Five Trails That Will Challenge the Hiker In You

Marion Fernandez
Out on the trails

Hiking is one of the more satisfying exercises you can do. Not only can you find the silence and separation from the regular noise of the world, but you can experience things in nature that you may not have seen otherwise.

If you have been hiking for a while, you may be looking for a hike that brings on new challenges and experiences. Here is our list of trails that will bring on the challenge you are looking for.

Ruckel Ridge Loop, Columbia River Gorge, OR (9.6 miles)


Ruckle Ridge

While this is the shortest hike on our list, it should not be considered the easiest. This day hike throughout the gorge boasts a whopping 3,700 feet ascent over the course of 3.8 miles as you climb through dense fir trees and basalt pillars. You will then having to skirt across the narrow Catwalk, reaching the Benson Plateau. After you have enjoyed the views and clean air, you will enjoy a hike back down that shows off the splendor of the Columbia River Gorge.

Devil’s Path, Catskills, NY (23.6 miles)


Devil’s Path

The hike is named appropriately for its rocky ledges that will require you to sometimes scale up its 14,000 foot ascent. While this three-day hike is intense, you will be treated to views over four different states as well as landscape you will not find on any other Catskill trail. Water is scarce in the area, which means you will need to carry all of the water you will need in addition to the camping gear required to do this hike well.

Pemi Loop, White Mountains, NH (32 miles)


Pemi Loop

This Appalachian hike is often done within a day, with hikers starting at first light and descending in the dark. This difficult hike has eight 4,000 foot ascents throughout it as well as long stretches of rocky trail. But the amazing views above the tree line make this strenuous workout worth the effort. There is also a hut at the halfway point, allowing you to refill your water and grab a quick snack before heading off again.

Slickrock Creek Trail, Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, NC (13.5 miles)


Slickrock Creek Trail

This trail has an elevation climb of 5,360, making it one of the lowest on the list, but that does not mean this isn’t a strenuous hike. With 10 stream crossings keeping you on your toes, the ascent is slow going, exhausting you before you reach the peak of the trail. In turn, you will be immersed in some of the remaining old-growth trees of the East Coast as well as showing you the impressive Stratton Bald, which is the treeless, meadowed peaks of the Smoky Mountains. The rain forest atmosphere will make you feel like you were hiking through another country.

South Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon, AZ (17.6 miles)


The Majestic Grand Canyon vista

There are few views more impressive than the natural wonder of the Grand Canyon. This is really two trails that we list together based on the Park Service’s recommendation. Because the South Kaibab Trail is extremely steep, it is suggested that hikers use it to hike down, but take the Bright Angel Trail to get back out. Unlike the other hikes in this list, you will descend at the beginning of the hike and then you will have to come back up.


The Grand Canyon Park Service does not recommend that hikers attempt to descend and ascend the canyon in one day as the temperatures routinely soar over 100 degrees, making the risk of dehydration much higher. This hike will expose you to views of the canyon walls as well as of the Colorado River that you would not be able to see otherwise.

Experiencing the challenges of new hikes will help you reset your mind, take in nature stretch your legs, and prove to yourself that you can overcome any obstacle.


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