What Is the Longest Backpacking Trail in the World?

By Alice Nichols

When it comes to long-distance backpacking trails, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is often the first thing that comes to mind. With a total length of 2,650 miles, stretching from Mexico to Canada and crossing three states (California, Oregon and Washington), it is the most well-known. But did you know that the PCT is not actually the longest backpacking trail in the world?

The longest continuous hiking trail in the world is actually the Great Himalaya Trail, an extensive network of trails connecting nine countries in South Asia. It spans a total of 4,500 miles through Nepal, India, Bhutan and Tibet and includes some of the world’s highest mountain passes. The trail takes hikers through stunning landscapes and diverse cultures and experiences that would otherwise be impossible to access.

The Te Araroa Trail, located in New Zealand, is another notable long-distance trail. Spanning 3,000 miles from Cape Reinga to Bluff on the South Island, it is one of the most popular long-distance trails for thru-hikers. This trail takes you through landscapes ranging from subtropical forests and beaches to rugged mountains and glaciers.

For those looking for a shorter but still impressive adventure in Europe, there’s the E1 European Long Distance Path. This 2,700 mile trail stretches from Ireland’s west coast at Cork all the way eastward to Istanbul in Turkey. The E1 passes through eight countries along its journey including France, Switzerland, Italy and Greece.

No matter where you are located or what type of experience you’re looking for on your next backpacking trip, there’s sure to be a trail out there for you. From short weekend hikes to epic multi-month adventures across multiple countries – backpacking provides an unparalleled opportunity to explore nature and culture around the world.


The Great Himalaya Trail is officially recognized as being the longest continuous hiking trail in the world with a total length of 4500 miles across nine countries. While this may be too ambitious for some hikers looking for a longer backpacking experience, there are plenty of other options available such as Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), Te Araroa Trail in New Zealand and E1 European Long Distance Path.