By Mark Ambrogi
The Hoosiers Hikers Council members figured what better way to celebrate Indiana’s 200th statehood anniversary than to hike 200 miles in the state.
“The challenge is hike 200 miles on natural surface hiking trails,” said Mark Stuttgen, chairman of the Bicentennial Hikers Challenge and HHC board member.
The challenge began on Jan. 1 and will last until June 30, 2017.
Stuttgen, a Martinsville resident, said hikers must travel those 200 miles on at least 10 of the trails on the Bicentennial Trail List. The list is on hoosierhikerscouncil.org.
“You can go out and experience trails you’ve never hiked on before,” Stuttgen said. “It’s a great way to explore Indiana. Two hundred miles gives you good reason to hike more than you normally do.”
Hikers will keep a log of the miles they’ve traveled on each trail.
“It’s all on the honor system,” Stuttgen said.
While supplies last, hikers that reach the goal will receive a free Indiana Bicentennial patch and an electronic certificate showing completion.
“It’s more of a thing to say I’ve done this and I was part of the challenge, more than anything else,” Stuttgen said. “It’s not so much of a race as personal experience. The idea is to get you out there and hike somewhere you haven’t before.”
There are more than 100 trails on the list, including Ritchey Woods in Fishers.
Stuttgen said more than 500 individuals have registered so far on the website. There is no fee and it is not necessary to be an HHC member.
Stuttgen said his non-profit organization promotes natural trail usage.
“This Bicentennial Challenge is another way of promoting trails,” Stuttgen said.
The Hoosiers Hikers Counsel builds natural surface hiking trails.
“There are no man-made materials, no rocks or gravel or blacktop,” Stuttgen said. “They are typically narrow trails.”