“Study Nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”– Frank Lloyd Wright

Total Miles Hiked

Difficulty (1-10)

Fun Level (1-10)

Since hiking has become one of our favorite hobbies we have spent copious time researching local trails and mountains. We especially try to find trails nearby since:

  1. We don’t like spending a lot of time in the car
  2. Our Corolla doesn’t like spending a lot of time with us (or climbing up mountains for that matter)

That is why I was pleasantly surprised to hear of a park from a coworker that was only an hour away!

I am still unsure how we missed this gem in our researching and travels but I am very happy we found it. Rocky Face Mountain Recreational Area is a surprisingly fun park that has struck the perfect balance between the great outdoors & the 21st century.

This is not to say that drones escort you up the trails and the trees are made up of selfie sticks instead of branches. Rather the park meets you where you’re at by offering up a challenge.

A challenge you say?

The vertical mile challenge is a doozy, but fun and rewarding!

The idea was first thought up by Jimmy Ballard and Doug Dawkins who hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2011, they thought it would be fun to hike a mile vertically in the shortest distance possible.

Enter Rocky Face Mountain. With a 500 yard spread of rock that hits the sweet spot between burning calves and needing a rope to get up! It’s the perfect location for a Vertical Mile Challenge.

It takes 8 loops around the 2.2 mile long trail to achieve the “vertical mile.” Here’s the best part, they have a sign in sheet and after you finish the loop 8 times you get a free t-shirt! Now I don’t know about you but nothing motivates me like a challenge and a free t-shirt.

All of Jordan’s shirts are either free or from Goodwill so he was 100% on board for a free shirt.

Most parks and hiking trails we’ve been to look like they’ve been slightly neglected or about to be overrun by nature, but here is a park that embraces the great outdoors and gives our technology-addled minds an incentive to get some fresh air and start adventuring. I believe more parks should embody this mindset.

Along with the Vertical Mile Challenge, Rocky Face also has monthly social media photo competitions, a large shady pavilion with picnic tables, and a killer playground (yes we did quality check the slide).

Although it took us 3 attempts to get going on the right trail (even after consulting the map, written directions and asking fellow hikers) I believe that was more due to user error than poor trail markings. My only complaint is that we only made it around the loop twice so we are still 6 loops away from free t-shirts. If you are looking for a clean, fun, and challenging hike look no further than Rocky Face Mountain!