I've started my latest personal adventure: hiking the nation's scenic trails.
Just a normal American taking some time to explore the country - no records, not the first, youngest, oldest, or fastest. Just doing something I've wanted to do, and challenging myself to get it done.
You're welcome to join me - virtually or physically, for as long as you'd like.

I am challenging every Boy Scout and Scouter to earn the ScoutStrong PALA award while I am on the trail. If that's you, check out my ScoutStrong Instructions and join the fun.

These are the long trails I would like to complete over the years. The trail miles are rounded estimates and you'll see different miles other places.

AT Hiking
(click for larger image)

  1. Arizona Trail Arizona NST - COMPLETED - 800 miles - March-April 2012 - requires hiking early in the season since water is scarce and heat is intense as summer approaches. Provides a great opportunity to test out equipment, abilities, endurance, and processes. Lets me be home for my youngest son's high school graduation.
  2. Superior Hiking Trail Superior Hiking Trail - COMPLETED - 250 miles - September 2012 - hiked from Canada south to Duluth, MN. Southern 50 miles were closed so I will hike that next fall when the trail is open. September had no bugs nor humidity, just a bit of rain, and awesome fall colors in the forests. This isn't a National Scenic Trail, but is part of the NCT and I was antsy to do another trek before winter.
  3. Ice Age Trail Ice Age NST - COMPLETED - 1100 miles - August-September 2013 - Close to home and I had relatives at two locations along the trail for support while I hiked across Wisconsin with PapaBear. .
  4. Appalachian Trail Appalachian NST - 2200 miles - After planning, replanning, and changing the plan even more, it looks like I'll have time to do half the AT in 2015.
  5. Pacific Crest Trail Pacific Crest NST - 2600 miles - northbound. Two years to complete.
  6. Continental Divide Trail Continental Divide NST - 3100 miles - southbound. This is the most rugged and difficult of all the national scenic trails.
  7. North Country Trail North Country NST - 4600 miles - eastbound starting around Cincinnati.
  8. Florida Trail Florida NST - 1200 miles - snakes, panthers, swamps, and insects. Must do it around Christmas time to minimize heat and other hurdles.
  9. Pacific Northwest Trail Pacific Northwest NST - 1200 miles - through the mountains where I grew up.
  10. Natchez Trace Trail Natchez Trace NST - 700 miles
  11. Potomac Heritage Trail Potomac Heritage NST - 700 miles
  12. New England Trail New England NST - 220 miles

From initial research I've done, there's no camping nor connecting routes for the last three and thru-hiking them isn't really a probability.

I do have some goals for this adventure, not just to burn through a few pairs of shoes. I will:
  • Connect with scouts - Scout troops along my treks are invited to hike with me for a couple hours or days. I'll have a tracking device so folks can see where I am. That's Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or (what the heck) anyone that wants to do a short hike.
  • Promote lighter-weight trekking. When scouts try to Be Prepared, we overpack and make life more difficult than needed on the trail. I'll be an example of how to go light but still be comfortable and safe.
  • Promote Leave No Trace. I always try to follow the ethics of the seven LNT principles, but they are still unknown to many people that make use of our wild areas. I'll consistently demonstrate the outdoor ethics of minimizing impact. Read more about Leave No Trace.
  • Record the Fun - through blogs, reports, stories, and journals I'll track and share the experience, providing a resource to help others planning their own adventures.

Hike On: Hiking Links

 Feb 18, 2012 - Nancy
Your itinerary looks like something I'd put together. I'd love to do all of them, too. If only I were independently wealthy.
Feb 20, 2012 - Hiking Dude
Nancy - if the passion or desire to do something is strong enough, it can usually be worked out.  Maybe a different form than first thought, but still done.  Section hiking long trails is a common way to break them into shorter hikes, for example.  I'm doing the shorter AZT now because that's all I have time for until late summer.
Apr 09, 2012 - Matt
I really appreciate your interest, commitment, and enthusiasm with Scouting! As an Eagle scout (1994) and a Cubmaster, I appreciate these great resources. Not only are you helping to equip our boys but also adults like me who are preparing and hoping to do a long-distance hike like the AT. Thanks:)
Apr 25, 2012 - wayne
good plan.... im doing something along same way.... but im doing 1500 of the A.T  starting end of may..
Jun 13, 2012 - Sam
Way to try and get scouts to stop overpacking. My brother has often complained that when they go on single day trips, boys don't enjoy it because they're carrying fifty pound bags. Long live light weight!
Jul 12, 2012 - Karolina
Hola from Canada!! Here is to the love of hiking and dry socks! :)
Jul 13, 2012 - Hiking Dude
Karolina - I give +1 for dry socks!  I'm just heading out on an 8-mile walk right now and have new possom socks from New Zealand that I'm trying out.
Dec 24, 2012 - Paul Rockwood
I recently started planning a trip to hike the Camino de Santiago in Spain, Would you have any insight as to what kinds of foods are available on the trail for backpacking or what do you recommend I take with me?

I will be traveling in Mid april
Jan 02, 2013 - Andrew Bridenthal
Don't forget about the Long Trail in Vermont. The Northern section is some of the best hiking in the East.
Feb 26, 2014 - Richard Miller Mangarin
Does anyone have any useful tips re: the Camino De Santiago trek in Spain? [ref. Dec. 24, 2012 comment from Paul Rockwood] I'm planning on hiking the Camino in the near future.         Thanx,  Rich
Mar 05, 2014 - Hiking Dude
@Paul and @Richard - My wife and I considered hiking the Camino de Santiago but when I found out the vast numbers of hikers on it, I decided against it.  The numbers have been exploding the last few years and I don't know how the small towns handle them.
Anyway, food and water should be no problem since the route goes through villages every day.  I wouldn't think you need to take any food from home.
There are quite a few very useful Camino websites available.
francistapon.com/Travels/Spain-Trails/10-Reasons-Why-El-Camino-Santiago-Sucks *** a critical view of the trail
May 22, 2014 - Steven Raaen
The Camino de Santiago is quite crowded between June and September but fairly quiet in other months.  I did it last October and there seemed to be just the right amount of people for a social experience while providing long stretches of not seeing anyone else.  I map this map-blog if anyone wants to check it out.
Nov 23, 2014 - Todd Machler
LNT "Leave no trace". Yes, I am often saddened by seeing trash left on/off trails, and it seems even more prevalent recently. However, I have coined my own LNT to "leave a negative trace". I try to grab one piece of plastic (bottle) or other non degradable litter left by that other person/litterbug (along with all of my/our own). Just what I choose to do I guess...
Dec 21, 2014 - Gladys
I am planning to hike the Arizona trail, north bound, in April.  I have been looking at the water sources which are rated in the guide book from 1 to 4.  I am thinking that I cannot trust a 1 or 2 and I see it is often 30 or 40 miles between 3's and 4's.  Caching water is not an option.  Any suggestions?
Dec 21, 2014 - Hiking Dude
@Gladys - I only used 3s and 4s on my hike.  On those longer sections without water, I drank a lot when getting water which kept me going for the next few hours.  I also carried a lot of water just on those long sections.  I used very light collapsible platypus bags for extra water.  And, I was nearly out of water at the end of a couple sections.  

If you're doing less than 15 miles per day, then I don't know how you will be able to traverse some areas without caching water or arranging some support.  You might need to hike some extra long days to cut down on the amount of water needed by reducing the number of hours to cover the dry stretch.

Hike On
Dec 21, 2014 - Gladys
Hiking Dude,  Thanks for the quick response.  I was thinking pretty much the same thing.  Water up at every source and hike some extra miles.  I'm thinking one liter for every ten miles, one liter for every 1000 ft. of elevation and a half liter emergency on the long hikes.
Dec 29, 2014 - Justin
I'm a boyscout from maine and this may my troop is  going  to a camparee that West Point is putting on and we have to hike in and we stay for 3 nights. We have to bring our own gear. Should I need trekking poles? If so what do you recomend. Also what are some good snacks I can bring?
Dec 30, 2014 - Hiking Dude
@Justin - For such a short hike, poles seem unnecessary unless you are also using them as supports for your tarp shelter or other use.
See hiking food page for snack ideas.

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