The Author

PiperChad Killingsworth (trail name: Piper) is an avid long-distance hiker. Chad has been hiking since he was a child, but his introduction to long-distance hiking came on the Applachian Trail in 2002. Chad has now also hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail – thus completing the Triple Crown.

Chad typically hikes with Kevin Jacobs whom he first met and hiked with on the Appalachian Trail.

Long Distance Hiking

What qualifies as a long-distance hike is debatable, but it’s safe to say that if it isn’t at least 100 miles, it doesn’t count. America has a large list of long-distance trails.

Triple Crown of Hiking

Hiking the entire length of the premier long distance trails is known as the Triple Crown of Hiking.

  1. The Appalachian Trail (AT): the oldest and most well known of the trails . The AT is often a hiker’s introduction to long-distance trails. It’s relatively large numbers of thru-hikers (over 1000 each year) make it a very social trail. It’s also the easiest trail to complete as it has a low technical difficulty and is very easy to resupply. AT hikers are well known by the towns nearby and hikers have a large number of hostels and other services available.
  2. The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT): traversing the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, the PCT is 2600 miles of spectacular beauty. The PCT is less well known and more technically challenging making it a more isolated hiking experience. Around 500 hikers a year attempt the hike. Challenges of this hike include long dessert stretches, high alpine snow navigation and less hostels and other town support options.
  3. The Continental Divide Trail (CDT): following the continental divide through the U.S. Rocky Mountains, the CDT ranges from 2600 to 3000 miles. The variation in route length is due to the fact that frequently hikers must choose their own route. The CDT is the most remote, least well known and most technically challenging of the trails with typically less than 30 hikers a year attempting it.

Trail Names

While hiking, Chad goes by the pseudonym “Piper” in reference to the Irish penny whistle he carries and often plays.  Trail names are a tradition started on the Appalachian Trail. In fact, they are so frequently used, hikers may never know the real names of their fellow hikers. Read more about trail names.

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