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Beer Hiking Is a Thing, and It’s Awesome. Here's Where to Do It.

Insider Guides Hiking
by Melody Moulton Oct 9, 2018

Few things are as satisfying after a long day on the trail than relaxing over an ice-cold beer. In the United States and beyond, avid hikers have mapped out the best routes for imbibing during and after some of the world’s most renowned hikes, making it possible to both have your hike and drink beer too. These breweries and pubs — some trailside and others within a short distance of your route — will send you down the line to the next stop feeling satiated or provide a cozy, overnight respite from your journey. Here are the five coolest beer hiking trails to set out on.

1. Five-Seidla-Trail, Germany

Pottenstein village in Franconian Switzerland

Photo: manfredxy/Shutterstock

Found in Franconian Switzerland, one of the oldest and most visited holiday areas of Germany, the Five-Seidla-Trail is a 20-km round-trip trek that will take you to five different Franconian breweries located in four villages along the way. Make sure to pick up a stamp card, “Stempelkarte” in German, at your first stop to have validated at each brewery. Not only will this beer-drinkers diploma prove your bragging rights for completing the trail and drinking all five seidlas (German for half-liters) of beer, but it will also earn you a discount on a souvenir mug once your journey has ended. Give yourself all day for this hike as you’ll want to take your time enjoying both the breweries and the beautiful Bavarian countryside. The breweries on this tour include:

2. Ice Age Trail, Wisconsin

Devil's Lake State Park, Baraboo area, Wisconsin

Photo: MarynaG/Shutterstock

The Ice Age Trail meanders across Wisconsin for more than 1,000 miles, hugging the edge of the state’s beautiful landscape, which was shaped by continental glacial ice more than 12,000 years ago. It takes anywhere from seven to 12 weeks to complete this hike from start to finish, but lucky for you, there are some well-known breweries to seek shelter in along the way (or raise a toast at after completing a rigorous day hike). The trail is maintained by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. It’s recommended to check the website for trail conditions and purchase a guidebook with detailed trail maps to help you along your journey. All of these breweries are located along the southern portion of the trail. If you’re not game to spend two to four months hiking the entire trail, you can opt to do a shorter section between the cities of Verona and West Bend in order to hit each of them then call it a trip:

3. The Appalachian Trail Pub Crawl, Eastern US

View of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Photo: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

The Appalachian Trail is located in the Eastern United States, stretching 2,200 miles between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine as it winds through 14 different states. It’s estimated to take between five and seven months to complete the whole trail with a success rate of only about 20 percent. While most of the hike is in wild or forest lands, lucky for you, it also passes through plenty of civilization full of locals who appreciate a nice cold one. The adventurous imbibers at hiking website The Trek routed this epic pub crawl along the way:

4. Colorado Trail, Colorado

Idyllic Rocky Mountains scenery in Colorado

Photo: Patrick Poendl/Shutterstock

Connecting 500 miles of the Rocky Mountains from Durango heading northeast to Denver, the Colorado Trail passes through six national forests and takes dedicated hikers six weeks to complete. Most of the trek is above 10,000 feet with the highest point being 13,271 feet, so be ready for the added obstacles that come with hiking at higher altitudes. In addition to the elk, moose, mountain lions, and osprey you may stumble upon, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to drink beer. Beer drinkers lounging in their natural habitat may be found at these spots along the way:

5. Pacific Crest Trail, Western US

View of Echo lake from Tahoe rim and the Pacific crest trail

Photo: Ajinkya9/Shutterstock

Running 2,650 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington, the Pacific Crest Trail stretches all the way from Mexico to Canada and passes through forests, mountain ranges, and desert landscapes. The full journey includes 25 national forests and seven national parks. Along with the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail helps make up what is considered the “Triple Crown” of hiking and takes about three to five months to complete. Even if you only do a day hike or weekend backpacking trip, you can relax with a brew along the way at these spots:

If you’re lucky enough, you may come across a “Trail Angel” in one of these watering holes — locals that are known for purchasing food or drinks for hikers and have even offered travelers rides or places to stay.

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