The Long Trail, 1910
Preparations for hiking Vermont’s 270-mile Long Trail, the first long-distance wilderness hiking trail in America, have changed considerably since the first Long Trail Guide was published in 1917. Men were advised to wear “ordinary height shoes with hobnails, felt hat, ‘generous sized’ silk bandana, inch-wide leather belt with cup attached, wool underwear, wool shirt and stout wool trousers,” while female hikers should have high-laced boots with “Hungarian nails,” and wear bloomers.
Oral history transcriptions
Click a name below for more information. All transcripts are in PDF format.
- Catherine Robbins Clifford
- John T. Cowles
Sitting in his tent in the rain or the side of Stratton Mountain in 1909, James P. Taylor conceived of the idea of a long trail running along the ridges of the spine of the Green Mountains from the Massachusetts line to the Canadian border. One year later, in 1910, the Green Mountain Club formed and began work cutting the trail, with just twenty-three members and $100 in the bank. In this visionary conception of an unimproved trail cut through dense woods to provide rewarding hiking experiences in wilderness settings, James Taylor proceeded by more than ten years the conception of the Appalachian Trail, which now runs from Maine to Georgia. In 1930 the final link of the Trail was cut near the Canadian border.
Today, the GMC’s over 10,000 members are involved in difficult environmental problems facing the popular and often over-used Long Trail. Now, every year thousands of hikers travel the 445 miles of the Long Trail system, which includes the end-to-end trail, side trails, and spur trails. This heavy use provides recreation and spectacular views of the mountains and valleys of the state, but also causes erosion of the trails and creates a large waste disposal problem, while acid rain and other atmospheric pollutants are damaging the fragile ridge top ecosystems.
Yet caretakers again reside during the hiking season in twenty of the seventy overnight shelter areas. Enthusiastic hikers and supporters of the GMC continue to pledge to protect the unique resource of the Long Trail, known from its beginning as “a footpath in the wilderness.”
“History of the Long Trail.” Green Mountain Club web site: https://www.greenmountainclub.org/page.php?id=15
Long Trail Guide (26th Edition). Waterbury Ctr., Vt.: Green Mountain Club, 2007.
Jane Curtis, Will Curtis, and Frank Lieberman. Green Mountain Adventure: Vermont's Long Trail: An Illustrated History. Montpelier, Vt.: The Green Mountain Club, 1985.
Tom Slayton, ed. A Century in the Mountains: Celebrating Vermont’s Long Trail. Waterbury Ctr., Vt.: The Green Mountain Club, 2009.
Citation for this page
Woodsmoke Productions and Vermont Historical Society, “The Long Trail,” The Green Mountain Chronicles radio broadcast and background information, original broadcast 1988-89. https://vermonthistory.org/long-trail-1910