles, and your step count will land around 3,150,000.

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