2023 WNY Hiking Challenge

Welcome to the Western New York Hiking Challenge brought to you by Outside Chronicles. This challenge was created to get people out on the many beautiful and unique trails throughout WNY. Our goal is to encourage people to get outside, embrace the outdoors, and reap the many benefits of spending time in nature.

The Western New York Hiking Challenge is designed to give people an opportunity to visit new local parks and explore new trails. Along with hiking the trails, the challenge material will educate participants on parks’ history and local flora and fauna to spot while on the trail. Check out a sample hike.

The WNY Challenge gives 100% of profits to a worthy cause or organization that promotes stewardship of the outdoors or protects the lands we use for recreation. Learn about this year’s beneficiaries.

New to the Challenge? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

This year’s Challenge features 32 trails plus 2 bonus trails. You need to complete 20 trails to earn a finisher number, patch, sticker, and bragging rights.


  1. Complete ten (10) trails from the West group AND ten (10) trails from the East group for a total of 20 trails between May 1, 2023 and November 17, 2023, inclusive.
    • There are two (2) bonus hikes that will be used for additional prizes for those that “hike ‘em all” (i.e. all 34 trails).
      Bonus hikes do not count toward your 20 trails.
  2. Take a selfie at the Challenge landmark at each park. If you do not want your picture on social media, let us know or just take a picture of the landmark.
  3. Upload your picture to the submission page.
  4. Complete three (3) of (8) eight stewardship tasks. Upload proof of completion to submission page. NEW THIS YEAR!
  5. (Optional) Post your picture to WNY Hiking Challenge Group* or on Instagram.
    (use hashtags #HikeWNY and #WNYHikingChallenge. Tag @outsidechronicles).
    * registration code required to join
Ready for the WNY Ultra Hiking Challenge? Check out the details.

1. Register

Complete the registration form and submit your registration fee*.

Individual: $23
Family: $65
Pet: $23
Scouts: $15

*The registration fee is used to cover the cost of Challenge prizes (patches and stickers) and expenses. All profits from hiker registrations will be donated to 
Beaver Meadow Nature Center & Buffalo Audubon Society with a special donation to Earth Spirit. All profits from pet registrations will be donated to Sadie’s Safe Harbor Canine Rescue.

2. Download Challenge Packet

After your registration and payment have been verified, you will be e-mailed a link to the WNY Hiking Challenge packet. The packet contains information about the parks, maps, suggested routes, and landmark locations.

3. Hit the Trails!

Use the information in the Challenge packet to choose ten (10) trails from the West group AND ten (10) trails from the East group for a total of 20 trails between May 1, 2023 and November 17, 2023, inclusive. (See the trails and groups.). Get out there and find the landmarks! Each map has a suggested path, but feel free to make your own hike.

There will be a BONUS for people who want to complete ALL 32 trails and the 2 bonus hikes for a total of 34 trails.

Remember to take a garbage bag and leave the trails better than you found them.

4. Complete the Stewardship Tasks New this Year!

Complete three (3) of eight (8) stewardship tasks and upload proof of completion. Many are very easy and can be done while hiking. The stewardship tasks are:

  1. Pick up trash on the trail
  2. Introduce someone new to hiking
  3. Join our partner organizations
  4. Donate to our partner organizations
  5. Take a Leave No Trace class
  6. Participate in a clean-up event or trail maintenance event
  7. Participate in a partner event
  8. Participate in Community Science

More details will be provided in the challenge packet.

5. Upload Your Photos

To complete your Challenge requirement, you will need to upload your selfie to https://outsidechronicles.com/upload.

We love to see your photos and stories! Post your pictures to the WNY Hiking Challenge Facebook Group* , or tag @outsidechronicles on Instagram. Use the hashtags #HikeWNY and #WNYChallenge. You might even see your pictures and stories featured on our channels!
* registration code required to join

6. Follow Everyone’s Progress on the Challenge Board

Follow the Outside Chronicles Facebook Page for weekly updates.

Join the Outside Chronicles WNY Hiking Challenge Facebook Group*.

Check the the Live Challenge Board regularly.

* registration code required to join

6. Get some 2023 WNY Hiking Challenge Merch

Stay Safe, Stay Hydrated, and Explore!


What does the WNY Hiking Challenge Packet contain?
When you register, you will get the complete Challenge rules, a description of this year’s Challenge beneficiaries, a map and description for every hike with links to a digital map to use with Avenza Maps, check out a few sample pages here.

How long and hard are the hikes?
Most hikes are between 3-5 miles with a couple of exceptions that are 8-10 miles. You can always choose not to do those hikes. We rate the hikes as easy, moderate, and strenuous. You may see an easy hike that is 3.5 miles long and a moderate hike that is 3 miles long, the difference is the moderate hike will have more elevation. You can complete the challenge hiking all easy and moderate hikes. Start with the easy hikes and you will quickly be tackling moderate hikes.

Is the challenge family friendly or good for young children?
We have had many families and children of all ages complete the challenge. There are many hikes that are very doable with young kids, they will surprise you. Just make sure there is ice cream after the hike. Also make sure the young ones are properly hydrated and have some snacks for the trails. And remember, it is all about getting outside together. If you have a meltdown and don’t make it to the challenge landmark, no problem, it counts!

I’m new to hiking, what should do I need to know?
First of all, you will need appropriate hiking footwear. Crocs and sandals are not appropriate. You can get away with a good pair of sneakers on the easy trails, but we highly recommend trail runners or hiking boots on the moderate and strenuous hikes. Almost as important as your boots, are your socks. We suggested spending a little extra for Darn Tough socks (ankle or crew). You won’t be sorry and they have a lifetime warranty. However, any synthetic or wool sock will work.

Next you are going to need appropriate clothing. Synthetic clothing is a must to manage perspiration in warm and cold weather. Your layers will largely depend on the ambient temperature and weather conditions. We always suggest carrying a rain shell in the fair weather months.

Finally, we suggest someone in your group carry the 10 Essentials on every hike. Every hiker should have a headlamp and whistle at all times. We have a Resources page with checklists and links to our instructional videos. We are also offering a Virtual Hiking 101 Class.

I get an error that my e-mail address is in use when I register my child or pet?
Sorry, but the registration and upload system requires a unique ID.  Due to previous issues encountered, I am requiring  a unique e-mail address.  There are several free e-mail solutions from Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook.  I would suggest setting up a free e-mail address for your child or pet and turn on forwarding to your e-mail account.

What is the Ultra Challenge?
The Ultra Challenge is an optional challenge for $10 more. It contains is 5 hikes over 15 miles long, learn more here.

Can I add-on the ULTRA Challenge after I register?
Yes, simply pay the difference using the ULTRA add-on form: https://outsidechronicles.com/ultraadd

Are there any family discounts?
Yes, the family rate is $65 and entitles the family to up to 6 patches upon completion of the Challenge. Just select Family at registration. Families will only need to upload one group picture. Your family can include one or two pets with the total number of patches earned not to exceed 6.

Although we want all family members to go on every hike, we understand that things happen and this may not always be possible. We ask that most family members be present on a majority of trails. And those family members that show up for every hike can hold the patch over the slackers, just kidding!

Can families participate in the ULTRA?
Yes, the family ULTRA add-on price is $20. Please note that pets cannot participate in all of the ULTRA hikes. If you have a pet as part of your family discount, they will not earn an ULTRA patch.

Are there discounts for scouts?
Yes, registered Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA will receive a $8 discount. Scout registration is $15. Select the scouting organization at registration and provide your troop number.

Do I need to register by May 1?
No, you can register anytime between April 30 and November 17, 2023. You just need to complete 20 trails by November 17, 2023.

Are dogs welcome at the Challenge?
Absolutely, they can even register and earn a special patch and sticker. Please follow each parks’ rules when you bring your dog (i.e. they must be licensed, kept on a leash and you must clean up after them). Please note that some of the trails do not allow dogs, they will be noted in the WNY Hiking Challenge Packet.

Pets cannot participate in all of the ULTRA hikes and cannot earn an ULTRA patch.

How does my dog complete the stewardship tasks?
The best way you can be a steward with your dog is to keep them on a leash and clean up their waste properly. You do not have to complete 3 different stewardship tasks, but if you want to, we aren’t going to stop you. Your pet’s stewardship tasks should be automatically completed on the challenge board.

You mentioned that a book acted as the inspiration for these Challenges?
Correct, the book is out of print, but you may be able to find it used on Amazon or at the library. The book is Secret Places: Scenic Treasures of Western New York and Southern Ontario by Bruce Kershner.

The late Bruce Kershner was a great conservationist and advocate for places like Reinstein Woods and Zoar Valley. *He was also my wife’s high school teacher.

Good news, there is an updated version of Secret Places of Western New York written by Jennifer Hillman and William McKeever. The new version includes some of Kershner’s Secret Places and some new ones taken from his notes. It is a very well done tribute to the original book.

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