Extreme sports enthusiasts (need to train?) are always in search of their next great adventure and their next big challenge. Granted, hiking isn’t always thought of as the most challenging or difficult activity, but under the right conditions it can be as tough and as grueling as any marathon or mountain biking expedition. For those hikers that are looking to push themselves to the extreme, here is a closer look at
in Mt. Hood, Oregon, which stretches 41 miles and includes an elevation change of 12,000 feet. It’s not so much the overall change in elevation, but the constant change is elevation as you hike through the Oregon Cascades. You’ll change elevation by more than 1,000 feet in the span of a few miles on multiple occasions, and all while you negotiate river crossings in the Pacific Northwest. On top of that, the weather conditions can be quite erratic, including wind, rain, and even blizzards. Most hikers are going to need a few days to traverse this trail, most likely four, and that’s for experienced hikers.
It’s among the toughest hikes, but considering the setting and the views you’ll come across, it should be well worth it if you’re up to it. On the other side of the country there’s a shorter yet challenging trail in Maine called the Bigelow Range Traverse. The trails are steep and rocky, with an elevation change of 10,000 in just 17 miles, and while the summits create spectacular views that stretch for miles, they are quite windy. The trail in itself is difficult, but what makes Bigelow Range Traverse all the more challenging are the black flies of the Maine woods, which are enough to make you finish the hike as soon as possible, if only the trail wasn’t so steep. Every time I am out there, I just marvel at the trails – and I cant believe that people used to go hunting in that area either. What unforgiving terrain. Last time I was out there, I was with my friend Wes from Hunting Insight, and we just could not get over it!
In the Adirondacks of upstate New York there is a near marathon-length hike called the Great Range Traverse, a route that includes nine peaks, including six that are over 4,000 feet in elevation. The total elevation change is over 17,000 feet, as the trail gives hikers an endless array of ups and downs. Those brave enough to try will spend half a mile on the edge of a 700-foot drop, followed by a frightening steep and an exposed descent over open slab rock. The terrain can be quite difficult, and hikers will need to take enough food and water to last the day, as this trail is 25 miles long and should take all day.
Finally, we have one of the nation’s most difficult trails in one of the nation’s greatest national parks: a trail from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim to its North Rim, a stretch of 21 miles. The first step is the seven miles from the South Rim to the Colorado River, dropping you 4,700 feet in elevation; the next 14 miles to the North Rim aren’t quite as steep, but it seems like they go on forever, especially if you go during the wrong time of year and have to deal with the summer heat. If you leave early enough in the morning, you’ll set yourself up for one of the most beautiful sunrises imaginable before crossing the river and continuing to the other rim. It won’t be easy, and the final few miles will be absolutely grueling, but the majestic scenery of the Grand Canyon will make such a difficult hike well worth it.