Bring Them On!
If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a sucker for hiking challenges. Peak-bagging and high-pointing and red-lining get me more excited than you’d ever believe. There are a slew of such challenges all over New England, New York – as well as all over the country and world. I’m very keen on completing those in our surrounding states, which I’ll link to below as well.
But there are several in our little state, although many seem to be fleeting or even possibly just hypothetical. As ever, if you are reading this and are familiar with any I don’t have listed here, please let me know. I thought this page would be a good idea to create since everything below is in different places all over my site.
The Established Challenges:
Connecticut State Parks “The Sky’s the Limit” Annual Hiking Challenges (2015- )
The state’s DEEP expanded the excellent “No Child Left Inside” slate of activities to include year-long “hiking challenges.” You must go to their designated places and take “selfies” of yourself at a specified point within a state park or forest. It really is a great thing the state does.
What you get: You get a certificate and a medallion and are in the running for other things.
CFPA Blue Trails Challenge
– So exciting! The CFPA phased out the 3 patched trails (below), but have revamped the whole thing to include the entire trail system.
Hike any of the trails in the trail system and accumulate miles and memories as you go. With three challenge categories (200, 400, or 800 miles) you can stitch together a hiking challenge on the trails that is right for you. There’s no time limit, you can complete a challenge category in a single season or across your hiking lifetime.
The CFPA trail system seems to grow every year and is well over 800 miles now. My only problem is going back through my decade of hiking and adding up my mileage. (But you know I love doing that stuff.)
What you get:
200-miler: CFPA t-shirt
400-miler: CFPA water bottle
800-miler: CFPA fleece vest
The Connecticut 400 Club (Retired)
I suppose this one is officially retired in deference for the Blue Trails Challenge, but I’d like to hang on to it if you don’t mind… this is our oldest (as well as our most misnamed) challenge. The CT400 Challenge was created in the 1970’s when the CFPA trails totaled 400 miles. Since then, the mileage has more than doubled, but the name of the “club” remains. This one is a bit hard to pin down, but basically you are tasked with hiking ever inch of every trail in the CFPA Walk Books. Of course, those trails change frequently and new trails have been added since the last edition. To my mind, I’ll be a Club Member when I finish every inch of every trail that exists at such time. But you probably don’t have to be such a completist. You should certainly become a CFPA member if you aren’t, and keep up with their doings on their website.
Oh – and if you complete this challenge, you’ll complete the next five below by default – and the 3 levels of the Blue Trails Challenge as well.
Three CFPA Patched Trails (Retired)
There were a few other hike rewards within the Connecticut 400. However, as I mentioned above, they were sadly phased out in late 2014. They were:
The Mattabesset Trail, 57.2 Miles, part of the New England National Scenic Trail. This centrally located horseshoe-shaped trail connects is the central section of Connecticut’s section of the NET.
The Metacomet Trail, 59.6 Miles, part of the New England National Scenic Trail. From the Berlin Turnpike north to the Massachusetts line in Suffield, this is Connecticut’s northernmost sector of the NET.
The Quinnipiac Trail, 18.3 Miles I believe this is deemed the CFPA’s oldest trail, hence its importance despite its short length.
What you get: Nothing anymore, other than extreme satisfaction and a good chunk of your first level (200-miler) CFPA Blue Trails Challenge level. Back in the day, you’d get trail completion patches.
Appalachian Trail: Connecticut Section, 55.3 Miles – Who doesn’t know what the AT is? I hiked this section in 1997, but that was way before CTMQ, so I’m doing it again.
What you get: The ATC gives (gave?) state completion rocker patches.
Giant Master, Sleeping Giant State Park trails, Hamden, 30+ Miles This State Park trail network is maintained by the Sleeping Giant Park Association. Completing this one requires a LOT of double-backs and planning, especially for the solo hiker.
I highly recommend this one, as it gets you to places in the very well-known park most visitors don’t know about. Everyone’s been to the tower, but not everyone has seen the Giant’s knees.
Information – You must be a Sleeping Giant Park Association dues paying member while completing
What you get: A handsome certificate of completion and patch
The Other Challenges:
The rest of these hiking challenges are not part of the CT400 Club program… but that doesn’t mean they are any less excellent.
Burlington Trail Master, Burlington, 39.3 Miles The majority of this challenge will be complete if you are a Tunxis Trail and or CT400 completer, but not quite all of it.
Updated Information – You must be a Burlington Land Trust dues paying member while completing
What you get: The whole challenge has changed since I did it. Your mileage may vary.
Steep Rock Hiker’s Challenge, Washington, ~40 Miles – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the three Steep Rock Association Preserves offer some of the best hiking in the state. Period.
Information You must be a Steep Rock Land Trust dues paying member while completing
What you get: A hat, a lapel pin, and a Certificate
Ives Trail (Bethel, Danbury, Ridgefield), 20 Miles – I think this trail is completely cleared and blazed now. I love a patched hike that I can do in a day.
What you get: Completion patch
My made up Challenge:
Connecticut 17’ers – the ten highest peaks in Connecticut, most of which are not trailed, and some of which are private property. I don’t recommend you try to complete this list. Let me be the lone idiot to do so.
(Since I published the 10 highest peaks list, several intrepid explorers have contacted me with tips and tricks to summit them. So I guess I’m not alone.)
Other Northeast Peak-Bagging Challenges, etc:
There are a million of these. I wish I could do these for my job, but I can’t. Here’s the list of all the challenges I care to list.
The Branford Trail – I used to have this listed as a patched trail, but I don’t think it is anymore.
Madison Land Conservation Trust Challenge – This thing was changing so much every year that it became annoying. Great trail system though!
If you’ve read all the way down to here and know of other CT trail challenges with rewards, please let me know!