More than 550 hikers from 21 states have registered for the Dirty Dozen Wilderness Hike Challenge, co-sponsored by Blue Ridge Outdoors and The Wilderness Society.

The Dirty Dozen challenges participants are to hike 10+ miles in 12 designated wilderness areas (for a total of 120+ miles) across the South. It’s not too late to get dirty. The challenge runs through September 30, 2015.

The challenge was launched to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Wilderness Act and to encourage more outdoor enthusiasts to explore Southern Appalachia’s wilderness.

Challenge participants have submitted reports from hikes in dozens of designated wilderness areas across nine Southern states. Here are a few of our favorites so far.

“In every backpacking trip, there is always a moment I look for when I feel fully in the present, alive in all senses of the word, and at ease with the reasons I was once again out in the wild. On Raven Cliffs, I had my moment, and it was fantastic.”

—Timo Holmquist, Raven Cliffs Wilderness, Ga.

“Beauty doesn’t always have to be grandiose. It can also be modest and quaint. Wilderness is not only for the super-fit, the gear junkie, or the fearless explorer. It is there waiting for all of us.”

—Olga Pader, Brasstown Wilderness, Ga.