Hiking is one of my favorite things in the world! Not only are you getting fit and exercising, you’re also outdoors, in nature, and getting to experience the best thing ever – the environment. I’ve been able to see waterfalls, lakes, wildlife, and gorgeous views that I would never have been able to without hiking. There are just some things you can’t drive to, and trust me, it’s better that way.
If you’re a hiker in Los Angeles, you’re most probably familiar with the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge. This is a challenge to hike the highest six peaks in Southern California:
Elevation: 5,710 ft
Vertical Gain: 4,200
Distance: 14 miles
Elevation: 8,859 ft
Vertical Gain: 4,300
Distance: 12 miles
Elevation: 10,068 ft
Vertical Gain: 3,900
Distance: 10 miles
San Bernardino Peak
Elevation: 10,649 ft
Vertical Gain: 4,702 ft
Distance: 17 miles
Mt. San Jacinto
Elevation: 10, 834 ft
Vertical Gain: 4,689 ft
Distance: 12 miles
San Gorgonio Peak
Elevation: 11, 503 ft
Vertical Gain: 5,840
Distance: 18 miles
Jeff Hester of SoCalHiker created the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge and thousands of hikers complete it every year. By registering for the challenge, you can get access to a challenger-only hike log, a personalized profile to track your progress, earn virtual badges, connect with other challengers through a forum and at the finisher’s party at the end of the year.
Still not convinced? Here are 6 more reasons to do the Six Packs of Peaks Challenge:
1. It is really quite the challenge!
These are definitely not easy hikes and I don’t recommend trying them if you’re a beginner hiker. I would only start doing the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge once you’ve done hikes over 10 miles long and have done some altitude training. Some hikes that would be good to train up for the Six Pack of Packs include Inspiration Point and Mount Baden-Powell.
2. It’s a good way to motivate yourself.
Things are easier when you have a goal in mind, and here’s your checklist! By committing to complete the Six Pack of Peaks challenge, you know your end goal. If you’ve been hiking for a while and are ready to take on the challenge, I suggest planning out the hikes in your calendar (in order since they’re pretty much in order of difficulty, though some have varying opinions). That way, you can also move things around if the weather doesn’t cooperate or when things come up.
3. It’s great training for longer hikes and bigger peaks.
If you’re looking to hike Mt. Whitney, the John Muir Trail (Jeff Hester actually created this challenge while he was training for this), and other longer and bigger hikes, this is a great training for you! This will help you gain endurance and strenth and also train you for higher elevations.
4. It’s a great way to meet new people.
Hiking is a really great way to meet other people whether you join a group or just meet people on the trails. I’ve hiked with lots of groups in LA (that’s actually how I met my husband), and here are some that I recommend:
- Girls Who Hike LA – This is an all-girls group with lots of events during the week. There’s a good range of all-level hikers so it’s great if you’re just starting out. There are also more intermediate and advanced hikers who do the Six Pack of Peaks as well as other more challenging hikes. Read my feature on founder, Sharron McBride, here!
- 3H Hiking Group – This is a co-ed group that likes to do the Six Pack of Peaks every year as well as other hikes that are 10+ miles in length. The founders of this group, Ricardo and Maglory, are such sweethearts and everyone is very kind and welcoming
- LA Trail Hikers – I know a lot of people that hike with this group and they do many hikes throughout the week which serve as great training hikes for bigger hikes on the weekend.
If you sign up for the Six Pack of Peak Challenge, you’ll also get to connect with other challengers in the forum and plan hikes together.
5. It’ll feel really good!
Yes, you may have to get up at wee hours of the morning on a Saturday. Yes, you might have to not go out on Friday nights, but I promise you that when you get up to that summit and finish the hike, you’ll feel absolutely amazing.
My husband and I do ask ourselves all the time why we get up at 3:45 am by choice on the weekends instead of sleeping in. But when we’re having fun in the woods and hiking with each other and our friends, we get the answer to that question.
6. You’ll learn a lot about yourself.
This is more about hiking in general, where you’ll really get to know yourself. If you’ve read or watched the movie, Wild, and know about others’ stories on people have overcome something or healed through hiking, then you’ll know it’s not a myth.
Through hiking, I really learned a lot about myself. I would catch myself thinking about giving up and then willing myself to push forward. This applies to many other parts of my life where it would be easier to stop, it would be a lot simpler to not push myself and stay in my comfort zone. But what great things ever came out of staying in your comfort zone? Nothing.
So as you read this, I hope I inspire you to complete the Six Pack of Peaks Challenge this year. Whether you register for the challenge or do it on your own, know that you’ll come out of it a stronger, better person.
Watch our interview with Jeff Hester here!