The Long Trail runs through the length of the US state of Vermont. It is designated as one of the oldest long distance trails in the United States, having been completed in 1930, and served as inspiration for the Appalachian Trail. It follows the primary ridge of the Green Mountains, and reaches all of its major summits. The difficulty of Vermont's Long Trail is considered moderate. The remote and rugged terrain can be strenuous and weather can be rainy, but other factors on the trail ease this a bit. Water is readily available along the route, and the shelters provide easy sleeping arrangements for hikers. The trail is also relatively short, and can be completed in just a few weeks.
Depending on the snowmelt from the previous season, the trail can be quite muddy. Additionally, the spring and summer seasons will usually have rain that exacerbates those conditions. The route also snakes through remote mountain ranges, which can be hard on the knees. The easiest part of the trail, terrain-wise, would be the southern third of the route which coincides with the Appalachian Trail in the Green Mountain region.
There are over 70 established backcountry sites along the the trail, each of which has some type of water source nearby. In general, water sources are plentiful in the form of creeks and streams on the LT. However, the quality of the water cannot be guaranteed, and it important to treat all water before use in drinking or cooking.
There are many towns with grocery stores for food resupply. Additionally, the distance between these towns is usually small, and so most hikers will be able to rely solely on the towns (will not need to carry more than 5 days worth of food at a time). For hikers with more significant resupply needs, there are post offices that will accept hiker packages along the way. For more information on exact resupply points, see the LT resupply guide online.
Weather on this trail is generally pleasant while in season, with pleasant daytime temperatures, and cooler nights. However, adverse conditions, especially at higher elevations, can bring nighttime temperatures below freezing. Rain can also be a concern, with reasonable change of rainfall during the main hiking season. While more dangerous severe storms are quite rare, occasional rainfall should be expected and prepared for.
Similar to the Appalachian Trail, the Long Trail is marked with white blazes that will are usually painted on trees or rocks depending on the terrain of the section. Intersections with other side trails will also be marked, and other trails will usually be blazed in blue. Likewise, turns will be marked with two blazes, one higher to indicated the direction of the turn. Navigation along the southern portion is very easy, especially with the high foot traffic. Other portions of the trail also have straightforward navigation, but the sparse population of hikers will mean more self reliance with a guidebook or map.
Vermont's Long Trail Map
Detailed (waterproof!) map for the entire route of the Long Trail. Includes elevation profiles, shelter locations, and intersections with roads and side trails. For many thru-hikers, this map will be sufficient for navigation
There are relatively few significant hazards to hikers on the Long Trail. Severe weather can be dangerous for hikers, but with careful planning most of the associated risks can be avoided (for example, stay off exposed ridges during storms). Food should be tied up to prevent altercations with wildlife, and hikers should check themselves daily for ticks.
The southern portion of the trail that coincides with the Appalachian Trail will be relatively popular as AT you'll be hiking side-by-side with the AT thru-hikers. After that portion, it trail foot traffic diminishes significantly, and hikers can easily be alone at the designated campsites or shelters. Like most trails, popularity picks up near towns and on weekends as day-hikers enjoy the trail.
Most hikers prefer to start at the southern terminus with the easier terrain and work their way up towards the more difficult mountains up north. The southern terminus is near North Adams, Massachusetts, which is accessible by local transportation. The northern terminus is near Burlington, VT, which is also relatively accessible. In both cases, hikes will need to use a taxi or private shuttle for the last mile. More specific transportation details are available online.
There are numerous (over 70) shelters and backcountry sites along the route which are available for hikers. They vary in capacity - some areas just have platforms for tents, while others have full lodges that could fit two dozen people. Some of the higher quality sites charge a modest $5 fee for an overnight stay. More details can be found at the Green Mountain Club website. Similar to the Appalachian Trail, the trail does pass through some towns which have more developed accommodation.