Whether you’re a new or seasoned hiker, these outdoor events offer a chance to embrace the outdoors in a fun and social environment.
“Hiking… is walking.”
That’s a little dose of wisdom from the classic HBO series Sex and the City. Those of us who spend more time outside than Carrie Bradshaw understand that hiking can be much more than walking, but it’s a good reminder that outdoor activities don’t need to be daunting — especially in the company of friends.
Nowadays, many outdoor activities have gone from simple recreation to intensely competitive pursuits, but that’s not how it always was. Gaining popularity in the U.S. during the 1800s, hiking was the result of the conservation movement in North America. Authors like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson waxed poetic about walking amongst nature. Long before “forest bathing” was a thing, people were discovering the joy of taking their time in nature and appreciating the details in the world around them — hiking was a way to do that.
In 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) was created as the first recreation organization in America. Originally, the group was founded to protect trails in the northeastern region of the the U.S. Now AMC has expanded to include organized adventures and volunteer led trips in order to help more people get outside.
It’s groups like AMC that have encouraged people to come together and partake in our great outdoors. Group hikes and events like the ones AMC organizes make it easier to get outside and try something new. If your friends would rather spend the day with air conditioning, you can still get out and meet some really cool people on the trail.
The AMC is the oldest recreation organization, but it’s not the only one. Many groups exist that encourage people to take on the wilderness one adventure at a time. You can partake in these group hikes and outdoor events on your own or with a group. Either way, you’re bound to meet new people and have a good time along the way.
Hiking + Outdoor Events You Should Check Out with Friends
Try something new and meet new people at these outdoor events:
The Classic — Colorado
The Fjallraven U.S. Classic was launched in 2016 and inspired by the original trek in Sweden. The Classic is a celebration of hiking and camping in the outdoors. It takes place in the rugged Colorado mountains where you can experience vast views with other outdoor adventurers. The hike consists of 30+ miles over the course of a three-day epic adventure. And Fjallraven isn’t the only organization to spearhead this event. Camp stove creators at Primus also participate by supplying stove fuel and hosting s’mores for all the trekkers. The Classic is a great way to backpack, win Fjallraven gear, and meet new hikers in Colorado.Learn More
One Day Hike — Washington D.C. to West Virginia
For the last 44 years, the Sierra Club has sponsored the One Day Hike which is comprised of two concurrent, non-competitive hikes of 50K and 100K. Both hikes take you along the towpath of the C&O Canal, which runs along the Potomac River near Washington, D.C. No matter which distance you hike, this trek crosses into Harpers Ferry, where Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia meet. Though it’s not a race, hikers have until midnight to complete their respective hike. This is one of the oldest long-distance hikes in the Mid-Atlantic, so it’s great for history buffs who moonlight as hikers.Learn More
Outessa’s Outdoor Retreat — Various Locations
This one’s for the ladies! Outessa is a collection of retreats and events that are sponsored by REI. Outessa Retreats were created for women by women, and these retreats encourage learning new outdoor skills and fostering new friendships with like-minded women. Hiking isn’t the only thing on retreat itineraries. Participants can also try mountain biking, rock climbing, and attend clinics in wilderness first aid and orienteering. These retreats are offered in various locations, and give their participants the opportunity to truly be inspired by nature, themselves, and the women around them.
Their next retreat is in Lake Tahoe, August 2-5.Learn More
Hike-Fest — Minnesota
Right in the heart of the midwest, Hike-Fest is a localized celebration of hiking in Minnesota. Hike-Fest is organized by the Superior Hiking Trail Association, a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation and management of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT), which is 310+ miles long. Through Hike-Fest, attendees participate in day hikes on the SHT, ropes course fun, workshops, and evening programs. All of these events are hosted with fellow hikers, so you can meet others who yearn to hit the trail.Learn More
PCT Days — Oregon
One of the most famous big trails in the contiguous U.S. is the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Clocking in at a quad-busting 2,650 miles, this hike takes dedication and time. But what if you don’t want to dedicate six months to hiking from the Mexican border to Canada? You might want to opt for Pacific Crest Trail Days. PCT Days is a 3-day festival located in Cascade Locks, Oregon. The festival celebrates and encourages outdoor recreation specifically hiking, backpacking, and camping. Outdoor enthusiasts can look forward to a variety of activities, clinics, presentations, and a film series. The event doesn’t organize any group hikes, but there will be no shortage of weekend warriors to meet and befriend.Learn More
52 Hike Challenge — Anywhere
Planning a trip around one of these outdoor events might not feasible, but that doesn’t mean you can’t participate in a communal hiking experience. The 52 Hike Challenge is a movement, and you don’t have to be in any one place to get in on the fun. Participants pledge to hike once a week for 52 weeks in order to gain the physical and mental benefits of hiking in nature. Trekkers can sign up to track their progress, and have access to starter packages in order to help them achieve their goals. The 52 Hike Challenge offers an opportunity to get started with a hiking goal, or to change the way you hike and interact with our trails.Learn More