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.

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 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 look. 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 off 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 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 57 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 launch 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 through Travelocity, and we’ll rent cars or use public transit to get around.

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 polls), 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 magazines 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 Rough Itinerary and Where We’ll Hike

Below is our rough itinerary. I’ve researched hikes near our airport geography, but I’m quickly learning that logistics can get in the way. We’ve had to change our plans many times already. Thank heavens for Google and a Pixel 3!

Date Season State Airport City Name of Trail
 

June 2019

July 2019

Summer Nevada

Indiana

Illinois

New York did Rhode Island instead

Las Vegas

Chicago

Boston

Valley of Fire

Indiana Sand Dunes

Midewin Prairie

Hurricane Mountain (did Cliff Walk instead in RI)

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 Mystic Lake Trail
August 2019 Summer Wyoming south pass city Yellowstone Grand Prismatic Overlook
November 2019 Fall Colorado Denver tbd
September 2019 (reschedule) Fall Utah Denver Wire Pass Buckskin Gulch
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
September 2019 Fall Ohio Cleveland Ledges Overlook
September 2019 Fall West Virginia tbd tbd
October 2019 Fall Texas El Paso Big Bend
October 2019 Fall Utah tbd tbd
November 2019 Fall Maryland Washington DC Billy Goat Trail
November 2019 Fall Virginia Washington DC Lewis Spring Falls
December 2019 Winter Mississippi Jackson, MS Natchez Trace
December 2019 Winter Louisiana New Orleans Barataria Preserve trails of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park
January 2020 Winter Alabama Birmingham, AL Trail 200
January 2020 Winter Florida Tallahassee Little George Island
February 2020 Winter Texas El Paso McKittrick Trail
February 2020 Winter New Mexico Santa Fe Aspen Vista Trail
March 2020 Winter Nevada Reno Lower Thomas Creek Trail
March 2020 Spring Hawaii Honolulu Kalala Trail
April 2020 Spring South Carolina Atlanta Foothills Trail
April 2020 Spring Georgia Atlanta Blood Mountain
May 2020 Spring Kentucky Lexington Berea Pinnacles
May 2020 Spring Arkansas litte rock Whitaker Point
June 2020 Summer North Dakota Bismark, ND Painted Canyon Trail
June 2020 Summer South Dakota Rapid City Black Elk Peak
July 2020 Summer Minnesota Duluth, MN Superior Hiking Trail
July 2020 Summer Michigan Grand Rapids Pyramid Point
July 2020 Summer Wisconsin Madison, WI Devils Lake Loop
tbd Winter Arizona tbd Vermilion NM
August 2020 Summer Delaware Wilmington, DE Brandywine Creek State Park
September 2020 Summer Vermont Manchester, NH Mount Peg Summit Hike
September 2020 Summer New Hampshire Portland, ME Franconia Ridge Trail
September 2020 Summer Maine Potland, ME Cadillac Mountain
October 2020 Fall Kansas Denver Castle Rock
October 2020 Fall Nebraska Denver Saddle Rock Trail
November 2020 Fall Idaho Boise Hell’s Canyon
December 2020 Fall Iowa Dubuque, IA Effigy Mounds
December 2020 Winter California San Diego John Muir Trail (portion)
January 2021 Winter Oregon Portland, OR Trail of Ten Falls
January 2021 Winter Washington Vancouver BC Yellow Aster Butte
April 2021 Spring West Virginia Charleston, WV Huckleberry Trail
April 2021 Spring North Carolina Hendersonville Art Loeb Trail
May 2021 Spring Tennessee Knoxville Place of a Thousand Drips
July 2021 Summer Alaska Seward Harding Icefield Trail
TBD Fall Oklahoma Oklahoma City Antelope and Buffalo Springs Trail
TBD Fall Missouri St Louis Partney Ridge

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