We’re a few days into 2018 and already working out our vacation and hiking trips for the year. While it’s too cold to be on the trails this week, we’ve spent our time setting camping and hiking goals for 2018. By sketching out our plans early we make sure we have enough outdoor time blocked off before weddings, reunions, and work commitments fill up the calendar. It’s our chance to commit that this year will be our best year on the trail yet.
Our 18 Hiking Goals for 2018
Goal 1: Hike at least 100 miles.
100 trail miles in a year has been our benchmark for the past 3 hiking seasons. It may sound like a lofty goal, but with an 8.5 mile hike each month (or two smaller 4 milers) we are usually able to come close or just over 100 miles. In 2018 we’re also adding a 250 mile goal on our tandem bike.
Goal 2: Plan a winter hike.
Strap on your snowshoes and throw on an extra set of wool socks, it’s time to brave the woods when most people are still at home. Winter hiking and spending time in the snowy elements not only keeps us moving in the off-season, it also can offer the year’s quietest trails. We love to hike some of our favorite summertime trails when they are less busy and covered in a blanket of white.
Goal 3: Hike around a new NPS site.
This is a no-brainer goal for a Park Chaser – New year. New parks. This year our 2018 goals include hikes in Grand Canyon, Zion, and Joshua Tree National Parks.
Goal 4: Increase our highest altitude by 1,000 feet or more.
This goal is all about pushing ourselves to new heights, literally. Every year we calculate the toughest climb we did in the previous year and then try to add at least 1000 feet of elevation to that hike. In 2017 we climbed Mt. Katahdin near Acadia National Park. We’ll be looking to top that sometime this year.
Goal 5: Hike with someone new to the trail.
Some of the best times on the trail are spent with fellow hikers. Sharing our love of the trails with that not-so-outdoorsy friend or getting outdoors with our co-workers is a fun goal to check off the list.
Goal 6: Hike on a National Scenic or Historic Trail.
So many stories have shown up in recent years of people setting aside their crazy corporate lives for a multi-month journey on one of our country’s epic hiking trails. While we won’t trade in our careers for a 2-man tent this year, we are planning to spend some time on these gorgeous scenic and historic trails.
Goal 7: Attend a ranger-led hike.
Experienced hikers may hear ranger-led hike and think “Slow. Boring. Lots of stopping and starting. Not my thing.” In recent years however, the park service has tried hard to provide a better variety of ranger-led activities, including challenging hikes to remote areas of the parks. Ranger-led hikes are also a chance to spend time with someone who intimately knows the park and can help you connect with the history, geology, and wildlife of a park in new ways.
Goal 8: Hike a shoreline.
Shoreline hikes often get overlooked because they may be lower altitudes and shorter distances. But one of our favorite hikes in 2017 was the Ocean Path in Acadia National Park. There’s something to be said for logging miles while gazing out over the ocean or setting up camp in a spot where quiet waves roll in all night long.
Goal 9: Hike with kids.
Kids on the trail can change everything about a hike. It’s a chance to slow down, take time investigating the details, and seeing things from a new perspective. While we don’t have kids of our own, we do have a great time hiking with our nephews and the kids of our close friends.
Goal 10: Picnic at a lake.
Make this your plan for a relaxing Saturday this year: Pack up sandwiches, snacks, and a few cold beverages. Set out early and get the best parking spot at the trailhead. Hike and hike and hike until you reach that magic spot where the trail widens out and you reach a quiet mountain lake. Open up your pack and find a comfy rock or log to enjoy your lunch on the banks of your own private hidden lake.
Goal 11: Try an urban trail.
Nothing is going to keep us off the trail in 2018. Even if we don’t have time for a mountain vacation, we’ll be hitting some of our local urban trails. Cities all over the United States are working hard to create wild spaces within and near urban areas and the National Park Service website can help with finding trails wherever you are.
Goal 12: Leave our gear at home and hike with only water and a camera.
This is tougher than it sounds. No cell phone. No backpack full of snacks, gadgets, and three layers of our latest and greatest gear purchases. So much of the time we get caught up in the “stuff” of hiking, and forget what’s important is to spend time on the trail. At least once this year, we’re planning to save time on packing and just go.
Goal 13: Hike in the footsteps of the famous.
Spending a day walking with John Muir. Overlooking the spot where Lewis and Clark first saw the Rockies rise up on the horizon. Crossing the sites where Civil War soldiers marched toward battle. Some of our favorite hikes follow the path of other famous hikers. We’re looking to add more of these trails in 2018.
Goal 14: Plan a hike underground.
Hundreds of miles of trails in the National Park System exist below ground. In some parks like Wind Cave National Park, rangers and teams of volunteers are still mapping passages and exploring new caves. We’re hoping to spend at least one afternoon with our boots on a whole new landscape in 2018.
Goal 15: Hike with a stranger.
Some of our best hiking stories come from times when we’ve joined up with others on the trail and hiked with total strangers. The past few years we’ve had our own trips planned, but are looking forward to checking out our local REI and hiking meet-ups.
Goal 16: Hike sunrise to sunset.
Last year we came close to this goal but never made it to sunset. We’re going to do our best in 2018 to find a quiet place on the trail to watch the sun come up and end the day with headlamps on. It’s a chance to re-set the internal clock and know you’ve wisely used every minute of the day.
Goal 17: Hike the same trail once in each season.
Watch the first green shoots pop in the spring. Feel the shady coolness on a hot summer day. Hear the leaves crunch underfoot on a crisp fall morning. Smell a fresh blanket of snow in mid-winter. Hiking the same trail each season is a treat for the senses.
Goal 18: Hike solo.
Many of us treat hiking as just as much about getting outdoors as it is spending time with family and friends. Each of us has solo day hikes in mind to experience the woods and the trail all on our own.