The trail was constructed to take advantage of rail transportation, with the terminus at both ends beginning at the local New York Central Railroad stations of the two communities. In 1923, there were only a few good roads in the Adirondacks, and cars were nowhere near as prevalent as they are today.
Although The NPT was originally 133 miles long, the southern end now begins in Upper Benson, a few miles north of Northville. The north end is the Chubb River bridge on the Averyville Road in Lake Placid, a few miles from the old train station. These changes diminish the trail's total distance to about 121 miles, but it also reduces the hiking on highways.
Despite the fact that the trail will be a century old in 2011, it may actually be "wilder" today, than when it was first developed.
In the 1920s, lumbering was still a major Adirondack industry and much of the land, and the rivers bore industrial scars, or burned over lands.
In fact, many sections of trail incorporated old logging roads that had been designed by "road monkeys", those talented wood's engineers that utilized the terrain so that horses could efficiently haul log sleds. As a result of the monkeys' marvelous engineering, the NPT is also one of the finest backcoutry ski trails in the country.
Although the trail has experienced numerous reroutes and changes over the years, it remains true to its origins. For hikers interested in a complete "end to end" experience, the NPT provides one of the finest experiences in the eastern United States.
The trail, developed to pass near various communities and cross a few roads, makes it easy restock supplies. Some hikers purchase provisions in towns along the route, while others deposit food caches near highway crossings in advance.
While the route typically takes about two and a half weeks to complete, the growing popularity of trail running has greatly diminished this time.