What I Learned from Hiking the U.S. State High Points
At 11:30 PM on May 18th, 2013, the lights switched on and there was banging on the bunkhouse walls. “Wake up! Wake up! JJ, our lead guide, shouted. You have 30 minutes to get ready!” After a whopping 4 hours of sleep, the 18 of us groggily unzipped our sleeping bags at the RMI bunkhouse on Mount Rainier, 10,060 feet above the clouds. We had spent the better part of 8 hours that day hiking from the parking lot at Paradise to Muir Camp. With freezing temperatures and the wind blowing outside we would put on our down parkas, head lamps, crampons, 50 lb packs and head toward the summit of Mt Rainier.
As we ascended up the 3-foot wide ice ledges carved into the side of this massive glaciered volcano it became apparent to me that on this day I would not summit. I simply did not have the mountaineering experience on glaciers to safely continue forward and I made the wise decision to turn back.
Later that night as I lay in bed I was completely disillusioned. I questioned on whether I would ever climb or hike again. However, over the next few weeks my passion for the mountains held strong. I had heard about the High Pointers Club, a group dedicated to climbing the high points of all 50 U.S. states. I thought that this could be a perfect way to not only see the country but also to work my way back up to Rainier. The State High Points would provide me with the opportunity to train and test my skills on diverse mountainous environments. This would give me the experience to tackle some of the more advanced climbs in the United States.
There are some high points such as Britton Hill (Florida) and Jerimoth Hill (Rhode Island) that are simply a walk in the park but others are much more difficult and require peak physical conditioning combined with excellent mountaineering skills such as Mount Whitney (California), Mount Hood (Oregon), Granite Peak (Montana), and Gannett Peak (Wyoming).
Below is a list of the U.S. State High Points:
Rank by Elevation | U.S. State | Peak Name | Elevation
- Alaska | Denali | 20,310 Feet
- California | Mount Whitney | 14,495 Feet
- Colorado | Mount Elbert | 14,433 Feet
- Washington | Mount Rainier | 14,411 Feet
- Wyoming | Gannett Peak | 13,804 Feet
- Hawaii | Mauna Kea | 13,796 Feet
- Utah | Kings Peak | 13,528 Feet
- New Mexico | Wheeler Peak | 13,161 Feet
- Nevada | Boundary Peak | 13,140 Feet
- Montana | Granite Peak | 12,799 Fee
- Idaho | Borah Peak | 12,662 Feet
- Arizona | Humphreys Peak | 12,633 Feet
- Oregon | Mount Hood | 11,239 Feet
- Texas | Guadalupe Peak | 8,749 Feet
- South Dakota | Harney Peak | 7,242 Feet
- North Carolina | Mount Mitchell | 6,684 Feet
- Tennessee | Clingmans Dome | 6,643 Feet
- New Hampshire | Mount Washington | 6,288 Feet
- Virginia | Mount Rogers | 5,729 Feet
- Nebraska | Panorama Point | 5,426 Feet
- New York | Mount Marcy | 5,344 Feet
- Maine | Katahdin | 5,268 Feet
- Oklahoma | Black Mesa | 4,973 Feet
- West Virginia | Spruce Knob | 4,861 Feet
- Georgia | Brasstown Bald | 4,784 Fee
- Vermont | Mount Mansfield | 4,393 Feet
- Kentucky | Black Mountain | 4,139 Feet
- Kansas | Mount Sunflower | 4,039 Feet
- South Carolina | Sassafras Mountain | 3,554 Feet
- North Dakota | White Butte | 3,506 Feet
- Massachusetts | Mount Greylock | 3,487 Feet
- Maryland | Backbone Mountain | 3,36 Feet
- Pennsylvania | Mount Davis | 3,213 Feet
- Arkansas | Magazine Mountain | 2,753 Feet
- Alabama | Cheaha Mountain | 2,405 Feet
- Connecticut | Mount Frissell-South Slope | 2,372 Feet
- Minnesota | Eagle Mountain | 2,301 Feet
- Michigan | Mount Arvon | 1,978 Feet
- Wisconsin | Timms Hill | 1,951 Feet
- New Jersey | High Point | 1,803 Feet
- Missouri | Taum Sauk Mountain | 1,772 Feet
- Iowa | Hawkeye Point | 1,670 Feet
- Ohio | Campbell Hill | 1,549 Feet
- Indiana | Hoosier Hill | 1,257 Feet
- Illinois | Charles Mound | 1,235 Feet
- Rhode Island | Jerimoth Hill | 812 Feet
- Mississippi | Woodall Mountain | 806 Feet
- Louisiana | Driskill Mountain | 535 Feet
- Delaware | Ebright Azimuth | 442 Feet
- Florida | Britton Hill | 345 Feet
Climbing has taught me a lot about life and one of the most important lessons that I have learned is that it is best to accomplish your big goals in small and manageable tasks. It might sound cliché, but by taking this approach you will focus on the journey not the destination. Each lesson and experience along your path will become a part of you and make you stronger for when you finally reach that big moment.
In my time since Rainier, the High Points challenge has taken me across the country. From Mount Marcy, the highest peak in New York to Mount Washington, which had the second fastest recorded winds on Earth, I have been methodically ticking high point after high point off my list. While I would love to have this list completed in the next few years and take another shot at Rainier I know that it is best for me to take my time and enjoy the journey.
I look forward to seeing you on the trail!
The Explorer’s Passage
P.S. Want to learn more about our adventures click HERE or if you have hiked one of the U.S. State High Points we would love to hear about it just shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.