50 Hikes. 50 States.
A project to hike one hike in every state in the U.S.
Lucky. I live in a beautiful country filled with millions of miles of trails through thousands of beautiful places organized around 50 states. As a resident of the United States, I am more than lucky to have the freedom to move around this great country to explore its grandeur. And now, I’m off to see it again. But first, some back story. (Jump to the bottom of the post to see the driving map.)
50 States by 35
By 35, I had visited all 50 states. I grew up in a family with a father who insisted I see the US before I ventured into other countries. Our family vacations put my sister and me in the back of the car as my dad bulleted the car as fast as he could from point A to point B on our two-week long family vacations each summer.
We’d leave from San Diego and head north or east–the only two choices available to us–and journey for a week then turn around. The only things I really saw during the trip were my sister’s dirty looks. We would draw a line with shoe string in the back seat of the car.
Her side. My side.
Crossing the line with even a pinky resulted in fights and nastiness. The bickering bellowed from the back seat non-stop. One time my dad even threw us out of the car and made us walk. Along the highway. In the heat. We had to promise to “be good” before we could get back in the car.
Recently, I stumbled upon my old journals and found evidence of this crazy memory. It simply stated, “Dad was mad. He threw us out of the car and made us walk.”
The Beginning of a Travel Writing Career
But they were great times.
My journal of gas prices, national parks, swimming pools and meals launched my writing career. It’s fun to look back and see how mad mom and dad were or how much a Big Mac cost. The miles flew by on some days, dragged on during the others. If we fell asleep, dad would pull the car over and demand we wake up. After all, we were there to SEE the country, not sleep through it. He was a bit of a tyrant, but his heart was in the right place.
Through these family trips from San Diego to Vancouver, San Diego to Wyoming, and San Diego to West Virginia, we clicked off about 35 states. I picked the rest of them up through business travel or personal visits to friends.
To the World and Beyond!
From there, I jumped into the rest of the world and covered over 50 countries by the time I was 50. I’m currently at 62 countries. But after my jaunt through Latin America for 5 months, I discovered I missed my beautiful U.S.A. and decided that it’s time to revisit this amazing land, again. Thus, I launched my 50 Hikes 50 States Project.
50 Hikes 50 States Project
Here’s the goal: to hike one hike in each state over the next two years. How will we do it?
My wonderful husband has a companion pass on Southwest Airlines, so we’ll fly Southwest as often as we can. He’ll come with me on most trips. We’ll do 2-4 states every time we land, and we should be able to do one trip a month. The only state we won’t be able to do via Southwest is Alaska. We’ll fly someone else for that trip.
We’ll stay in a combination of AirBnBs or hotels we book, and we’ll rent cars or use public transit to get around.
Hiking and Traveling in the Time of COVID
We started the project in May 2019 and finished almost half of our hikes in 2019 an early 2020. Then COVID hit. Despite shutdowns and quarantines, we continued to do one trip a month. Most of the time during COVID, we drove, knocking out many of the western hikes in that time frame. When COVID wasn’t spiking, we flew. You’ll see we didn’t fly from November 2020 to January 2021. In March 2021, we got vaccinated. The entire COVID time, we masked, socially distanced, and carried food with us so we avoided restaurants for the most part.
Who Are We?
I am in my early fifties, fit, active, and I walk 16000 steps a day. He is in his late fifties, fit, active, and bikes regularly. We are not super athletes. We have knee problems, toe problems, and hearing problems. We like a good hike which is 4-6 miles long, has some elevation, allows for some gain (where we might use poles), and affords great views. We’re not scramblers, extremists, or record breakers. We just want to get out on the trail and enjoy some fresh air.
How Do I Pick Our Hikes?
I started this project by reading Outside magazine’s 50 trail recommendations. I then combined that with several similar lists, added in Southwest airport geography, and routed logistics so we could knock out 2-4 hikes each time we fly and not end up driving more than 3 hours to a trailhead. It hasn’t been easy, and it’s certainly not perfect.
Here’s Our Itinerary and Where Hiked
Below is our itinerary. It changed drastically from when we first started planning. In fact, although I had preselected 50 hikes, we only actually did 3 of the preselected hikes. Geography, flights, and logistics played more of a role in picking our hikes than listicles of great hikes. None the less, we did our best to stick to our criteria for hikes (see above) and our criteria for travel restrictions (see above, too.)
See the map here.
|Date||Season||State||Airport City||Name of Trail|
|Valley of Fire
Indiana Sand Dunes
|July 2019||Summer||Connecticut||Boston||AT Lions Head to Bear Mountain (Could’t find trail!)|
|July 218||Summer||Massachusetts||Boston||Bash Bish Falls|
|August 2019||Summer||Montana||Billings||Four Dances|
|August 2019||Summer||Wyoming||south pass city||South Pass City Loop|
|August 2020||Fall||Colorado||Denver||South Valley Trail|
|February 2020||Winter||Utah||Denver||Fisher Towers|
|September 2019||Fall||New Jersey||Philadelphia||great swamp national wildlife refuge orange trail|
|September 2019||Fall||Pennsylvania||Philadelphia||tyler state park|
|September 2019||Fall||New York||Philadelphia||Harriman State Park|
|November 2019||Fall||Ohio||Cincinnati||Mt Airy|
|November 2019||Fall||West Virginia||Cincinnati||Beech Fork State Park|
|April 2020||Fall||Texas||Atlanta State Park|
|February 2020||Fall||Utah||Denver||Fisher Towers|
|August 2020||Fall||Maryland||Washington DC||C&O Canal|
|August 2020||Fall||Virginia||Washington DC||Prince William Forest Park|
|December 2019||Winter||Mississippi||New Orleans||Sand Hill Crane NWR|
|December 2019||Winter||Louisiana||New Orleans||Barataria Preserve trails of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park|
|January 2020||Winter||Alabama||New Orleans||Dauphin Island|
|January 2020||Winter||Florida||Tampa||Cape Canaveral NS|
|February 2020||Winter||Texas||Little Rock||Atlanta State Park|
|February 2020||Winter||New Mexico||Santa Fe||Rio Grande Norte NM|
|April 2021||Spring||Hawaii||Honolulu||Hau’lua Loop Trail|
|April 2020||Spring||South Carolina||Atlanta||Yellow Branch Falls|
|February 2020||Spring||Georgia||Tampa||Okefenokee Swamp|
|November 2019||Fall||Kentucky||Lexington||Jefferson Memorial Forest|
|April 2020||Spring||Arkansas||Little Rock||Hot Springs NP|
|June 2020||Summer||North Dakota||Bismark, ND||Teddy Roosevelt NP|
|June 2020||Summer||South Dakota||Rapid City||Notch Trail|
|July 2020||Summer||Minnesota||Duluth, MN||Superior Hiking Trail|
|July 2020||Summer||Michigan||Grand Rapids||Presque Isle River Trailhead|
|July 2020||Summer||Wisconsin||Madison, WI||Apostle Islands National Lakeshore|
|February 2020||Winter||Arizona||Phoenix||Water Wheel Trail|
|August 2020||Summer||Delaware||DC||Cape Henlopen|
|September 2020||Summer||Vermont||Manchester, NH||Hurricane Forest|
|September 2020||Summer||New Hampshire||Portland, ME||Red Hill Fire Tower|
|September 2020||Summer||Maine||Portland, ME||Rachel Carson NWR|
|October 2020||Fall||Kansas||Denver||Tall Grass Prairie|
|October 2020||Fall||Nebraska||Denver||Scott’s Bluff|
|November 2020||Fall||Idaho||Boise||Military Reserve|
|September 2020||Fall||Iowa||Tulsa, OK||Sunset Ridge Trail|
|March 2021||Winter||California||San Diego||Torrey Pines|
|January 2021||Winter||Oregon||Portland, OR||Portland Urban|
|January 2021||Winter||Washington||Seattle||Lime Kiln Point|
|July 2020||Spring||North Carolina||Hendersonville||Cove Creek|
|July 2020||Spring||Tennessee||Knoxville||West Prong Trail|
|May 2021||Summer||Alaska||Seward||Harding Icefield Trail|
|September 2020||Fall||Oklahoma||Tulsa||Riverside Trail|
|November 2019||Fall||Missouri||St Louis||Lewis & Clark Tail|
I’ll be blogging about each hike here and posting in social media under my EatWalkLearn handles. You can also follow the hashtag #50hikes50states. First up, Nevada.
See you on the trail,
Thanks you for this! Great timing. We followed you in Denver and are looking forward to catching up with your new adventures. Your information is so comprehensive and hikes that we’ve taken around here were always enjoyable. Many excellent tips (i.e., Corkers in particular!) and interesting backstories. Much appreciated, all!
Thank you so much! I hope if you get a chance, you’ll read all of the 50 Hikes 50 States content and hike my Colorado pick, at least! Thanks for following along.