In the planning stages for my 1st thru hike and wanted some advice on trails. Thinking of the Superior trail in MN or Ozark Trail in MO. Looking to keep it in the 200-300 mile range. Any suggestions or other trails to consider would be much appreciated.
The Long Trail in Vt. fits your distance range. Those lists are very cool, thanks for that OM. They did miss the Taconic Trail near the border of Mass and NY, but not one that I'd recommend except to those of us who live relatively close.
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
The Ouachita, Ozark Highlands, and the Buffalo River trails are worth putting on your list. I'd plan no more than 10 miles a day for those, but you'll feel like you did 15-20 most of those days, and you'll see some wonderful scenery.
All of those trails run through some pretty big tracts of public land. The Buffalo River Trail is almost entirely on public land where you can camp anywhere you want, including right on the banks of the river, which is just beautiful. There are many sweet side trails that lead to some super scenic areas and some pretty big wilderness areas where you can wander around and camp most anywhere.
The best time to go would be from mid-March to mid-April when you'd start before the forest leafs out and watch it happen as you go, or the last week of October to the end of November, when you'll see peak fall colors and the leaves start to fall. It's too hot and buggy in the warmer months, and you have to be ready to get out fast in the colder months when there's a chance of ice storms.
The Ouachita Mountains are pretty cool too. They're unique and rugged and very scenic too. The Highlands trail connects up with the River trail, and most all of it is on public land where you can camp pretty much anywhere you want.
You'll find a lot of solitude on those trails. There's not a lot of thru hikers on them. On a busy day you might see a few small groups of day hikers and a handful of backpackers. You'll likely not run across more than a handful of thru hikers during your entire trip on any of them.