7 Things to Do While Hiking 100 Miles

By: North Country Trail Association

“I only went for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, was really going in.” – John Muir

As the National Park Service celebrates its centennial anniversary this year it is engaging everyone with the Find Your Park movement to inspire all people to connect with, enjoy, and support our national treasures.

Hike100family_web The North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) is celebrating the centennial by hosting the Hike 100 Challenge. Hiking 100 miles may seem daunting to many people but it’s actually quite simple. Anyone who hikes 100 miles on the North Country Trail during the calendar year of 2016, in aggregate or all at once, will be eligible for the special 100 Miler patch and certificate.

While the Hike 100 Challenge is open to anyone and everyone, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will be awarded an exclusive Scout Ranger patch from the National Park Service just for participation. The effort is in hopes of bringing more awareness of the trail to Scouts, to show there are opportunities to work with the National Park Service along the NCNST, as well as to enjoy the vast beauty of this exquisite national treasure.  Scouts can participate individually, with their families, or with their troops, and coordinate with their own efforts to earn badges, or just for fun.

Now, about those 7 things to do while hiking 100 miles…

  1. Shinrin-yoku (The Japanese activity of “Forest Bathing”) Recent scientific studies have backed up the benefits that Shinrin-yoku claims to provide. Test subjects experienced reductions in stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. Trees naturally release antimicrobial volatile substances called phytoncides that we breathe in on a daily basis. Spend a few minutes closing your eyes and taking in the smells, sounds, and feelings.  Scottish-American naturalist John Muir was well aware of these health benefits and wrote about his experiences. It was his activism that helped to preserve some of the areas that became our first national parks.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks,” – John Muir.

  1. Field Guides Field guide books are pocket-sized and are meant to be taken on hikes. Spend time sharing your favorite flowers, insects, rocks and minerals, trees, plants, and animals. Point out plants and animals that are not to be touched, endangered, or invasive.
  1. Scavenger Hunt Make a checklist of plants, animals, landscapes, vistas, and geological features for a scavenger hunt. This game is not only fun for kids but for adults as well. You can be as specific or as general with items on your list as you want. Use your cell phone camera to capture images for proof as well as creating memories.
  1. I Spy Game “I spy with my little eye something that is covered in spikes.” Is it a pine cone? Is it a porcupine? Is it a seed pod? This game is a classic and keeps the mind sharp. The person who guesses correctly gets to choose the next object.
  1. Habitat Study Plot Find a place on your hike that you can make plans to visit and study throughout the year. A 3’ x 3’ area can have a lot of activity going on. This is another opportunity to use your cell phone to capture images. Create a diary of the changes you notice each time you visit. Are there animals that inhabit the plot? What kinds of plants do you see? Are there fungi? What sounds do you hear? Is it exposed to the shade for part of the day or the whole day?
  1. Pick up Trash Bring a small garbage bag and pick up small garbage items that don’t belong. Be sure to leave the trash in a designated receptacle or take it home to be thrown away. Be careful with sharp objects and unknown substances.
  1. Imitate Animal Sounds That You Hear This one can get interesting! Your friends may surprise you with their animal mimicking skills! Kids love imitating animals and you will have a good laugh at failed attempts.


Whether you are backpacking, going for a short day hike, a group hike, or taking senior citizens out for fresh air, these 7 activities fit in easily during your Hike 100 Challenge. And don’t forget to “leave no trace” – Happy hiking!

For more information and to sign up for the Hike 100 Challenge visit: https://northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/special-events/hike-100-challenge/