If you adore the outdoors, you’re sure to love highpointing. Many summiteers, hikers, and nature lovers have pursued this hobby for nearly 40 years.
Highpointing is a great way to boost your mood and outlook, and it can also be an intense workout. But the best part is that anyone can participate, regardless of age or ability.
Today, we’re rounding up all the info you need to jumpstart your new favorite hobby.
Let’s hit it!
What Is Highpointing?
Highpointing sounds like it could be the latest viral TikTok craze. But this extreme sport has been around for some time.
The term refers to traveling to the highest natural elevation in a specific region. Sure, many of these altitude points happen to be mountain peaks. But other destinations could be as modest as a hill or plateau. It’s a fantastic form of exercise, and for some folks, it’s about the challenge, too.
Highpointing started in 1986 with Jack Longacre, an enthusiastic mountaineer who loved challenging climbs.
Eventually, he noticed a trend. Some of his fellow climbers began recording their tallest summits in a given area. Longacre was inspired and decided to master the highest elevation in every state. Now, thousands of people worldwide follow in his footsteps, literally and figuratively!
There’s no right or wrong way to highpoint. You can hike, ride on horseback, or drive a vehicle to your destination. This makes it a perfect activity for people of all ages and physical capabilities.
The Benefits of Highpointing
People enjoy this activity for dozens of reasons. One of the most obvious is that it’s a great way to stay in shape. Frequent hikes and climbs are a surefire way to build strength and endurance.
Many highpointers say it’s also beneficial for their mental and emotional health. Exercise and time outdoors are proven to relieve stress. For many, these things provide a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that boosts self-esteem.
There’s also a social aspect to this pastime. Climbers can connect with others to plan outings. Hiking in a group lets you build connections you won’t find anywhere else.
Highpointing is an excellent way to learn about the ecosystem in a particular area. You might discover you care more about the environment as you spend more time outdoors. Heck, it could even become a spiritual experience for you. There’s nothing like connecting with the natural world and having time to reflect during a long trek.
It’s not too late to get started. Here’s one woman’s story: You Started WHAT after 60? Highpointing across America.
What Are the Easiest States for Highpointing?
Reaching a highpoint sounds intimidating. Some summits are at very high altitudes or in extremely remote locations. But others are easier to climb than you might think. Fortunately, there’s an effort scale that rates the difficulty level of each US point.
Of all 50 states, 14 peaks are so accessible that you can drive to them. The easiest is Cheaha Mountain in Alabama, which sits just over 2,400 feet. Florida’s Britton Hill is the fourth-easiest but carries the lowest elevation of 345 feet. These spots are so easy to access you can summit them in a four-door sedan.
The next 16 points require a bit more effort. While you can’t get to most of them by car, they’re considered easy walks or hikes. The least challenging of these is Driskill Mountain in Louisiana, at a height of 535 feet. Mauna Kea in Hawaii is more demanding at 13,796 feet, but you can also get there in a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
These locations are perfect for folks starting their highpointing adventures or people with mobility issues. After all, you can reach the top using any method you choose.
You’ll want some basic gear for the easier hikes: 7 Best Lightweight Backpacks For Hiking And Camping.
The Most Difficult States for Highpointing
After Mauna Kea, the remaining 20 state highpoints only become more grueling. Some summits require moderate effort and can be pretty strenuous. Others are downright hard and demand a considerable amount of effort, strength, and technical skill. Many also call for special clothing and equipment.
The five most demanding points are all in the western part of the US and are all at incredibly high altitudes.
They include Montana’s Granite Peak, Mt. Hood in Oregon, Mt. Rainier in Washington, and Wyoming’s Gannett Peak. The toughest is Denali in Alaska, which sits at a whopping 20,320 feet.
Beyond 7,500 feet, most people have trouble breathing and may even feel sick. Scaling these giant mountains requires a good amount of preparation and acclimation. You’ll need to slowly work up to these hikes to avoid illness, injury, or even death.
What Is the Highpointers Club?
Highpointing is an awesome way to exercise, challenge yourself, and get out into nature. That’s why several people got together and started the Highpointers Club.
The group promotes the pastime and gathers summiteers who want to support each other and work together. Members also protect the untouched areas where these summits are located. Some even work with public and private landowners to ensure the preservation of the land.
Joining the Highpointers Club comes with tons of benefits. You’ll receive their newsletter and frequent updates on your fellow climbers’ accomplishments. You also become eligible for both recognition and competitive awards. It’s an excellent way to connect with the rest of the community.
Check out the 5 Best Hiking Apps for Finding Trails.
Is Highpointing Worth It?
Highpointing can be an extreme sport, but it doesn’t have to be. The best part about this pastime is that anyone can participate, regardless of fitness level.
If you want to try highpointing, just look up which areas have the tallest elevation. Your introduction to this sport could be as simple as climbing a hill right outside your city. Whether you enjoy a challenge or prefer an easy hike, it might become your new favorite activity.
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