Triple Crown of Hiking

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Hikers on the Bob Marshall Wilderness trail. The trail is maintained by The Montana Wilderness Association (CDT Montana).

The Triple Crown of Hiking informally refers to the three major U.S. long-distance hiking trails:

The total length of the three trails is about 7,900 miles (12,700 km); vertical gain is more than 1,000,000 feet (190 mi; 300 km). A total of 22 states are visited if the three trails are completed.[4] The American Long Distance Hiking Association – West (ALDHA–West) is the only organization that recognizes this hiking feat. At the ALDHA–West gathering, held each fall, the Triple Crown honorees are recognized and awarded plaques noting their achievement. As of November 2018, 396 hikers have been designated Triple Crowners by ALDHA-West since 1994.[5]


The first person to ever achieve The Triple Crown of Hiking was Eric Ryback. Ryback completed the Appalachian Trail in 1969 as a 16-year-old. He completed the Pacific Crest Trail in 1970 and chronicled it in his 1971 book The High Adventure of Eric Ryback: Canada to Mexico on Foot. Ryback completed the Continental Divide Trail in 1972 and chronicled it in his second book, The Ultimate Journey (now out of print).[6]

In 2013, Reed Gjonnes, age 13, became the youngest person to thru-hike all three trails to complete the triple crown. A thru-hike is defined as completing a long trail in a single trip. She hiked all three trails as continuous northbound hikes in one hiking season each. [7] Along with her father Eric Gjonnes, she hiked The Pacific Crest Trail in 2011, the Appalachian Trail in 2012, and the Continental Divide Trail in 2013.

As of 2018, Christian Geiger, age 9, is the youngest person to have hiked all three trails to complete the Triple Crown.[8] Christian, known by his trail name Buddy Backpacker, completed all three trails with his step-father Dion Pagonis.[9] Together they completed the Appalachian Trail in 2013 when Buddy was 5[10][11], the Pacific Crest Trail when he was 6 in 2014[12] and began the Continental Divide Trail in the spring 2016 and completed it in September 2017 when he was 9[13].

Elsye Walker, known as chardonnay on the trail, is the first black woman to hike all three trails to complete the triple crown.[14] In 2015 when she thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail in 2016/2018[15][16], and in 2017 she thru-hiked Continental Divide Trail [17].


The first person to walk the Triple Crown back-to-back was Brian Robinson, who completed the Triple Crown in 2001.[18][19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pacific Crest Trail Association. "Pacific Crest Trail – Frequently Asked Questions". Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail: Online Map and Guide – Mexico to Canada. United States Forest Service. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  2. ^ Gailey, Chris (2006). "Appalachian Trail FAQs" (accessed September 14, 2006)
  3. ^ Karen Berger. "America's Triple Crown—Hiking on the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide Trails". Gorp. Archived from the original on May 13, 2010. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
  4. ^ Glenn Adams, Associated Press Writer (October 27, 2001). "Hiker Achieves 'Triple Crown'". Washington Post. Retrieved November 25, 2009.
  5. ^ "Triple Crown", American Long Distance Hiking Association – West
  6. ^ "Eric Ryback". Cold Splinters blog. November 5, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2016.
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Buddy Backpacker". BuddyBackpacker. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  9. ^ "About Buddy". BuddyBackpacker. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  10. ^ "Being Buddy Backpacker". Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  11. ^ Kindergarten Can Wait: The Story of Buddy Backpacker, retrieved 2017-10-15
  12. ^ "Meet Andrea (Buddy Backpacker's Mom) – Hike Like A Woman". Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  13. ^ "Buddy Backpacker". Retrieved 2017-10-15.
  14. ^ "wandering chardonnay". wandering chardonnay. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  15. ^ "107 Chardonnay- Looking for a Triple Crown This Summer". Cascade Hiker Podcast. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  16. ^ "Walking Off the Beaten Path: The Not-So-Happy Trails Quit". Quitting by Design. 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  17. ^ "Hiking With Chardonnay – Hike Like A Woman". Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  18. ^ Steubner, Steve (October 8, 2006). "Hiking the Continental Divide Trail". AmericanProfile .com. Retrieved November 16, 2016.
  19. ^ Hazley, Matthew; Butler, Robert III (2005). "Matthew Hazley – TrailCast 12 (43:00; audio talk)". TrailCast. Retrieved November 23, 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Berger, Karen and Daniel Smith (1993). Where the Waters Divide: A Walk along America's Continental Divide. New York: Random House.
  • Bruce, Dan (2000) The Thru-Hiker's Handbook Hot Springs, North Carolina: Center for Appalachian Trail Studies.
  • Norton, Russell (1997) Long Trail End-to-Ender's Guide. Waterbury Center, Vermont: Green Mountain Club.
  • Shaffer, Earl V. (1983) Walking With Spring. Harper's Ferry, West Virginia: the Appalachian Trail Conference.

External links[edit]