Most people who enjoy hiking don’t need a reason to get outside and go trekking, but if you need an incentive, look no further than the Reward Yourself – Hike the Smokies Challenge.

At the first sign of spring, I tie up my hiking boots and hit the trails. It doesn’t matter if the trails are short or long, crowded or isolated, familiar and worn or new and overgrown. As soon as the weather is ideal for hiking, I take off.

Photo: Mike Miley

For people who might need more incentive than just pleasant weather, Great Smoky Mountains National Park has implemented the Reward Yourself – Hike the Smokies Challenge.

The motivational program begins April 25, the last day of free entrance for National Parks Week. On April 25, people can pick up a free, pocket-sized mileage record book at the Sugarlands and Oconaluftee Visitor Centers in the park. After April 25, the books cost $1.00.

According to the press release about the event:

“The challenge is to keep track and record the mileage from each trail excursion, even if it is the same trail day after day.”

Hikers are rewarded with mileage pins after reaching 100 miles, 250 miles and 500 miles; with more than 800 miles of trails in the park, there will be no shortage of trails to trod. Successful hikers will also be recorded in the park’s “Hike the Smokies” 2010 web records.

Community Connection:

If Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a bit too crowded for you, there’s plenty of space to find inspiration in Glacier National Park.