Frequently Asked Questions

Hiking a new long-distance trail in the Caucasus can lead to many questions about feasibility, safety, logistics, and more. We’ve attempted to provide as much information as possible throughout our website to both acquaint you with the trail and ease the planning stage for those of you thinking about or preparing to hike the TCT. If you still have questions after browsing the website, take a look and see if your question appears below. If not, feel free to get in touch with us at [email protected].


Who hikes the trail?

TCT hikers come from all over the region and all over the world, from an incredibly wide range of ages and backgrounds. People use the trail for day hikes, multi-day hikes, and multi-month thru-hikes.

In 2022 and 2023, TCT long-distance hikers came from all over the world and ranged from age 18-76. People hiked solo and with partners, friends, and family members.

Since many parts of the trail are still relatively unknown in the global hiking community, you’re unlikely to meet many other hikers on most sections of the trail. But there is a wide and growing TCT community. Join our TCT Trailblazers community to meet a diverse group of people who share your interest in hiking in the Caucasus. 


When is the best time to hike the trail? 

You can hike the TCT year-round, depending on which sections you choose. See our recommendations and the best time of year to hike specific sections of the trail. 


Can I hike the whole TCT?

The North-South route of the TCT through Armenia and Georgia is now open to thru-hikers. But it’s important to understand that this route is still in active development. Some sections are entirely off-trail, with bushwhacks that our trail crews are working to turn into sustainable trails. Other sections have substantial road walks that we aim to reroute in the future. Between Armenia and Georgia, the Armenia section of the TCT is closer to a “finished” state (although a long-distance trail is never truly finished!).

The East-West route of the TCT through Azerbaijan and Georgia is in an earlier stage of development. There are sections that are hikeable in Guba-Gusar, Sheki-Zagatala, and Tusheti. But attempting a full thru-hike is not advisable at this point due to the multiple administrative challenges hikers have had trying to connect other sections in Azerbaijan, as well as the current lack of trail infrastructure along several parts of the route and therefore the massive amount of road walking that would likely be required. We are actively working on developing more sections of this route, however, so stay tuned!

If you’re more keen for a section hike, several hundred kilometers of trail exist that make excellent multi-day or multi-week trips. In Georgia, there are spectacular treks through the regions of Samegrelo, Svaneti, Racha, Samtskhe-Javakheti, Mtianeti, Khevsureti, Tusheti, Lagodekhi National Park, and Borjomi National Park. In Armenia, any section of the thru-hike can make a great trip, but we particularly recommend the sections of Lori, Dilijan National Park, the Gegham Mountains, Vayots Dzor, and southern Syunik. In Azerbaijan, check out the Guba-Gusar and Sheki-Zagatala sections and stay tuned for more coming soon.

If you’re interested in thru-hiking the TCT, find out more information. If this sounds like the right challenge for you, contact us about joining our Trailblazers program.


Is it dangerous to hike in the Caucasus?

Hiking in the Caucasus entails many of the same risks that hikers find anywhere in the world. Some parts of the TCT travel through areas that require knowledge and experience of hiking in high-alpine environments. If you don’t have that experience, we recommend hiring a guide. 

In addition to the hazards posed by steep terrain and mountain weather, hikers should be prepared for difficult route-finding and challenging trail conditions, the possibility of washed-out bridges and dangerous river crossings in high water, aggressive dogs guarding sheep and cattle, giant hogweed, and frequent summer thunderstorms with extremely intensive periods of lightning. Access to emergency medical care and search and rescue is not always available. Hiking the TCT requires good judgment and the willingness to turn back if necessary.

Like any environment that includes people, there is also the possibility of unpleasant encounters. In general, the hospitality of the Caucasus is legendary, and the vast majority of people you meet will be kind and eager to host you, feed you, and help you on your way. However, it is important to practice logical caution. Solo female hikers in particular have reported occasional unwanted advances, but an unpredictable encounter can happen to anyone. Trust your instincts about strangers and conditions. Pay attention to details of your surroundings and people you encounter, and look for anything that does not fit or sends a red flag. It is easier to avoid getting into a dangerous situation than to get out of one. 

We urge all hikers to have a safety plan. Take a wilderness first aid class. Leave behind a copy of your itinerary with a trusted contact, check in regularly, and establish a procedure to follow if you fail to check in or show up when expected. Make a bail-out plan for each section. Carry a personal locator beacon or satellite device so you can call for help if needed, keeping in mind that help may still take a long time to arrive.

Read more about safety recommendations and emergency contact information in the Caucasus.


What about the border situation and regional conflicts? Is that safe?

You must only cross borders at official crossings. Crossing borders anywhere else will lead to serious complications. Some maps do not show the recognized border crossings. It is also important to note that some borders in the region are not recognized or agreed upon by all parties. It is your responsibility to make sure you are not illegally crossing any borders. If you stay on the TCT route, this will not be a problem.

Despite the region’s disputed borders, flare-ups of conflict with the potential to affect the TCT trail corridor are rare. The trail does not go through any disputed areas, and in general, the security situation along the trail corridor is stable. We encourage hikers to come discover the Caucasus beyond the often overly dire headlines. 

In the 8 years of working on the TCT, we have issued evacuation advisories for hikers only twice. Those responses turned out to be overly cautious, but we will continue to stay carefully attuned to the situation and to share future warnings if necessary, just as we would do for any other trail condition hazards or natural disasters. (Join our TCT Trailblazers forum to make sure you get any relevant updates from our team about trail conditions, including security along the trail.)

Regardless of the situation at any given time, it is important to keep in mind that these situations can change quickly. It is always advisable to check any government travel warnings prior to travel. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own safety.


Can I wander across the borders in the mountains?

No, you must only cross borders at official crossings. Crossing borders anywhere else will lead to serious complications. Some maps for planned trails on this website do not show the recognized border crossings. It is also important to note that some borders in the region are not recognized or agreed upon by all parties. It is your responsibility to make sure you are not illegally crossing any borders.


Do I need permits to hike the TCT?

You don’t need any permits to walk most of the TCT, although you do need to check in with the rangers in certain protected areas, and some national parks require a small usage fee. 

In Armenia, the two national parks along the border (Arevik National Park and Lake Arpi National Park) have requested that all trail users register in advance. We’ll provide you with information on how to do this online so you don’t have to spend time making in-person visits to park headquarters. 

In Georgia, you need to have a border permit to be in the border zone (between Zeskho and Ghebi) along the Russian border. We’ll provide further instructions on how to obtain a border permit, depending on your direction of travel. Additionally, one section of trail in Borjomi National Park requires registration at the national park ranger stations. 

Generally, be mindful of your impact on the land and the people around you. The trail crosses many villages and multi-use land, including farming, grazing, and logging. Wild camping is widely tolerated, but you should ask permission before pitching up in someone’s field. Please be a respectful visitor and practice Leave No Trace habits so we can continue our good relationships with people along the trail and so future hikers can also enjoy the experience.


Are there any official regulations regarding campfires? 

There are no official national-level regulations, but several of the national parks / protected areas have their own restrictions. You’ll see signs promoting the regulations (and unfortunately also often evidence of people disregarding those signs – please don’t be one of them!)

Pay attention to the terrain around you, think about forest fire risk, and err on the side of caution. Make sure to use established fire rings and extinguish the fire completely. See our Leave No Trace advice for more information and recommendations.


What gear do I need to bring? (Do I need a tent?)

The gear required for your hike depends on which section(s) you’re hiking and your preferred hiking style. While you’ll find plenty of guesthouses along some sections of the TCT, you’ll absolutely need a tent, food, and cooking equipment for others. Read the trail notes carefully for the section(s) you plan to hike so you can prepare properly. 


What food should I bring with me? 

This depends on how long your hike is and your preferred tastes. The Caucasus should be more famous for its delicious cuisine, so if you’re looking to taste some local dishes during your hike, you’ll have ample opportunity. Learn more about specific dishes in each country, many of which are hiking-friendly, here

If you’re more interested in learning about the types of nutrients you’ll need along the trail, check out this page


Where can I get food on the trail?

You can buy food in local markets in towns and villages and larger grocery stores in cities. A night at a guesthouse usually includes two meals, so you’ll be well-fed if you’re staying at guesthouses. Some guesthouses also offer food for people not staying the night, so if you want a hearty meal that doesn’t consist of instant noodles, ask at the nearest guesthouse. For more information, see our page about where to get food on the trail


What type of stove should I bring? 

For shorter hikes, a UTC-threaded canister will suffice, but if you’re thru-hiking the trail, we recommend taking an alcohol stove or multi-fuel stove. For more detailed information, check out our page on choosing the right stove to determine which type suits your needs. 


How do I get to the trailheads? 

Find information about how to get to the trailhead for your specific hike on the trail notes for your hike or read more about general transportation information in the Caucasus.

What wildlife might I see on the trail?

Check out our page on wildlife for information on possible wildlife sightings!


I want to hike and volunteer on the trail. Can I do both? 

Yes! You’re very welcome to sign up to participate in a volunteer crew before or after your hike–we’d love to have you join! Volunteering is a wonderful way to enrich your hiking experience and to give back to the region. Many of our volunteers hike part of the trail before or after they volunteer (and see the trail in a whole new light!)


How will you build a trail in a region with breakaway territories and frozen conflicts?

It won’t be easy and it may take many years but we believe it is possible. People have crossed these mountains for centuries and we hope it will become easier to cross certain areas in the decades ahead. By building a trail, we aim to help spur more positive and ambitious approaches to collaboration in the region.

In the meantime, there are hundreds of kilometers of trail to hike. See you in the mountains!


Don’t see your question here? Get in touch by emailing us at [email protected]