Frequently Asked Questions
When does the 52 Hike Challenge start?
NOW, so get out there and start counting your hikes! We started the 52 Hike Challenge with the original intention of 52 hikes for the 52 weeks in a year (once a week), so if you learned about this in the middle of the year, you have 52 weeks to start hiking and finish the challenge. We also recognize that once you get started, you will start to really like hiking, and will probably finish soon than 1 year, but please keep in mind that we are only counting one hike per day, so the soonest someone will finish is in 52 days from the date they started. This is NOT a New Year's resolution thing - this is a life changing journey that we want you to embrace for a full year from the date you first learned about the challenge and committed to do it.
What is considered a "Hike"?
The 52 Hike Challenge was designed to help introduce people to hiking as well as be a challenge people can take all over the world. With that said, we recognize it can be difficult to gain access to the wilderness on a weekly basis, so we'll loosely count "getting outdoors" as a hike. This includes a hike in your local park, an urban hike, a snowshoe hike on flat land (for those who are in colder climates), a trail run, a climb in the mountains, etc. If a measurement must be made, we will say a minimum of 1 mile each hike. Now for those who are not a beginner, we expect a lot more than 1 mile from you! You will soon find that 1 mile is not enough and the craving to get outdoors will intensify (a good habit to have), especially if you do a hike that is a little more challenging each time because those mini-goals will really help improve self-confidence and the desire to achieve more. So far we have seen a lot of great improvement from people who were once overweight, so don't knock the 1 mile minimum - even the most advanced hiker will agree that after completing 52 hikes in a year, a person will surely be a lot stronger, healthier, and confident outdoors.
What if I can't hike every week?
No need to fret. You can hike more than once a week within 52 weeks to catch up, if you miss one of the weeks.
What if I fall behind and will not make 52 Hikes in a year?
First off, keep hiking! If it appears that you will not complete 52 hikes since you started your journey, don't get discouraged, reflect on how you've made progress towards a healthier lifestyle and continue. Remember, the 52 Hike Challenge starts when you say, so you can start whenever you are ready to recommit again.
Can I do the 52 Hike Challenge if I am in another country?
YES!! The challenge is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. To date we've had hikers in Canada, Egypt, Poland, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Indonesia and more!
Can I repeat the same hikes or do they have to be all new?
Yes, you can do repeat hikes. We did about 50% of our 52 hikes at the same places, but of course a part of the fun is checking out new trails and scenery.
Is there a list of hikes I need to complete?
No, this is about you making a commitment and getting outdoors more, so it can be something from a walk in your local wilderness trail to a full-fledged mountaineering expedition. If you are local to Southern California, you are welcome to join us or our local hikes, we host a beginner and advanced hike each month so that people can meet each other. Our partners, AllTrails, was generous enough to create an exclusive list of the top 52 hikes in each of the 50 states; download it here! In addition, we find a lot of challengers get hiking ideas from searching what others have posted using hashtag #52HikeChallenge2016. Searching this in Instagram reveals a lot of cool places to put on your bucket list, click this link to see what other challengers are sharing.
How do I find hikes?
Check out our Finding Trails page, you can also do an online search, or buying a local hiking book. :)
How will you keep track of my hikes?
We will be using social media and a bit of the honor system. To do this, we ask that you post a picture of your hike on social media and tell us what hike number it is by using hashtags. For example, hike one will be #hike1, hike two will be #hike2, and so on, as well as tagging us at #52HikeChallenge2017 and @52HikeChallenge so that we can see your progress. We also hope that in the process you encourage more friends and family to get outdoors and join you! In addition, we have provided Hiking Logs for you to download and strongly encourage you to keep track of your hikes to help you stay motivated. Please be sure to tell us where some of your favorite hiking spots are when you finish the challenge!
For the Adventure Series, can I complete several objectives in one hike?
We are not big on telling people what they can and can't do, but we can tell you the Adventure Series was designed to have each of the objectives done separately. We encourage you to take your time through the 52 Hike Challenge, embracing each activity on it's own to really get the benefits they have to offer.
Is there a new 2017 Challenge? Is the Challenge going on next year?
The 52 Hike Challenge is ongoing. It doesn't end. We have committed to doing our life work - which is to get more people outdoors for mental, physical and spiritual benefits derived from hiking. The Challenge is going on for 2017, 2018, 2019... Finally, there is a new challenge for 2017 - the Explorer Series, get more information on that here.
Can I count previous hikes? I just found out about the challenge and have been hiking quite a bit already.
Yes, but to be fair to the other challengers who started in January 2015, we would say it's OK to count the hikes after that date. Remember, you have one year to complete the challenge from the date you choose to "start" and this challenge is about immersing yourself in nature for one year to gain the physical, mental, and spiritual benefit that come from hiking, so don't cheat yourself.
Why did you start this Challenge?
Most of it is covered under "About Karla and Phillip". We really believe getting outdoors can change people's lives for the better, and having the 52 Hike Challenge as a goal that is very attainable with persistence and dedication, will lead to proper discipline in achieving other life goals. Phillip lost 80 pounds by hiking and Karla was a beginner hiker who worked her way up to not just 52 hikes in a year, but also the top of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States (Mt. Whitney). As you can imagine, we have had a great journey and our lives have changed - we also believe if we can do it, so can you!
Will I be doing the hikes with you?
We really want everybody around the world to be doing this - and we just can't be everywhere at the same time, so unfortunately no. However, we plan on hosting a hike once a month (mostly in Southern California) and may have additional pop-up hikes that occur in other areas, please be sure to follow us on our social media accounts where we announce our group trips. Other than than, we hope we gave you all the resources (clothing/gear recommendations and hiking groups) you need to get started in your area!
If I were to go on a multi-day backpacking trip, do I count the whole hike as one, or is each day considered a new hike?
It is up to you, you can count each day as a hike or just count the complete event as one long hike. :)
I'm up for the Challenge! How do I get started?
Please see our detailed instructions under "Guide To The Challenge" tab.
Are there any prizes or awards?
Did someone say bragging rights? Personal growth?! Physical fitness?!! All jokes aside, we are super stoked you took the challenge and definitely want to hook you up for being awesome! We are looking to get more sponsors to hook you up with giveaways and so far have a few on board so we can pass out goodies if you come to one of our local hikes :) As for now...don't you have some hiking to do?! ;-)
What is this Reflection Hike in the Adventure Series all about and what should I be reflecting on?
This varies throughout the phase you are in, please read all the detail here.
I just finished my 52 Hike Challenge, now what?
If you have been posting photos and tagging us, we probably know who you are and that you have just made it to our awesome list! Please go to our "Finished?" tab and fill out our interview form - mainly questions on how you progressed and how your life has changed for the positive. We would love to feature your story on our website along with your words of wisdom to inspire others...and we might also include your story in our book! Even if you don't have a story or just shy, please submit this form because we want all the finishers to be listed in the honor roll section of our book. As for the technicality of having the challenge span over a calendar year, your name will appear in the book on the year your finished the challenge. If that wasn't enough, we encourage you to keep up your fitness because we are also planning some amazing treks around the world and some mountaineering trips too!
I'm a beginner, will I be able to do these hikes?
If you have any concerns, we advise you to talk to your doctor before starting any physical fitness activities. In our opinion, if you start with walking a mile or two on a flat dirt path, you will be able to build from there. When Phillip was 80 pounds overweight, he was still able to hike 3-5 miles on easy terrain, albeit slowly, and with a lot of rest breaks (but great for stopping to take photos).
How many miles should I be increasing to each week?
First we must include a disclaimer and say we strongly suggest you talk with your physician before beginning any exercise program. You can contact a physical fitness trainer to create a custom program or if you have a decent fitness baseline (i.e. you exercise 4 times or more/ week), then you can probably expect to increase your mileage by 1-2 miles per week (without a heavy backpack), up to 20ish miles. Anything over 20 miles will create wear and tear for the most advanced hikers, so please be cautious to advance too quickly as this may lead to an over-use injury (i.e. knee pain). Phillip is an advanced hiker, but likes to keep trail running to about 5 miles per outing, about 4 times during the week, and this fitness regiment allows him to go all day on the weekends hiking peaks that have >4,000 elevation gain.
What about Bears, Mountain Lions, Rattlesnakes, and other dangerous animals?
It is very rare that people are attacked, despite what you see in the news. Most of these animals are afraid of humans, so give them space to run away if you do happen to come across any of these. As an extra precautionary measure, please read about the wild animals in your area and learn what to do.
What should I bring on a hike? What are the 10 Essentials for Survival?
If you are just beginning and going for a hike on a well defined trail for 1-3 miles, less than 500 foot elevation gain, and plan to go for an hour or two, we suggest the following: 1-2 liters of water, snack, sunblock, hat, and proper clothing for weather. We highly advise bringing the Classic 10 essentials, which consist of life-saving gear: Navigation, Sun Protection, Insulation, Illumination, First Aid, Fire, Repair Kit, Nutrition, Hydration, and Emergency Shelter. Please see our Essential Gear List for what we specifically recommend. We like to use trail runner shoes because they have more grip, but if you are just beginning and the terrain is relatively flat, you can use tennis shoes. As you go on longer hikes, please eliminate all cotton (including cotton underwear) and replace it with synthetic or polyester clothing that has moisture wicking properties to avoid rashes and chafing. Cotton and other materials that absorb sweat can lead to hypothermia among other problems, so replace them as soon as you can. Synthetic underwear can be a bit pricey, but worth it, especially since they are quick drying and have odor eliminating properties.
What if I fall or get hurt?
We strongly advise you go with a partner is case an accident occurs. If you still plan to go alone, please tell someone where you are going and when you will return. The 52 Hike Challenge and all of it's associates are not responsible for anything that happens to you by taking on this challenge, you are hiking at your own risk.
What about snow and icy conditions?
We really believe in playing it safe - take a class and enhance your knowledge on how to use equipment. Year after year people get hurt and "worse" because they want to try their new Ice Axe, Crampons or other gear without proper training. We don't want to see that happen to anyone, so please realize the mountain will be there for years to come and there are literally millions of other trails to explore that are safe.
Do I need to worry about hiking alone?
We strongly suggest you tell someone where you are going and when you will return. Hiking sticks can be used as a weapon and you might want to consider hiking with pepper spray if you are concerned about anybody trying to attack you. If you going alone, we also suggest you only go where you will have cell phone reception if you need to call anybody for help. Our friends at Cairn App will help you identify places where you have reception, so check them out.