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.


The Summit of Mount Marcy – New York

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

  1. Alaska | Denali | 20,310 Feet
  2. California | Mount Whitney | 14,495 Feet
  3. Colorado | Mount Elbert | 14,433 Feet
  4. Washington | Mount Rainier | 14,411 Feet
  5. Wyoming | Gannett Peak | 13,804 Feet
  6. Hawaii | Mauna Kea | 13,796 Feet
  7. Utah | Kings Peak | 13,528 Feet
  8. New Mexico | Wheeler Peak | 13,161 Feet
  9. Nevada | Boundary Peak | 13,140 Feet
  10. Montana | Granite Peak | 12,799 Fee
  11. Idaho | Borah Peak | 12,662 Feet
  12. Arizona | Humphreys Peak | 12,633 Feet
  13. Oregon | Mount Hood | 11,239 Feet
  14. Texas | Guadalupe Peak | 8,749 Feet
  15. South Dakota | Harney Peak | 7,242 Feet
  16. North Carolina | Mount Mitchell | 6,684 Feet
  17. Tennessee | Clingmans Dome | 6,643 Feet
  18. New Hampshire | Mount Washington | 6,288 Feet
  19. Virginia | Mount Rogers | 5,729 Feet
  20. Nebraska | Panorama Point | 5,426 Feet
  21. New York | Mount Marcy | 5,344 Feet
  22. Maine | Katahdin | 5,268 Feet
  23. Oklahoma | Black Mesa | 4,973 Feet
  24. West Virginia | Spruce Knob | 4,861 Feet
  25. Georgia | Brasstown Bald | 4,784 Fee
  26. Vermont | Mount Mansfield | 4,393 Feet
  27. Kentucky | Black Mountain | 4,139 Feet
  28. Kansas | Mount Sunflower | 4,039 Feet
  29. South Carolina | Sassafras Mountain | 3,554 Feet
  30. North Dakota | White Butte | 3,506 Feet
  31. Massachusetts | Mount Greylock | 3,487 Feet
  32. Maryland | Backbone Mountain | 3,36 Feet
  33. Pennsylvania | Mount Davis | 3,213 Feet
  34. Arkansas | Magazine Mountain | 2,753 Feet
  35. Alabama | Cheaha Mountain | 2,405 Feet
  36. Connecticut | Mount Frissell-South Slope | 2,372 Feet
  37. Minnesota | Eagle Mountain | 2,301 Feet
  38. Michigan | Mount Arvon | 1,978 Feet
  39. Wisconsin | Timms Hill | 1,951 Feet
  40. New Jersey | High Point | 1,803 Feet
  41. Missouri | Taum Sauk Mountain | 1,772 Feet
  42. Iowa | Hawkeye Point | 1,670 Feet
  43. Ohio | Campbell Hill | 1,549 Feet
  44. Indiana | Hoosier Hill | 1,257 Feet
  45. Illinois | Charles Mound | 1,235 Feet
  46. Rhode Island | Jerimoth Hill | 812 Feet
  47. Mississippi | Woodall Mountain | 806 Feet
  48. Louisiana | Driskill Mountain | 535 Feet
  49. Delaware | Ebright Azimuth | 442 Feet
  50. Florida | Britton Hill | 345 Feet

The Summit of Mount Mansfield – Vermont

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.

If you would like 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 info@explorerspassage.com.

I look forward to seeing you on the trail!



Jeff Bonaldi
Founder & CEO
The Explorer’s Passage

About Jeff Bonaldi

Jeff Bonaldi is the Founder and CEO of The Explorer’s Passage, a premier adventure travel company. His mission is to provide travelers with the opportunity to transform their lives and the planet through the power of adventure.

Learn more about Jeff’s story and his company HERE.

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