Great American Hiking Challenges
In partnership with Merrell
Hiking has always been one of our favorite ways to move in nature. It’s a slow burn, a steady climb, a rhythmic mode of travel that allows our minds to wander as we do. And beyond the daypack essentials, all you really need are good shoes on your feet and a route in mind.
But getting out there consistently, along with knowing where to hike next, can be difficult. So what could motivate us to get out there more often and onto new trails?
A hiking challenge might be the answer.
Because we sometimes need a little external motivation to get us up a new, steep trail, and checking off a list can be oh-so satisfying, we compiled a guide to hiking challenges throughout the United States.
Sorted by region, these hiking challenges can help you go further:
- Northeast Kingdom Mountain Challenge (Vermont)
- New Hampshire 48
- This list includes all 48 peaks over 4,000 feet in NH
- Adirondack 46 (New York)
- The 46 peaks over 4,000 feet in elevation in the Adirondack mountains of northern New York state
- Plus some other Adirondack challenges!
- Moosehead Pinnacle Pursuit (Maine)
- New England Six Pack of Peaks (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, & New Hampshire)
- Connecticut Hiking Challenges
- This list includes several different challenges in Connecticut
- The Terrifying 25 (New Hampshire)
- The most “interesting” treks in the White Mountains
- Vermont’s 4,000-Footers
- There are only 5 of them!
- Fire Tower Challenge (New York)
Check out more Northeast challenges.
- Hike the Smokies (North Carolina & Tennessee)
- Reward: mileage pin for 100, 250, and 500 miles hiked
- South Beyond 6000 (North Carolina & Tennessee)
- Reward: patch for completion
- Pisgah 400 (North Carolina)
- Reward: patch
- Lookout Tower Challenge (North Carolina)
- Reward: patch
- Waterfall and Cascade Challenge (North Carolina, South Carolina, & Tennessee)
- Hike to 100 spectacular waterfalls
- Reward: patch
- North Country Trail Hike 100 Challenge (North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, plus a portion in the Northeastern states of Pennsylvania & New York)
- The challenge is to hike 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail in a calendar year
- Reward: a Hike 100 patch
- Sleeping Bear Dunes Trail Trekker Challenge (Michigan)
- Minnesota State Parks Hiking Club
- Reward: a colorful patch for 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, 150, 175 miles hiked
- Six Pack of Peaks Challenges
- Hike the Hoodos Challenge (Utah)
- This challenge is in Bryce Canyon National Park
- Colorado 14ers Challenge
- Climb all 55 Colorado peaks over 14,000 ft — or just choose ten
- Boulder Trails Challenge (Colorado)
- Idaho 12ers Challenge
- 9 peaks over 12,000 feet
- Washington State Challenges
- This list includes many challenges (big and small) in Washington
- Tahoe Rim Trail Challenge (Nevada & California)
Find more Western hiking challenges.
- Hike for Health Challenge (Arizona)
- Various NPS sites: Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Chiricahua NM, Coronado NM, Fort Bowie NHS, Tumacacori NHP
- Reward: Pins from each NPS site visitor center, with photo proof that you completed the required hike
- Arizona Six Pack of Peaks Challenge
- Northern New Mexico Peak Challenge
- New Mexico 12ers Challenge
- 48 peaks over 12,000 ft
- Big Bend Chisos Peak Challenge (Texas)
What’s your favorite hiking challenge?
This article was produced with support from our brand partner Merrell, who believe the outdoors is for everybody and every body. The hikers featured in these photographs are wearing various Merrell footwear, as specified in captions.