Do This: Sierra Club’s Annual One Day Hike (4/22/23)

Have you completed the ultimate local hiking challenge yet?

It is time!

The 48th* annual Sierra Club One Day Hike (ODH) takes place on April 22, 2023. The ODH is a 50K (31.1 miles) or a 100K (62.2 miles) stroll along the C&O Canal Towpath, to the Bolivar Community Center, just up the road from Harper’s Ferry. It’s mostly flat and the scenery is often incredible along the Potomac River. The 100K starts in Georgetown, while the 50K starts at White’s Ferry.

The event is extremely well-organized each year. The volunteers make the event happen. They operate all the support stations, providing snacks and drinks, plus the medical volunteers ready to help if you get blisters, or if you have other issues. At the end of the hike, traditionally you will find a celebration feast of chili, pizza and sodas.

You can also stay nearby in Harper’s Ferry for the evening, and take the train back to DC in the morning.

Regular registration opens on February 9th @ 5pm and caps at 350 hikers.

Register here (opens Feb. 9th).

Cost: $85

Find more information on the ODH website

(Note: Usually registration re-opens after any cancellations, so if you miss out on one of 350 slots available, usually 40-50 people will cancel before the actual hike, so you’ll still have a chance. Registration will re-open on April 5th.)

* The ODH wasn’t held in 2020 or 2021.

I’ve completed the ODH seven times, so here are some tips on what to expect.

Tips for the 50K

* Training: Do at least 3-4 training hikes between 10-16 miles. More is always better, but ensure one hike is 16 miles or longer. Note: If you’re doing the 100K, without question do longer hikes, at least one 30-40 mile training hike would be the best strategy.

*Attire: Wear the shoes, socks and clothing you’ll use for the ODH on the training hikes. Helps identify blister hot spots and areas of chafing. Many people wear cross-trainers or running shoes. Hiking boots are also fine, but the terrain is flat and you may want to jog a bit.

*Prevent chafing: Use an anti-chafe balm (like Body Glide) in places that rub together.

*Foot care: Use moleskin on your feet before you start on your blister hot spots. Using the Body Glide on your feet also helps.

*Medical: Take a couple Advil at the first support station or after the first 1-2 hours. If you start to get blisters, have them treated at the next support station. Don’t wait, blisters are the primary reason people don’t finish the hike.

*On the hike: Try alternating between running and walking for short distances. For example, jog 1 minute and walk 3 minutes for a few miles. It helps to use different muscles. Drink a lot of fluids and eat a lot of salty snacks (conveniently supplied at the support stations). Have fun and make friends! You will have plenty of time, they don’t call it the One Day Hike for nothing.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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