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10 challenging hikes to train for

Athletes in Motion
Athletes in Motion
August 1, 2022
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If you're a seasoned hiker trying to get a new badge to brag about to your outdoorsy buddies, here is a list of challenging hikes to train for. Remember, many of these trails are out and back, so just making it to the end isn’t enough. Some of the factors that went into the ranking included danger of trail, elevation, incline, number of injuries/deaths per year.

Make sure to read our article How Veterans can get free entrance to National Parks

10. MOUNT MARATHON- AK 

Known as “the toughest 5K in the world.” Featuring over 3,000 feet of incline over just 3 miles. The city of Sewerd, Alaska holds an annual race on July, 4th.

9. PACIFIC CREST TRAIL- CA 

One of the longest trails in the country, at 2,650 miles long. Any section is worth hiking, especially through the Mojave Desert, peaks of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade range. It even stretches out to Mexico and up into Canada. If you're looking for a doozy, this is it.

8. LARCH MOUNTAIN TRAIL- OR 

With 15 miles of wilderness to explore, the steep inclines are hard to make it worth it. This trail has an elevation gain of over 4,000 feet, with its highest point being 4055 feet. The Larch Mountain Trail is just part of the Multnomah-Wahkeena Trail Loop.

7. LAKE CONSTANCE, OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK- WA 

Considered the hardest hike in the park. Though only five miles long, the hike can become very treacherous and steep at times. Sharper angles of incline making the summits harder to climb.

6. SKY POND VIA GLACIER GORGE TRAIL- CO 

Stretching just over 9 miles, this trail doesn't get all too high from the base of colorado. This trail is one of the longest trails in the state. This hike will leave you breathless, from the views and the elevation.

5. SUPERSTITION RIDGELINE- AZ 

This whopping 10.7 mile long hike takes an average of 7+ hours to hike. However, don't expect to be left all alone. Though difficult, it is regularly traveled by other hikers as the views and bird watching makes up for the extreme effort.

4. HIGHLINE TRAIL- MT 

The trail can be broken down into two parts, where there is a natural lull. However, in full this hike stretches over 19.5 miles. With all hikes, the biggest concern is bear encounters, and in Big Sky Country, that is something you'd be sure to look out for.

3. DEATH CANYON- WY 

The name says it all. In reality, this trail is pleasant with views that make the climb up the 6,000 feet of elevation worth it. Though the name may be daunting, the name actually comes from one of the first people to hike it, who never returned. Back in those days, anybody taking this hike was risking death. Don’t forget to hydrate and watch your step!

2. PRECIPICE TRAIL- ME 

Don't let the distance fool you, though just about a mile long, this trail bites back. Considered the hardest trail in Acadia national park, the summit reaches over 1000 feet in quite a short amount of time. With such a steep incline, the trip up is one to be proud of.

1. ANGELS LANDING -UT

Considered one of the most dangerous hikes in the United States. Though not as long as one may expect, only about 5 miles roundtrip, it is expected that hikers take 3-6 hours to complete. It is famous for busy two way traffic on very small paths and hikers needing a permit to use this trail. You’ll need a lot of patience for this one. The most extreme aspect of this trail? The heights. Don't look down!

Waking up before the crack of dawn for a ruck is one thing, but waking up that early on your own accord is another. Though essentially the same thing, a mandatory ruck around base and a pleasant trail hike can evoke totally different emotions. If you're an active person and enjoy nature, chances are you hike a lot. Make sure to stop to take pictures for memories that you’ll look back on when you’re old.

About the author: Samantha Harvill graduated, with honors, from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelors of Science in Emergency Medicine and was recently commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Army Reserves. She is an avid runner, and is currently training for her next marathon.
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