Taking on the ultimate Finger Lakes Trail challenge

Thru-Hiking New York State’s longest continuous footpath is an adventure that tests mettle, physical endurance, and mental prowess. Many set out on the journey to complete this incredible feat for varying reasons: to conquer, to escape, to reconnect. But regardless of why your road has brought you to the winding paths of the Finger Lakes Trail, the reward of hiking end-to-end is immeasurable.

If you’ve decided to take on the trail’s ultimate challenge, to reap the reward of discovering some of its hidden gems in New York State Parks and beyond, you probably have a few questions. We’ve got answers.

What is thru-hiking again?

Thru-hiking is completing the entire length of the Finger Lakes Trail’s continuous footpath whether during a thru-hike or multiple section hikes. The Finger Lakes Trail Conference estimates that between 20 and 30 people complete the end-to-end trek on a yearly basis, with a total of over 300 end-to-end hikers to date. There are two types of end-to-end hiking, including:

  • Main Trail End-to-End – This entails hiking the entire length of the main Finger Lakes Trail, a total of roughly 575 miles.
  • Branch Trail End-to-End – Hikers can also complete a branch trail end-to-end hike along the Finger Lakes Trail, meaning hikers will complete all of the Finger Lakes Brach Trails, including the Conservation Trail, Letchworth Branch Trail, Crystal Hills Trail, Bristol Hills Branch Trail, Interloken Trail and the Onondoga Trail. This equals approximately 365 miles.

How do I become an thru-hiker?

In order to earn end-to-end status, hikers must complete their entire hike on foot. Hikers can, but are not required, to thru-hike the trail, i.e. hiking the trail in one continuous journey. Many hikers actually take years to complete the trail section-by-section.

All who are attempting to complete the end-to-end journey must document their hikes. Those interested in thru-hiking should contact the Finger Lakes Trail Conference for required forms and additional information.

Is there support for end-to-end hikers along the trail?

Yes. From car spotters to complete end-to-end support, the Finger Lakes Trail Conference offers hikers a wealth of assistance. Anyone planning to thru-hike the trail should contact the current Finger Lakes Trail Conference End-to-End Coordinator before setting out on their journey.

For a comprehensive overview of end-to-end hiking on the Finger Lakes Trail, contact us or visit www.fltconference.org/trail/go-hiking/end-end-hiking/.