If you’re looking to get in shape with an exciting hiking challenge, then one of America’s most popular trails has something awesome to offer this year. In celebration of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary, the North Country Trail Association is getting together to bring hikers everywhere the 100 Mile Hiking Challenge. It won’t be easy, but it will be fun; especially for outdoor enthusiasts who are trying to reach various fitness goals this year:
The North Country Scenic Trail:
The North Country Scenic Trail begins at Crown Point, NY, right near Lake Champlain. Though there are many, many trails to be hiked in New York State, it’s no doubt that NY is proud to host the starting point of this famous trail. Running through seven states, this trail is the longest out of the eleven National Scenic Trails, stretching 4,600 miles. It overlaps with several other trails, such as the Finger Lakes Trail, and there are plans to have it connect with the Appalachian Trail in Vermont as well. Though it’s possible to take the North Country Scenic Trail all the way to the middle of North Dakota, this hiking challenge only requires you to do 100 miles. (Yes, only 100…).
As part of the hiking challenge, you’ll be able to see some of the most beautiful parts of the country. Pass through the Adirondacks, visit scenic parts of New York and other states that are often skipped over, and keep on heading west for miles and miles. You’ll reach the Finger Lakes, hike through sites of the Revolutionary War, pass through national forests, hike in Old Erie Canal State Park, and have the option to keep on going as far as North Dakota. From vast farmland to the outskirts of larger cities, this 100 mile challenge can take you anywhere you please. You’ll see some gorgeous sections of the eastern United States, lined with lush green hills, breathtaking waterfalls, mesmerizing crystal lakes, and endless valleys.
The best part about this hiking challenge is that it’s flexible. Anyone who can complete 100 miles this year either consecutively or at their own pace will receive a special patch and a certificate. You’ll also be eligible for certain prizes and free resources. While the North Country Trail Association is happy to offer these incentives, hopefully trail-goers will already possess the intrinsic motivation required to conquer this incredible challenge. After all, the non-profit association is already doing so much to keep this trail in pristine condition for future generations of hikers to come.
How to get involved:
So, you’re interested in taking up the challenge, but you’re not quite sure where to start. Luckily, there are a lot of resources out there to help you get one step closer to achieving 100 miles. The first thing you need to do is register for the challenge. Head to northcountrytrail.org to sign up and to also get an idea of which route you’d like to take as you complete the challenge. Take a look at the different areas you can pass through, as well as other events celebrating the trail throughout the year. View the calendar to sign up for sections of the hike with new friends. Don’t forget to read and use the hashtag #Hike100NCT to learn more and join the community of this amazing initiative. Also, join the North Country Trail Association’s e-mail list to keep up with the latest news. The celebration and the challenge started this January 1st, so you still have plenty of time to start tracking your progress!
The 100 Mile Hiking Challenge is open to all ages, and it’s a great way to encourage children to get outside. If you are unable to hike all 100 miles all at once, don’t feel bad doing the same easy hike over and over again until you reach 100 total miles. It all counts! If you sign up for the mailing list, you’ll be given a digital toolkit to keep track of all the miles you do and begin the countdown to 100.
Are there other challenges going on?
Yes! Because it’s the National Park Service’s 100th birthday, you can bet there will be organizations all over the country participating in similar challenges; you just need to know where to look. If you can’t make it to the eastern United States to take on the North Country Scenic Trail, then do some research on hikes and specific challenges closer to home.
Though it might not exactly be for the same purpose, other challenges in the country include Allegheny-100 Hiking Challenge, which is a sub-challenge of this one, the 52 Hike Challenge, the Hike 40 in 2016, the New River Gorge’s 100 Mile Challenge Start Up Hike. There are also many hiking challenges in backpacking destinations around the world, which are definitely worth looking into.
No matter which challenge you choose to do-one of these challenges, or one you design yourself-it will be a great way to get started on your fitness goals for this year all while joining in on a great cause.