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

My sister claiming her side of the car before heading off on a summer road trip.

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.

A rare photo of my sister and me actually smiling together on a family road trip.

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!

My mom, sister, and I on a cruise to Mexico!

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

June 2019

July 2019

Summer Nevada

 

Indiana

Illinois

Rhode Island

Las Vegas

 

Chicago

Boston

Valley of Fire

 

Indiana Sand Dunes

Midewin Prairie

Cliff Walk

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

Come Along

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,

~Chris

drive the usa map
If you were to drive to our hikes, this is the route

2 Comments

  1. MaryJo Cartoni

    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!

    Reply
    • EatWalkLearn

      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.

      Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 50 Hikes 50 States Project Hawaii - Eat Walk Learn - […] Six reschedules later and two Covid tests, we finally arrived on Oahu to hike our 49th state in our…
  2. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-Maryland - Eat Walk Learn - […] to go with the flow and enjoy the unexpected things that come your way. This was the case on…
  3. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-Montana - Eat Walk Learn - […] hiking in Rhode Island for our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, we headed home to […]
  4. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-Virginia - Eat Walk Learn - […] the time we got to Virginia on our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, we had been staying just a…
  5. 50 Hikes 50 States Project Project-New Mexico - Eat Walk Learn - […] win some. You lose some. After having a blast in Arizona on our last hike in our 50 Hikes…
  6. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-Alabama - Eat Walk Learn - […] into New Orleans, we headed to Alabama to hike our first state of three for the weekend on our…
  7. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-South Carolina - Eat Walk Learn - […] a lot of ugly, too. As part of our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, I’m consistently shocked at how…
  8. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-Wisconsin - Eat Walk Learn - […] couldn’t wait to get to Wisconsin on our 50 Hikes 50 States Project. One […]
  9. 50 Hike 50 States Project-Michigan - Eat Walk Learn - […] a gorgeous hike on the sea cliff in Wisconsin on our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, I couldn’t wait…
  10. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-Nebraska - Eat Walk Learn - […] And I couldn’t wait to hike a portion of the Oregon Trail in Nebraska on our 50 Hikes 50…
  11. 50 Hikes 50 States Project-South Dakota - Eat Walk Learn - […] heading out on our road trip to knock out Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota on our 50 Hikes…
  12. How to Talk with Your Partner about Going Nomadic - Eat Walk Learn - […] the meantime, while Steve works, I’ve taken on two projects. One is my 50 Hikes 50 States Project, which…
  13. 50 Hikes 50 States-North Dakota - Eat Walk Learn - […] we pointed the Tesla toward North Dakota on our 50 Hikes 50 States Project after a romping good time…
  14. 50 Hikes 50 States-Minnesota - Eat Walk Learn - […] As the Black Lives Matter Movement ignited across the country with protests everywhere, we headed to Minneapolis, the center…
  15. 50 Hikes 50 States-Tennessee - Eat Walk Learn - […] our hike in South Carolina on our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, we looked forward to a drive through…
  16. 50 Hikes 50 States-North Carolina - Eat Walk Learn - […] this segment of our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, we had landed in Spartanburg, SC, had hiked South Carolina…
  17. 50 Hikes 50 States Florida – Eat Walk Learn - […] when I perused Florida for my “Florida hike” in this 50 Hikes 50 States Project, I had to return…
  18. 50 Hikes 50 States–Georgia – Eat Walk Learn - […] what was happening as I was planning my 50 Hikes 50 States Project‘s trip to Florida. I was going…
  19. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–Arizona – Eat Walk Learn - […] you’ve been following along on my 50 Hikes 50 States Project, either my husband, my daughter or both generally…
  20. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–New Jersey – Eat Walk Learn - […] Bombshells that didn’t quite worked, but I loved. Our weekend of hiking thrice during our 50 Hikes 50 States…
  21. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–New York – Eat Walk Learn - […] our pleasant, Norman-Rockwellesque hike in Pennsylvania on our 50 Hikes 50 States Project we headed north past New York…
  22. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–Pennsylvania – Eat Walk Learn - […] our sights to the northeast, grabbing its southern edge to adventure on our next hiking trip in our 50…
  23. My First Long-Distance Road Trip in a Tesla Model 3 – Eat Walk Learn - […] had a trip already scheduled for our 50 Hikes 50 States Project to Montana and Wyoming where we had…
  24. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–Rhode Island – Eat Walk Learn - […] beautiful hamlet on the sound. The surprises continued when I stumbled upon our next hike for our 50 Hikes…
  25. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–Connecticut – Eat Walk Learn - […] the Appalachian Trail runs through the western side of the state, I thought it was time on our 50…
  26. 50 Hikes 50 States–Massachusetts – Eat Walk Learn - […] hiking up to the Falls in Massachusetts. We didn’t want to “cheat” though on our 50 Hikes 50 States…
  27. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–Illinois – Eat Walk Learn - […] myself at the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in late June ready to hike the second hike of my 50…
  28. 50 Hikes 50 States Project–Nevada – Eat Walk Learn - […] start our 50 Hikes 50 States Project, we wanted to go hiking to somewhere that was just as colorful…

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WELCOME

handsome hiking couple

Chris and Steve, the empty-nesting nomads, travel the world, one month at a time, housesitting and Airbnbing along the way. We uncover urban walks, great hikes, and vegan/vegetarian eats that other guide books miss. And we throw in a bit about Forex trading along the way.

More about Chris and Steve

Signup for our newsletter

Get the latest trip reports, and be the first to know about upcoming walking adventures!

Get your copy of Travel Magic Postcards!

Disclaimer

Sponsors In order to underwrite this blog, there may be sponsored posts, advertising, or affiliate marketing. See disclosures here.