BISMARCK — It is a terrific way to step into some of the most scenic places in all of North Dakota, enjoy some quality family time, and reap the health benefits of hiking in the outdoors. North Dakota State Parks has brought back it’s Hiking Challenge for 2022.
“We’re trying to get people to become more active outdoors, see the beauty of the State Park system, and get them to visit a State Park in their own backyard,” said Josh Steffan, ND State Parks.
Last year was the initial Hiking Challenge promoted by State Parks, and people loved it. Participation was very high, much greater than anticipated, with over 400 enthusiastic hikers completing the highest goal – 12 hikes in 12 months.
“It’s really pretty cool,” said Glee Mayer, Minot. “It was a lot of fun. There was some really cool medallions if you finished it. It’s really gotten people out to the state parks, for sure.”
There is no cost to participate in the Hiking Challenge, other than having an annual vehicle permit which is accepted at all State Parks. Hikers can do any number of hikes the choose. Leashed pets are allowed too. Prizes are awarded based on the number of qualifying hikes and the number of State Parks visited. Further information can be found on the ND State Parks website at www.parkrec.nd.gov.
“If a person completes all 12 hikes they get a completion medal – gold, silver, or bronze, depending on how many State Parks they visited,” said Steffan. “Every State Park is included this year. All hikers are registered into a drawing for an annual permit. It’s for everybody.”
A year ago hikers were asked to complete certain trails within a two-week period. That has changed this year from a 14-day window to an entire month. Mayer is one of the veteran hikers who welcomed the change.
“Last year that two-week time limit became problematic. Now you’ve got a whole month. Each park has designated trails to get credit,” said Mayer.
Each trailhead is marked with a sign or starting post. All a hiker has to do to is hold a cell phone up to a QR code to be automatically registered in the Hiking Challenge.”
“Last year I did it. It was just great to get to all the parks,” said Mark Zimmerman, Bismarck. “I got in 11 of the 12 hikes but hope to get all 12 this year. I think it’s a great program. It was great to see families on the trails enjoying it.”
While introducing people to State Parks, and what they have to offer, is part of the reasoning behind the Hiking Challenge, there’s another aspect too. That's stepping into scenic wonderment that many, even long-time North Dakota residents, didn’t know existed. Hikers will not only get some fresh air and pleasant exercise, but they’ll see sights they’ve never seen before and come away with a special appreciation for what North Dakota has to offer.
Below is a list of qualifying trails for this year’s State Parks Hiking Challenge.
Also, State Parks has created a checklist to help you keep track and learn more about each trail.
List of Bonus Trails