10 Awesome Hiking Groups and Hiking Challenges to Encourage You on Your Hiking Adventures + Additional Hiking Club Resources
Whether you’re a beginner hiker or a veteran of the trails, we all crave community and challenge in our life, and hiking groups and hiking challenges are an awesome way to amp up your hiking goals and intentions throughout the year. Whether you want to simply start hiking more, or you want to hike some bigger objectives and need some buddies to help you train, joining a hiking challenge or hiking group is a great way to discover fun goals, stay motivated, and develop some awesome friendships along the way.
When I talk to my peers and students about hiking, one of their biggest desires is to find a group of people to go out hiking and backpacking with them. Particularly if they are new to hiking and backpacking, sometimes it feels intimidating to hit the trails on your own. So I wanted to provide you all access to some of my favorite resources for finding a community of hikers and backpackers that you can get started and grow with, no matter where you are.
In my post below you will find a list of some of my favorite hiking challenges and groups that can help provide you a hiking community that will encourage you to get outside more and will help you meet like minded hikers in the process. This is by no means an exhaustive list, so if you have a favorite of your own, please let me know in the comments!
So here we go!
hiking challenges & campaigns
I love a good challenge, and there are a bunch of really awesome hiking challenges out there now that will not only inspire you to get outside more and push yourself physically, but also provide you access to an awesome community of hikers and often-times hiking groups focusing on the same challenges.
I’ve listed a few of my favorites below!
1. the 52 hike challenge
Find out more about the 52 Hike Challenge here!
The goal of the 52 Hike Challenge is to get you outside moving every week for an entire year. Throughout each of the 52 weeks in the year you will be challenged to hike at least once. The difficulty and length is entirely up to you, but the point is to get out and to get moving! The resources on their website allow you to track your journey as you complete each weekly hike and earn completion badges as you go. I think this challenge is great for beginners and advanced hikers alike since you can tailor the challenge according to your skill level.
Are you ready for a year of weekly hikes? This may be the motivation you need. This challenge is all about empowering people to take the journey to discover the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits of hiking once a week for an entire year.
2. The Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge
Find out more about the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge here!
This one is one of my favorites, because it was one of my entries into the hiking world here in Southern California when I first moved out here back in 2012. The challenge is well known across Southern California hikers as a great set of training peaks for California 14ers. The Six-Pack of Peaks Challenge happens every year to inspire people to set hiking goals and support support a good cause at the same time! This challenge started in Southern California, but now there are challenges in Colorado, Oregon, Northern California, New England, Arizona, the Pacific Northwest, Utah, and Las Vegas in addition to SoCal.
To participate, you take on the challenge specific to your area and hike the six peaks in the challenge. For example, the Colorado Six-Pack requires you to hike Bergen Peak, Rocky Mountain, Birthday Peak, Horseshoe Mountain, Mount Sherman, and Grays Peak. The peaks increase in difficulty with Bergen Peak standing at 9,708 feet in elevation and the last two mountains reaching over 14,000 feet!
There are three different membership options for the Challenge. Starter costs $35 dollars and gets you access to the challenger hike log and virtual peak badges. It also gets you into the finishers party and connects you with other people in your area who are taking the challenge. The higher levels of membership include extra benefits like sticker packs, patches, and t-shirts.
Your registration dollars go to help two outdoors focused charities: Big City Mountaineers and The Heroes Project. Big City Mountaineers is focused on getting underserved youth outside and providing mentoring in the outdoors. The Heroes Project empowers wounded veterans through outdoor adventure and training.
Looking for some additional training peaks? Check Out these Resources!
3. We Hike to Heal
Find out more about the We Hike to Heal Campaign here!
We Hike to Heal is a month-long women's empowerment and wellness campaign that organizes group hikes all over the world on the last Saturday of March. The organization’s mission is “to encourage women all over the world to tap into the healing and empowering influences within themselves and the Great Outdoors.”
You can join the movement for free in the link above. By joining, you can find free group hikes that will be happening all over the world, in other words, near you, on the last Saturday of March, and join a hike to support the healing powers of the outdoors.
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4. cure-search ultimate hike
Find out more about Cure-Search Ultimate Hike here!
Ultimate Hike is a 20-30 mile trek and not for the faint of heart! This event is put on by CureSearch, a non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for children’s cancer, and is a way to “tell children’s cancer to ‘take a hike.’” These long treks are a way to raise money for the cause and take place on the same day all over the country.
An Ultimate Hike is a weekend event and when you join you can train with a group in one of the official training cities, or you can train from anywhere with online support from a coach and teammates. On the event weekend, lodging, food transportation, and trail support is provided - you will be hiking a marathon or more after all!
These events take place in California on the Pacific Crest Trail, in Texas on the Lone Star Trail, and in 5 other locations across the United States. To join this event that supports an incredible cause, you attend an informational session either in person or on the phone to learn more about the Ultimate Hike. Then register and get your own online fundraising page and raise money to support your trek for children’s cancer research. Lastly, you hike, hike, hike to train for the big day!
5. the 365 mile challenge
Find out more about the 365 Mile Challenge here!
This challenge is great because it is so simple. The goal is to get outside every day in 2019 and walk a mile. This challenge is all about making sure to make time every single day to get outdoors and move for your wellbeing.
This challenge focuses on small efforts that, over time, have big results and focuses on creating healthy habits to benefit your mind, body, and soul. This challenge has an online community to support each other in completing the goal of moving a mile every day. To join all you have to do is register, join the Facebook group, and start moving. If you complete the challenge, you get a patch to commemorate your achievement. Find out more above!
hiking groups & communities
First off, a great place to start when you are looking for a good hiking group in your area is to check out Facebook groups. Try typing in searches into Facebook like, “Hiking Groups California” or “Hiking Groups Seattle” or wherever you happen to live, and I almost guarantee you’ll be able to find something on there to help you connect with a local hiking community. I’ve connected with so many awesome women and groups thanks to the many hiking Facebook Groups out there. These groups are also great places to get suggestions for local area hikes. Sometimes when I’m going to a new area and am looking for hiking recommendations, I’ll write a post in the local groups to ask for peoples favorite hikes in the areas.
If you’re not a big fan of Facebook, another great place to check (which might be obvious) is searching on Google by typing in searches like, “Hiking Groups Near Me”, or “Hiking Clubs Near Me”, and Google will use your location to try and give you the best possible search results.
Lastly, you should also try checking out the options on Meetup.com. Sometimes you can find great local hiking groups on that website, particularly if you live in a big city.
Below I’ve detailed 5 awesome groups you can get connected with if you are looking for hiking companions, or an awesome hiking community. The groups below are, admittedly, biased toward women (but hey, I’m a woman so I tend to know the in-and-outs of womanly hiking things like great women hiking groups!), but I don’t want to leave the men out, so I’ve detailed a few more hiking clubs below for additional reference (plus refer to my tips above!).
1. Women Who Hike
Find out more about the Women Who Hike group here!
The mission of Women Who Hike is to empower and connect women who hike on and off the trail. Women Who Hike was started in 2015 as a social media movement and has become a large community focused on getting outside on the trail.
To join, you can become a member on the website and find one of the many group hikes the organization puts on across the United States. This group has local and regional Facebook groups to allow women to connect and share information. The hosted group hikes are added to the events calendar which is accessible to all members. Women Who Hike is focused on the positive benefits of hiking and that the trail is a place of strength and solace.
2. Mountain Chicks
Find out more about the Mountain Chicks group here!
Mountain Chicks describes itself as “the badass women’s adventure group.” Mountain Chicks is a community for female outdoor enthusiasts who hike, climb, bike, and more.
Mountain Chicks groups host monthly events and retreats through their local chapters and the organization has over 100 thousand members across North America. The local chapters are focused on being women’s hiking groups and also include backpacking and camping activities.
This organization is a way to meet other women who love to hike. The chapters are run via facebook groups and there are chapters in California, Hawaii, Alaska, Wyoming, New England, Texas, Delaware, Utah, Tennessee and many more. Head to the Mountain Chicks website to find out more and join your local chapter!
3. Outdoor Women’s Alliance
Find out more about the Outdoor Women’s Alliance group here!
Outdoor Women’s Alliance isn’t a purely hiking group, but you will find plenty of hike loving women in each of the local chapters called Grassroots Teams. Outdoor Women’s Alliance is an international non-profit that works to inspire confidence and leadership in women of all ages though outdoor adventure.
The Outdoor Women’s Alliance website is a great resource for hiking gear reviews and guidance. You can also connect with local women through the website and join your local Grassroots Teams to join in on the outdoor activities put on by the teams. Each team also has a private facebook group where anyone can post to find hiking partners and plan group hikes.
4. Girls Who Hike
Find out more about the Girls Who Hike group here!
This group was founded in 2015 and now has over 75,000 women members with 57 chapters in the United States. Girls who Hike hosts up to 100 group hikes per month across the nation and has 22,000 women in the Los Angeles chapter. The organization is designed to help connect women with others in their area so they can hit local trails together and develop a community of hikers. Members also utilize the Girls Who Hike Network when they are traveling to meet up with people and find the best local trails wherever they are. More than just hiking, this organization if a place to discuss trail conditions, buy used gear, discuss outdoors issues, and get recommendations.
**If you live in the Southern California area, Girls Who Hike has its own hiking challenge called the City Slicker Challenge. This challenge was created to get more members out on the trail by giving them a chance to win $1,000 if they complete the hiking challenge. To do this challenge, you must join by the challenge start date (the 2019 start date is not currently set) and then you have 60 days to complete the designated trails which total 60 miles. If you are one of the first 60 girls to complete the 60 miles, you are entered in the drawing to win $1,000. You can complete the trails in any order and at any time after the challenge has begun and that prize money is pretty good motivation to get them done quickly!
5. Hike Like a Woman
Find out more about the Hike Like a Woman group here!
Hike Like a Woman is a hiking organization that is super focused on community, both online and in person. Hike Like a Woman has an online presence and community but also has a locals program with ambassadors to connect women with others in their areas via group hikes.
The Hike Like a Woman local chapters are mostly run through private facebook groups where they plan hikes and other local outdoor activities. Hike Like a Woman has chapters all over the United States including Wyoming, the Great Smoky Mountains, Raleigh, Florida, Alaska and Iowa as well as a chapter in Monadnock and New Zealand.
If you are ready to build a local crew of women who love to hike, Hike Like a Woman is a great place to start. Hike Like a Woman also has a podcast, blog, magazine, free newsletter, and adventure book club. The blog features stories from members about their outdoor adventures as well as information about the organization’s activities and giveaways.
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additional hiking club resources:
Looking for more? Here are some additional great resources for group hikes and hiking clubs:
hiking resources on she dreams of alpine
Also be sure to check out these essential outdoor resources!
Again, if you have a favorite hiking group or challenge that I didn’t mention above, let me know in the comments below!
Allison - She Dreams of Alpine