Let’s get right to it: There are two challenges.
Winter 50 Challenge: Hike a total of 50 miles of Letchworth State Park trails between December 21st and March 21st and join The Hike Letchworth Winter 50 Club.
Hiked ‘Em All Challenge: Hike all the open trails in the Letchworth State Park Official Map & Guide, any time of year, and join The Hike Letchworth Hiked ‘Em All Club. Registration for this challenge will open April 1st, after all roads and trails are open in the park. And before you ask - Yes! You can use any Winter 50 completed trail towards the Hiked ‘Em All challenge.
Why challenge hikers? To give you a reason to get outside and explore Letchworth in all seasons!
How do we get started? Follow the list below to start your challenge:
Read this entire page. It has lots of great information and answers frequently asked questions!
Read the Liability & Assumption of Risk page.
Go to the Sign Up page, enter your information, check the agreement box and continue to your challenge page.
Print the corresponding challenge checklist.
Ensure you’ve minimized your risks BEFORE heading out on the trail.
Grab an Official Map & Guide from Trail Otter or any number of other businesses & restaurants near Letchworth.
Head outside and get on the trail!
Watch for our free hikes to help you knock a few trails off your list with other like-minded hikers.
Does the Winter 50 need to be completed on different trails? No - you just need to hike a total of 50 miles between December 21st and March 21st. You may hike the same trail over and over again to get in your 50 miles.
Why hike in wintertime? It’s quieter in the woods as fewer people are hiking. Ambient sound is dampened by the snow. You get to breathe the cool crisp air. No bugs!!! (Although those ticks can still get ya).
Do we need to complete the challenges in one year? No - take as long as you need to complete this challenge. No need to push yourself too far, too fast or put yourself in danger to complete.
Is this a race? It is a challenge, not a race. We will not be tracking who does this the fastest, or any situation where someone may put themselves or others at risk for rescue or injury.
Is there cell service in Letchworth State Park? Depends, but assume no. There is very little to no cellular service at the south end of Letchworth (Portageville/Falls end) and potentially spotty in the north (Mt. Morris/Dam end). If you’re worried about your safety, consider bringing a satellite communication device.
How hard are the challenges?
Winter 50 Challenge: We rate the winter challenge as moderate to difficult, depending on winter conditions and available trails.
We highly recommend hiking with others at all times of the year, and especially in winter. If something goes wrong, others in your group may be able to get you the assistance you may need, especially in areas without cell service.
Hiked ‘Em All Challenge: This any time of year challenge is rated moderate by the Official Map & Guide, but can be broken up to allow novices to complete the trails. It cannot be overstated that your risks increase dramatically in wintertime. This cannot be stressed enough: IT IS VERY DIFFICULT AND POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS TO ATTEMPT THE “HIKED ‘EM ALL” CHALLENGE IN WINTERTIME. We have intentionally not made a winter Hiked ‘Em All challenge, as trailhead remoteness and short daylight hours make completing too dangerous for most.
What to bring/wear: In addition to a hiking partner, bring seasonally appropriate wool or synthetic clothing. Always be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a change of footwear and socks for your car ride home just in case it is wet or muddy. You’ll need extra water for hydration in wintertime. Use hiking poles for balance if necessary. And don’t forget the sunscreen.
Summer & Early Fall: we highly recommend long pants, as there are plants that may make you very itchy.
Winter & Early Spring: ice and snow melt makes hiking much harder. MICROspikes or similar products and/or snowshoes may be required. We sell and rent MICROspikes, and may have snowshoes to rent at Trail Otter (supply is very limited). Leave the sneakers at home, along with your cotton socks - bad ideas in snow, slush & cold mud.
Any digital maps? We suggest to use Avenza maps in Letchworth State Park.
How can I track mileage? Use the AllTrails app to track mileage, or any familiar app. The challenge is based on the honor system, so if you’re estimating - do your best!
Bugs: Mosquitoes will be present in the spring/summer/fall so any deet/picaridin product works best but use anything you’re comfortable with on your body. Ticks are now everywhere in the Genesee Valley and can be active any time of year. Use permethrin on your boots and clothing, and deet or picaridin on your skin for the best protection.
Will you offer hikes to help complete the challenges? Yes, we will offer free hikes throughout the year to help you finish. Check the Trail Otter Hiking Club schedule page for details. The hikes will be weather and trail condition dependent to minimize risk.
How can I minimize risk? Below are a few things you can do to minimize your risk, but going into the woods is inherently dangerous and the below list cannot make you risk-free. Remember, by participating in this challenge you are responsible for your own safety:
TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU ARE GOING AND WHEN YOU EXPECT TO RETURN. Provide this person with Letchworth State Park phone numbers: (585) 658-4692 / 585-493-3600 and instruct them to call those numbers if you are overdue. Many trail are considered REMOTE in the wintertime. This means no cell reception and very few if any people traversing the trails. Having someone who knows where you are hiking and can call for help may save your life if the unexpected happens. Download the Watcher Sheet to help you provide information to the person watching for your return.
BE PREPARED. Check weather reports, wear appropriate clothing and anticipate an unexpected night in the woods. Bring at least an emergency blanket/bivy, extra food & water, and a fire starter just in case. (Tip: keep your phone close to your body to keep it warm so the battery lasts longer - placing it in airplane mode also extends battery life.)
PURCHASE A PERMETHRIN PRODUCT AND TREAT YOUR CLOTHING & BOOTS BEFORE HIKING. Lyme disease is debilitating and may take years to recover. You do not want to contract Lyme disease from deer ticks. Deer ticks can be difficult to find on your body, and many hikers don’t realize they’ve been bitten until it’s too late. A spray can of permethrin costs less than $10 and kills deer ticks. Follow package instructions. Combine with a deet or picaridin product for your skin to minimize your risk for infection.
BRING THE 10 ESSENTIALS: (https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28708.html)
ALWAYS BRING A HEADLAMP OR FLASHLIGHT. Many rescues are initiated because hikers miscalculate sunset and have no light source. Remember, it becomes dark earlier in the woods than at your house (unless your house is in the woods :-).
BRING ALONG AN OFFICIAL LETCHWORTH MAP & GUIDE. Free maps are available at Trail Otter and many other Genesee River Valley locations. FREE! Familiarizing yourself with the map before heading out on the trail.
BRING A WHISTLE. A whistle is louder and travels much farther than your voice and doesn’t go hoarse. Whistles help rescue personnel locate you. Lightweight and easy to use. (Tip: purchase a pea-less whistle for use in wintertime).
BRING A COMPASS. Learn how to use it.
BRING A PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT. Depending on where you are in the park, understand that rescue personnel may take more than an hour to reach you. Be prepared for basic first aid needs. In addition to items in a commercially produced first aid kit, consider the following:
Bring all personal medications for a 24 hour period (in case you have that unexpected overnight).
If your allergy requires an EPI pen, bring both pens - you may need both to stop an allergic reaction.
Bring chewable baby aspirin (81mg) and understand how to use it in the event of a heart attack.
Use STOP if you become lost: Sit, Think, Observe, Plan - take 5 minutes to calm down and think can potentially save your life.
And please remember to practice Leave No Trace while on the trail: https://lnt.org/why/7-principles/
Plan ahead and prepare
Dispose of waste properly
Leave what you find
Be considerate of others
Travel & camp on durable surfaces
Minimize campfire impacts
I finished my Winter 50, now what? Head over to the Finisher’s Page to tell us you’ve completed your awesome achievement and find out how to obtain the snazzy Hike Letchworth Winter 50 patch!