Top 10 Most Challenging Hikes in America

In today’s world of Instagram fame and drone photoshoots, epic pictures and videos show up every single day from the tops of ragged mountains nationwide luring us to accept the challenge and venture outside for a hike.  A truly epic hike is full of challenges and obstacles and a dedicated hiker must persevere to complete it.

So, you may ask, what are the most challenging, the most epic hikes in America today?

Here’s our top 10 list of most challenging hikes:


1. Record Breaking Hike.

Go to and search for a trail near you and find out what the fastest known time on that trail currently is, and go out and try to break it.  For example, the beautiful 115 mile Bartram Trail in North Carolina has been completed in 1 day, 7 hours, and 55 minutes.  Can you beat that?


2. Longest Loop Hike.

Take out a map of the largest park or public land near you, and map out the longest loop in the park and try to complete it in one shot.  For example, in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, I bet you could easily map out a loop that would be well over 100 miles long.


3. Connector Hike.

Find two parks that are not connected by any trail, and walk between them.  For example, Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (also know as just Big Sur) is nowhere near Kings Canyon National Park in California, so I bet it would be pretty challenging to walk on highways for nearly 200 miles to connect them.


4. Hurricane Hike.

The higher the category, the bigger the challenge.  Wait until there’s a massive hurricane about to hit your favorite park, and battle it out against nature to see who wins.  I’m sure you’ll have epic stories to share if you make it home.  If you’re not in the hurricane-prone Southeast, then another national-emergency type weather event will work as a substitute.  Tornadoes, 120 degree heat waves, or winter blizzards with massive amounts of snow are all acceptable.


5. Never Ending Shortest Loop Hike.

Find the shortest loop in your local park and do it over and over again until you physically cannot do it anymore.  The epitome of this sort of challenge is the Big Backyard Ultra in TN (see: where runners complete a 4 mile loop once an hour until there is only one runner left.  Last year the winner ran 283 miles.


6. 72 hour Challenge.

Just try hiking for 72 hours straight without sleep.  I bet that would be hard.


7. Starvation Hike.

Bring no food.  For this challenge to be really effective, it should probably be done on a long hike or better yet, a backpacking trip so you can really feel what it’s like to be starving.  Obviously there’s no challenge in going out on a 3 mile hike with no food.  Even better, combine this challenge with any of the above challenges for a really epic hike.


8. Mother Nature Calls.

Start your hike before going to the bathroom, and hold it until you’re done with the hike.  Best if you have to go #2 as well as #1.


9. Minimalist Hike.

Pick a hike, and do it with nothing.  I don’t mean without “gear”, I mean without anything.  Don’t bring shoes, don’t bring clothes, and certainly don’t bring your glasses.  If it’s not an epic hike for you, it probably will be for someone else.


10. Princess Hike.

Pick your least out-doorsy, most annoying friend or acquaintance and invite them on a grueling preferably multi-day hike and listen to them complain the whole time.  Make sure you don’t have anything with you to make the situation better, especially a first aid kit, extra layers, or alcohol.


Note: The author of this blog has not completed most (if any) of the above most challenging hikes.


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