Many people think that sports have to be competitive, full of intensity and drama. While those kinds of sports can be extremely entertaining, sometimes sports provide a way to explore and take in great scenery.
Hiking as a sport: Hiking can be an exhilarating or relaxing sport, depending on what you make of it. On a steep, demanding trail, it can be a great workout for your heart, lungs and legs. Or hiking can just be a way to enjoy the outdoors and get some fresh air.
The Triple Crown of Hiking: Every sport has its pinnacle. Whether it's winning the Super Bowl or the World Series, athletes set goals and work hard to achieve them. In hiking, the most difficult goal is the Triple Crown of Hiking. This involves hiking the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. All together, the Triple Crown trails are 7,400-miles long and pass through 22 states. Very few people have ever been able to complete the Triple Crown in one year. In fact, only a handful of people have ever completed it in their lifetimes!
Appalachian Trail: This is a 2,175-mile trail that stretches from Georgia all the way up to Maine, passing through 14 states along the way. Most of the trail is wilderness, but it does cut through some rivers, towns and roads.
Pacific Crest Trail: At 2,650 miles, it can take up to six months to hike this entire trail. It starts at the U.S./Mexico border in California and runs all the way up the West Coast to the U.S./Canada border. It passes through forests and mountains and around many national landmarks.
Continental Divide Trail: This 3,100-mile long trail can also take about six months to complete. It starts in New Mexico, at the U.S/Mexico border, and runs up the Rocky Mountains into Montana's border with Canada. Only about two dozen people each year are able to complete this trail.
Easy Trails: Of course, not all trails are as challenging as the ones mentioned above. Throughout the country, there are easier trails that people can hike in one day or in an afternoon. You don't even need to live near the mountains in order to take a hike. Lots of trails wind through forests, desserts, beaches and even cities! All you need is a good pair of shoes and the desire to explore.
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