Last week the nonprofit Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy (SAHC) kicked off its 4th annual Winter Hiking Challenge. From January 1 to March 1 participants hike 60 miles within the two-month timeframe—60 miles in 60 days. The organization—a land trust and conservation organization based in Asheville, N.C.—encourages hikers to complete the challenge at their own pace at any location and time.
“Those can be miles you’ve walked, run, or hiked—in your neighborhood, around the block, up a rugged mountain trail, or through the forest,” according to the SAHC website. “Whatever works for your comfort and skill level.”
People who complete the challenge in time will earn a commemorative SAHC patch. To participate, hikers must sign up at the organization’s website before February 25 and pay a $25 registration fee that can be discounted if necessary. Once signed up, participants will receive an informational email with directions to logging miles, tips on hiking in winter, and suggestions for where to get outside—including lesser-known trails and places the organization has worked to protect.
“Time spent outdoors and in nature can help with both mental and physical health,” SAHC writes. “We hope this Challenge will make it interesting for folks to explore places you may not have hiked before, and/or to rediscover the joy of nature in your own backyard.”
According to SAHC, all money paid into the challenge directly supports conservation efforts in Southern Appalachia. To learn more about the Winter Hiking Challenge and SAHC’s conservation efforts, visit appalachian.org.
Need More Hiking Inspo? Virginia State Parks Announce Special Events for January
Virginia State Parks have outdoor events happening all month long, including star gazing, bird watching, and group hikes. Below are some organized hikes that can help boost your mileage. Visit dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks for more events.
- REI Appalachian Trail Overnight Backpacking
- Jan. 13-14, 2024
- Location: Sky Meadows State Park
- Three Rivers & Three Peoples Hike
- Jan. 15, 2024. 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
- Location: York River State Park
- Bird Hike with Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy
- Jan. 27, 2024. 8-11 a.m.
- Location: Sweet Run State Park
Cover photo: Man hiker standing on top of the mountain enjoying beautiful fall scenery near Asheville, North Carolina. Courtesy of Getty Images by Margaret W.