Spanning from regional peak-bagging lists to world-wide supportive communities striving for a common hiking goal, hiking challenges across the country encourage extra exploring. From name-brand adventures like the Six-Pack of Peaks to colorful patches for completing challenges like the Carolina Mountain Club Waterfall Challenge– the only competition involved with the best hiking challenges is the one against yourself. With a baseline denominator of hiking more and experiencing more richness in life, why not challenge yourself to hike a little further.
1. Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge
Participants who register for any official Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge receive route advice and access to an encouraging online community. After signing up, participants strive to bag six designated peaks in the region they choose within a designated calendar span. With part of the proceeds going towards the non-profit Big City Mountaineers, it’s not only the participants that benefit from taking up the challenge.
The original Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge was centered in Southern California, with the Six-Pack including iconic summits like Mount San Jacinto and Mount Baldy (a.k.a. Mount San Antonio). The challenge has spread far in the last five years, however, with new challenges in Central Oregon, New England, and both Arizona in the winter and Arizona in the summer. Future Six-Pack of Peaks Challenges is headed to the Pacific Northwest and Utah.
2. The 52 Hike Challenge
An inspiring online-based hiking challenge that encourages participants to hike once a week for an entire year, the original 52 Hike Challenge offers free support and access to community logs. Great for that extra motivation needed to get outside, those looking to sign up for the 52 Hike Challenge can also buy in to receive patches and medals upon the challenge completion. The organization behind the challenge also puts on numerous community events aimed towards maximizing your trail experience.
3. AMC Four Thousand Footer Club
Also known as the 4K Club, this 60-plus-year-old set of hiking challenges is run by the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC). The first AMC list to aim towards is The White Mountain Four Thousand Footers. Hikers need to bag all 48 of these New Hampshire peaks to get on the finisher’s roster.
From there, the AMC also sponsors the New England Four Thousand Footers and the New England Hundred Highest. For the ultimate goal, the Northeast 111 Club is a coveted group only for those who climb all peaks in the Northeastern United States over 4,000-feet-tall.
4. Carolina Mountain Club Waterfall Challenge
The Carolina Mountain Club has come up with a list of 100 waterfalls that are well worth a visit. While it’s hard to quantify what makes any one waterfall “the best”, the list from the Carolina Mountain Club ensures a wide range of adventures if you try to see them all. The colorful “WC100” patch for completing the challenge is a monumental achievement.
5. Fire Tower Challenge
Sponsored by the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Fire Tower Challenge entails participants making their way to the top of at least 23 fire tower summits in the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains of New York. Climbing to the top of the actual fire tower is not mandatory. At some sites, not legal to do so. If that doesn’t sound challenging enough, a winter version of the full-color patch is available between December and March.
6. Tahoe Rim Challenge
Open to hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians, the Tahoe Rim Challenge offers six annual challenge routes. They each explore some of the best trails that Lake Tahoe has to offer. Participants choose between signing up as a Trail-Blazer or Trail-Explorer, with lengths of the challenge routes varying between the two. From the Frogs and Falls Challenge to the Lake Tahoe Vista Challenge, every route around the Tahoe Rim offers reason enough to get outside.
7. 365 Mile Challenge
A pay-to-play hiking challenge that provides community support towards the goal of trekking a one-mile hike every day of the year. It doesn’t just have to be hiking to complete the 365 Mile challenge, and any self-propelled mile will do. Different memberships levels for the 365 Mile Challenge include different amounts of swag and gear. All members receive access to the positive-encouragement-only private Facebook group of this goal-setting organization. All participating challengers also receive entry into sponsored giveaways.
8. “Hike the Hoodoos!” Challenge
Within Bryce Canyon National Park in southern Utah, “Hike the Hoodoos!” is a great challenge for kids and those who like to be outside. The task is to trek at least three miles within the park along specified trails. All the while collecting special “Hike the Hoodoos” benchmarks along the way. For a heartier challenge, a total of nine benchmarks can be collected, taking at least 18-miles of hiking to accomplish.