Eastern Continental Trail (2022)

Overview map of the Eastern Continental Trail (ECT) from Key West, Fla. in the southernmost part of the United States to the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada

The enormous 5,700-mile Eastern Continental Trail (ECT) will be the most ambitious undertaking of my entire hiking life, its length totaling more than all the other long-distance trails I have hiked—combined! The trail, or more accurately network of trails, has been dubbed “the beast.” Beginning in the southernmost point in Key West, Fla., the ECT passes through sixteen eastern states all the way to the tip of Maine and into Canada up through Cap Gaspé, Quebec. Then the trail picks up in Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and finally ends in Newfoundland. This is perhaps the grandest of all thru-hikes. The trail beautifully combines the Florida Trail (FT), the Appalachian Trail (AT), and the International Appalachian Trail (IAT), among others, into a continuous footpath. It is unclear how many people have completed or attempted this thru-hike in its entirety as there are no formal records kept. An “entire” hike here is defined such that the Nova Scotia and Newfoundland portions are included. In fact, no comprehensive trail guide even exists for the ECT. The Key West-to-Cap Gaspé journey was first made by John Brinda in 1997 and then popularized by “Nimblewill Nomad” who completed the long-distance hike and wrote about it in his book entitled Ten Million Steps. This experience will be like no other as the extent of the trail’s length is so great. My projected time to complete the hike from Key West to Newfoundland is nine-and-a-half months (December 2021-September 2022).

Google Earth Flyover of Eastern Continental Trail (ECT)

Map of International Appalachian Trail (IAT) Commencing at Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail (AT)

Forty-One Parts of the Eastern Continental Trail (ECT)

The trail can be broken up such that the hiker is blazing one trail system at a time from beginning to completion. These “sub-trails” are further segmented into manageable sections. There is of course much roadwalking (aka yellow-blazing) in order to connect the various footpaths. I broke the trail down into forty-one parts from Key West to Newfoundland.

Part 1: Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT)—Key West

Part 2: Florida Trail Linkage—South Dade Greenway and Florida Trail Connectors

Part 3: Florida Trail (FT)—Big Cypress

Part 4: Florida Trail (FT)—Seminole

Part 5: Florida Trail (FT)—Okeechobee

Part 6: Florida Trail (FT)—Kissimmee River

Part 7: Florida Trail (FT)—Orlando

Part 8: Florida Trail (FT)—Western Corridor

Part 9: Florida Trail (FT)—Ocala

Part 10: Florida Trail (FT)—Northeast

Part 11: Florida Trail (FT)—Suwannee

Part 12: Florida Trail (FT)—Big Bend

Part 13: Florida Trail (FT)—Apalachicola

Part 14: Florida Trail (FT)—Central Panhandle

Part 15: Florida Trail (FT)—Eglin

Part 16: Florida Trail (FT)—Seashore

Part 17: Florida Trail (FT)—Blackwater

Part 18: Alabama Roadwalk—Florida Trail Northern Terminus to Pinhoti Trail Southern Terminus

Part 19: Pinhoti Trail (PT)—“Alabama Section” Pinhoti Trail Southern Terminus to Georgia State Line

Part 20: Pinhoti Trail (PT)—“Georgia Section” Georgia State Line to Benton MacKaye Trail

Part 21: Benton MacKaye Trail (BMT)—Twentymile Ranger Station to Springer Mountain, Appalachian Trail Southern Terminus

Part 22: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Georgia

Part 23: Appalachian Trail (AT)—North Carolina

Part 24: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Tennessee

Part 25: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Virginia

Part 26: Appalachian Trail (AT)—West Virginia

Part 27: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Maryland

Part 28: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Pennsylvania

Part 29: Appalachian Trail (AT)—New Jersey

Part 30: Appalachian Trail (AT)—New York

Part 31: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Connecticut

Part 32: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Massachusetts

Part 33: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Vermont

Part 34: Appalachian Trail (AT)—New Hampshire

Part 35: Appalachian Trail (AT)—Maine

Part 36: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—Maine (Mount Katahdin to Canada)

Part 37: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—New Brunswick

Part 38: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—Quebec

Part 39: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—Prince Edward Island (IATPEI)

Part 40: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—Nova Scotia (IATNS)

Part 41: International Appalachian Trail (IAT)—Newfoundland and Labrador (IATNL)

Eastern Continental Trail (ECT) Mileage Breakdown (Approximately 5,700 Total Miles!)

In terms of mileage for such a vast walk, the following is a breakdown of the ECT. Here is a broad overview of the distances:

Florida Overseas Heritage Trail (117 Miles)

South Dade Greenway (39 Miles)

US 41 Connecting Roadwalk (34 Miles)

Roberts Lake Trail (8 Miles)

Florida Trail (1,129 Miles)

Alabama Roadwalk (200 Miles)

Pinhoti Trail (337 Miles)

Benton MacKaye Trail (59 Miles)

Appalachian Trail (2,193 Miles)

International Appalachian Trail (1,590 Miles)

Calculating the 5,700 Miles

The total length of the ECT depends on the alternates and optional trails the hiker selects. As a northbounder (NOBO), I will be going west around Lake Okeechobee and east around Orlando on the Florida Trail (FT) portion. Since life is brief and I want to live it to the fullest, I have decided to maximize this long-distance hike and not end the trek in Cap Gaspé, Quebec; rather, I will continue hiking on through Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. This brings the total mileage to approximately 5,700 miles (mileage may vary slightly due to trail linkage, roadwalking, and sidetrips). The trail will pass through epic scenery and expose the hiker to abundant wildlife with animals ranging from alligators in the south to caribou (reindeer) in the north. The ECT is a “package deal” for sure but for me it is not a check-off item on the bucket list. I’m not trying to “find myself” or “get in touch” with my inner being; instead, I view this grand end-to-end hike as a chance to live freely among this beautiful earth like never before!

Map redlining calculated distance from Key West to the tip of Newfoundland

More About the Eastern Continental Trail (ECT)

To learn more about the Eastern Continental Trail visit:

https://easterncontinentaltrail.com/

Gear for ECT (Geargrams)

For those of you who may be interested in what gear I will be taking with me on the Eastern Continental Trail, here is a breakdown that records the description and weight of each item. Consumables like food and water are not added to the base weight. The ever-changing weight of consumables, often overlooked, is just as important of a consideration as base weight. All weight must be carried in the end. Although I consider myself a “lightweight hiker,” I am by no means an ultralight gram-counter. There are those few “comfort items” that for me make the weight penalty worth it! Being light as a feather is not the kind of thing that brings meaning to my life. My philosophy is that a tradeoff is made between weight and comfort and that looks different for each person. There are hikers who carry little more than a day pack and get off trail for one reason or another and there are those who carry army surplus stores on their backs yet manage to press on to the end. Remember, the major variable in a successful hike is not weight but the human spirit!

https://www.geargrams.com/list?id=52026

Go Fund Me

Hiking the ECT from Key West to Newfoundland is a dream of mine that I would love to share with others around me! Please consider a donation, no matter how small.  Any money raised will be strictly used for the travel and lodging expenses that incur with the proposed thru-hike. Your support will mean all the difference; in fact, I cannot do it without you. This trip is only possible if I can get others involved and raise the necessary funds before December 1, 2021. 

Nimblewill Nomad (ECT Legend)

Finally, here is a hiker’s prayer made by the legendary ECT thru-hiker Nimblewill Nomad:

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