The trails that follow in the East are all marathon treks. However, each one can be chopped up into smaller segments to accommodate day hikers and multiple-day backpacking trips. Naturally, thru-hikers that want to spend the entire hiking season walking the entire length of them can do so.
If ever there was a marathon trail that offered a variety of hiking and backpacking opportunities throughout 14 eastern states, the Appalachian Trail is it. This 2,100 mile trek takes in everything from Mt. Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia, almost all of which travels through protected public lands. Over 82,000 blazes mark the Appalachian Trail and there are 265 sheltered areas that are ideal for overnight camping. The trail today is used by backpackers and day hikers as well as thru-hikers who take on the entire trail in a single season.
Also referred to as the Florida National Scenic Trail, this is only one trail of the 11 in the US National Scenic Trails system, but it covers 1,400 miles. The trail starts in the north at Gulf Islands National Seashore (Fort Pickens), Pensacola Beach and ends along the Tamiami Trail between Miami and Naples at Big Cypress Natural Preserve. Most Floridians live within an hour of the Florida Trail, depending on what section of the state they live in. The trail saw its beginnings originate in the Ocala National Forest when the very first blaze was marked at Clearwater Lake Recreation Area.
This mountain range is a physiographic section of the Appalachian Mountains that stretches over 8 states from Pennsylvania in the north to Georgia in the south. There are two major national parks that can provide you with all the hiking and backpacking you could ever desire. This region begins with Shenandoah National Park in the north and runs to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the southern end. The two parks are linked by the 469-mile long Blue Ridge Scenic Parkway. You will find numerous turnoffs along this road that head to a wide range of trailheads.
Great Eastern Trail
This project originated in an effort to create an alternative to the Appalachian Trail on the western side of the Appalachian Mountains. Recently, the Great Eastern Trail was redefined as being a potential US National Trails System connector for the North Country National Scenic Trail (NY) and the Florida National Scenic Trail (FLA). It would also connect with the Appalachian and Potomac Heritage Trails, overlapping them in certain sections. Although the trail is not completed, many sections of it are already hikeable for both day hikers and backpackers. You can obtain more information on the Great Eastern Trail by contacting the Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program.