by Kate Lemon, Marketing + Communications Coordinator, North Country Trail Association
Since 2016, thousands of North Country Trail (NCT) users have signed up for and completed the annual Hike 100 Challenge, one free program offered by the North Country Trail Association (NCTA). Each year this challenge renews but the rules remain the same: Hike any 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail between January 1 and December 31. Trail users can explore 100 unique miles or revisit the same mile 100 times; log mileage over weeks or months, or during one big adventure; walk, snowshoe, run, ski, day hike, or backpack. Once they’ve completed their 100 miles on the NCT, participants submit a completion form to receive a commemorative patch and certificate of completion. A new patch design is released each year.
In 2020, partially thanks to the NCTA’s rule change of #HikeFromHome that temporarily allowed non-NCT miles to count toward the Challenge, over 4,200 participated in Hike 100 and over 2,500 completed it.
The Trail provided reprieve. While the national battle against coronavirus doubles down, with travel restrictions lifted and many employees slowly returning to offices, the Hike 100 Challenge hasn’t lost popularity. As of the end of February 2021, nearly 4,000 were signed up and over 30 had already completed the challenge. The North Country Trail was discovered or rediscovered by many, and it continues to hold value.
To add appeal to the program, the NCTA selects random participants each month to receive free gear and one finisher annually to receive a grand prize package. Jennifer Bieniek was the 2020 finisher chosen as the grand prize winner.
“I recently began hiking in 2019 as a way to do some low-impact exercise after surgery. I fell in love with it quickly!” explained Jennifer. “I realized that I had missed out on this wonderful way to find peace! My kids joined me soon. I have three kids (two teenagers and a four-year-old). I live within 15 minutes of the North Country Trail and am still astonished that most people from my area that I speak to about it have never heard of it. I plan to continue our adventures!”
Learn more at northcountrytrail.org/hike-100-challenge. Share your adventures on social media using @northcountrytrail and #hike100nct.