A young boy holds his father's hand and smiles up at him, while his mother and older brother stand in the background.

Outdoor challenges to keep you motivated throughout the year 

With a new year upon us, it’s time to pause and reflect on the past year while thinking about goals for the upcoming year. As you begin to ponder what you’d like to achieve in 2024, an outdoor challenge might be what your family needs to stay motivated to keep moving throughout the year. 

Committing to an outdoor challenge has many benefits beyond additional time spent outdoors. Some of these include:

  • Boost confidence
  • Build motivation 
  • Create distraction-free family time
  • Encourage new friendships
  • Keep yourself accountable 
  • Set goals in other aspects of life 
  • Strengthen relationships 

Hopefully, one of these nine outdoor challenges will help you be more active in the outdoors this year. 

52 Hike Challenge

The goal of the 52 Hike Challenge is to complete a one-mile hike (approximately 1.6 km) every week for 52 weeks of the year. You can modify the challenge to hike more in the summer months or more than one hike a week for those times when life gets in the way. 

Signing up is free, or you may purchase various packages for swag as you complete the challenge. The website and Facebook groups are resources for hike recommendations, morale boosting, and more. They also provide a free hike log you can download to track your progress. Or download this cute tracker [PDF] from Adventure After Kids. 

52 Hike Challenge Kids Series 

If you’re looking for motivation to try new outdoor activities beyond hiking, or to add variety to your time outside, the 52 Hike Kids Challenge is a good place to start. The end goal is to help children learn healthy habits, gain mental awareness, and connect with family and friends in nature. You may adapt the challenge to meet family needs. Choose the 52 activities you want to do, from stand-up paddleboarding to fishing. Activities can be repeated, but part of the fun is to switch things up by type of activity, location, and more. 

Sign-up for this challenge for free, but you can’t deny the motivation that swag can bring to adults and children alike. A patch, activity book, finisher medal, an end-of-year celebration, and more can boost that motivation to make it through the challenge. A tree is planted in honour of anyone who purchases a package and completes 52 activities. 

Generation Wild 100 Things to Do Before You Turn 12 Challenge 

The mission of the Colorado-based non-profit Generation Wild is to get kids to experience the world through outdoor recreation and play. To support that mission, Generation Wild created the 100 Things to Do Before You Turn 12 Challenge. The movement- and nature-based activities include everything from climbing a tree to dancing in the rain. The challenge may be modified based on location and completed at one’s own pace. The list is free to download and available in English or Spanish. 

Hike it Baby/Outgrown 30 Challenge

Encouraging young families to spend at least 30 minutes outside three times per week or to hike 30 miles (48 km) in 30 days, the Hike it Baby 30 Challenge is another way to encourage more time outside. Created with L.L.Bean, the Family Trail Guide is an excellent resource for finding places to explore and specific hikes based on location search. The community is also a great place to find new opportunities to get outside. 

Hikers 365 Challenge Family Trail Time 

The Hikers 365 Challenge Family Trail Time encourages families to get off of screens and hike 10 different trails at least a ½ mile (about 0.8 km) in distance over 90 days. Families can start whenever they like, keeping in mind that the challenge time frame is 90 days. Join the challenge in various ways including the basic package that comes with a patch and stickers or the VIP package that includes youth size t-shirts. A tree is planted in a national forest through One Tree Planted after official completion of the challenge. If families want to commit to a bigger challenge, there’s the Hikers 365 Challenge to hike 365 miles within 365 days, more specific challenges including the Waterfall Chaser hiking challenge, or seasonal hiking challenges

A mother sits on a log outside in the snow next to her young son, who's smiling.

50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 ¾ 

A non-profit based in the U.K., the Natural Trust created a free series of 50 outdoor-based activities to try before you’re 11 ¾. There’s a variety of activities that can be completed throughout the year—rolling down a hill and hunting for rocks and fossils are some of the favourites. As Europe’s largest conservation charity, the goal of this challenge is to get children into nature to explore historic and natural places, whether in Europe or beyond. 


Since 2017, river-outfitting company OARS has challenged families to spend 100 hours or more unplugged every year. Whether it’s backpacking, collecting bugs, or kayaking, the ways you spend time moving outdoors are up to you. The challenge began with a summer focus, encouraging families to get outdoors for a total of four days of play over 100 hours. Families can extend the challenge for a year-round goal of spending 100 hours unplugged throughout each season. This is a personally motivated challenge without any sign-up. Log the hours your way, but be sure to share your achievement with others and encourage other families to join in. 

1,000 Hours Outside 

This yearly challenge encourages families to ditch screen time in favour of spending 1,000 Hours Outside. Find a wide range of downloadable trackers designed by participants, as well as ideas for average time outside for those with harsh winters and hot summers. Look for motivation and suggestions for outdoor adventure throughout the challenge by listening to the 1,000 Hours Outside podcast for Android or iOS. Curriculum for outdoor education and a shop full of gear, activity books, and more help keep families outfitted and up to the task. There’s also a very active Facebook group and app to stay connected through the journey. 

365 Mile Challenge 

Complete a mile of activity your way on the 365 Mile Challenge. Whether you get in a mile by riding bikes to school or scooting to the park, it’s the family’s choice. Adapt the requirements to fit your lifestyle, even if it means getting multiple miles in one day and taking the next day off. Mini challenges throughout the year keep motivation going from start to finish. Connect your preferred tracking device (Apple Watch, Fitbit, etc.) to the app to help track your miles or log the miles on your own. Sign up for the full registration or à la carte to access the 365 Mile community and more. 

Create your own challenge 

Families can also create challenges to fit their own outdoor and movement goals. Choose activities you enjoy, commit to trying new things, or agree to volunteer a certain number of hours for movement-based causes. Create a plan that includes the time frame, constraints, and how you’ll measure progress in meeting the goal. Once you begin, be sure to celebrate achievements throughout.

Don’t forget to share your intentions and progress with others!

Courtney Johnson is a guidebook author, grant writer, freelance writer, and teacher based near Boulder, Colorado. When not shuttling her 10-year-old to club soccer, she enjoys hiking, trail running, paddling, and exploring. You can follow her adventures here.

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