Is it okay to go backpacking again? Especially if I have to fly to a far away trailhead?
If you are just talking big 3 then I agree with @Philreedshikes but generally not so much.
The more you look the more East West oriented trails you will find...
Technically the Appellation Trail runs NE SW so is it really North-South? Only really by convention.
The "lowest to highest" route is not technically a trail but it runs East West.
The High Sierra Trail is basically East West
The Florida trail has very little to do with mountains. It runs partially East West and Partially North South. About 500 miles of the 1500 miles are road walking so the "direction" of public lands only partially influence the trail direction.
The Oregon desert trail is East West.
You can make some generalizations but since there are number of trails that run East West or loop the question is moot.
Here's a map showing a few of them...
Late to the party, sorry, and it looks like it's all been said. Mostly geography; mountain ranges and rivers run north-ish and south-ish, for the most part.
I'd like to add an additional (potential) reason - Illinois.
There are many things I like about living in Northern Illinois but the amazing, sweeping vistas are not one of them.
Figure out an East-West trail that avoids the drudgery of hiking across this state (perhaps a shuttle service LOL) and there'd likely be more people doing it.
(yes, this post is tongue in cheek... mostly)
Nope There are plenty of East West trails. Here you go...
The river to river trail is 151.8 miles
"Trail starts at Elizabethtown on the Ohio River and ends at Devil's Backbone on the Mississippi River. Great way to experience the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois."
A few years ago, I watched a nice video series on YouTube about this trail. The hiker walked it during the Thanksgiving holiday, and had some challenging weather.
Here is the link to the playlist on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0weGVw4AjFp0O9kNL-mSn4eKRdTq51ey
I enjoy watching hiking series as I can do so one or two videos at a time. Plus, the more videos for a trail, the more detail one can see.
I welcome comments as to if the reader had heard of this trail, and if so - hiked any part of it.
Hi John. Hope you got moved ok.
RE: East-West Trail
I have one for you, the Ouachita Trail.
This trail is 223 miles long, running from in the west, Talimena State Park (Oklahoma) to Pinnacle Mountain State Park (near Little Rock, Arkansas). Most of the trail (192 miles) is within the Ouachita National Forest. The remaining 30+ miles are on private or state-owned lands in central Arkansas.
There are various side trails to view points, camp sites, water, and intersecting trails. The 37-mile Womble Trail is the longest of the "side" trails, and is open to hikers and bikers.
The trail is marked with traditional 2x6 inch blue paint blazes using the standard blazing conventions. There are 21 trail shelters, which were built and maintained by the trail club "Friends of the Ouachita Trail - FoOT". Here is a link to their web site: https://friendsoftheouachita.org/wp/
Here is a link to the US Forest Service page for the trail: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/fsm9_039448.pdf
Finally, here is a link to general information for the Ouachita Trail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouachita_National_Recreation_Trail
There are several video series on YouTube about this trail.
If I wasn't so involved with trying to finish the remaining 1165 miles of the AT, I'd love to try this. Based on all I've read, it is well marked and maintained, and is lightly used.
I welcome any comments regarding if the reader has heard of this trail or has walked it?