HYOH 2017
2016 AT registration
HFMH Donates $11,250 to ATC
2016 Top Hiker Gear Package
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2015 PCTA donation slide
On The Trail

PCT Thru Hikers Can Register Now


Rugged. Breathtaking. Grueling. Magical. These are the words many Pacific Crest Trail thru hikers use to describe their experiences of the 2,600+ mile National Scenic Trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada. With the popularity of Cheryl Strayer’s “Wild,” more and more people are planning to backpack and thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail in 2016. If you are one of these hearty souls…


Your Appalachian Trail Thru Hike – Make It Count

Joe O'Donnell with his girlfriend Francis Rick

So far, more than 120 Appalachian Trail hikers have raised a total of nearly $50,000 for mental health research, programs to overcome the stigma of mental illness and trail conservancy. With Robert Redford and Nick Nolte taking “A Walk in the Woods” on the big screen, there are sure to be more hikers following the white blazes than ever before. Whether going NoBo, Sobo, flip-flopping or creating their own way to complete the 2,185 mile footpath from Georgia to Maine, these thru hikers who register with HIKE for Mental Health have one thing in common: a desire to do some good for others along the way.


Team Ohio Raises $685 in First Hike


Volunteer hike organizer “Medic Mike” Wood and Team Ohio raised almost $700 in their first HIKE for Mental Health in Ohio this month. Despite a drizzly day and temperatures in the 40’s, Team Ohio persevered with their Fernwood State Forest hike, joined by trinity chapter of Mike’s family, the state forest manager and his wife. Mike shared after the hike, “It was a fun time, with a lot of talk about mental health issues. All in all, a great day.” Thanks to Mike, the hikers and all your sponsors for making our first Team Ohio hike a success.


2016 Bear Mountain Hike Fosters Friendships, Fun, & Funds


More than 30 hikers, ranging in age from 10 to 80, joined our Bear Mountain Hike to Oktoberfest this year in the beautiful Hudson River Valley of New York. By the time all 33 reached the summit, we had forged new friendships, renewed older ones, and shared the camaraderie that comes from reaching the top together. The Oktoberfest celebration at the bottom was the icing on the cake. We all hike for our own reasons, but on this day we shared some common reasons – to enjoy the beauty of the Trail, to honor those living with mental illness, and to raise money to fund HIKE for Mental Health operations. Want to know how much we raised?


HIKE for Mental Health Presents A Big Check to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy


During the opening program of the 35th Gathering of the Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association (ALDHA), we presented the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) with a check, a big check. In presenting it, Leo Walker thanked the 212 long-distance hikers who registered their hikes with HIKE for Mental Health since 2012. “Because of you and the people who donated in honor of your hikes, we are able to present this gift tonight.” Want to know how big the check was?


Another Magical Sunfish Pond Hike


Not discouraged by threatening weather, ten hardy hikers, led by hiking enthusiasts and volunteer hike organizers Wendy Summa and Pat Horsch, set off in the fog for Sunfish Pond on October 1, 2016, on a mission to represent HIKE for Mental Health. But why did they find Snickers bars scattered along the trail?


Ohio, here is your HIKE for Mental Health!


Beautiful Fernwood State Forest near Bloomingdale, Ohio, is the setting for our newest HIKE for Mental Health. Join us for this easy 3 mile loop hike with spectacular scenic views of the surrounding countryside amidst the colors and forest fragrances of fall. Come on, Ohio, here is your chance to join us!


Painting Mt. Washington Orange

Mt Washington group photo 2016

At some point over last weekend, one hiker said to another, “I have severe depression, I’m so glad I can verbalize it here. It is not something I walk around the office saying.” Wow! One conversation at a time, one step at a time, we are doing our part to eliminate the stigma of mental illness. Click here to read more about our Fifth Annual Summit Mt. Washington hike for mental health and the dozens of hikers from eight states who turned out for our popular 10-mile round-trip hike in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.


ZPacks Returns as HIKE for Mental Health Gear Sponsor


For the second year in row, ZPacks will contribute a custom-made ultralight Arc Blast Backpack to our top hiker prize package. All ZPacks packs are custom made-to-order, so the lucky winner will be able to specify the volume, color, torso height and belt length for his or her new ultralight backpack, valued at $325. Thank you to Joe Valesko and ZPacks for providing the perfect home for our top hiker prize package, a $1,200 collection of top-quality hiking and backpacking gear from leading brands that will be awarded to our top fundraising hiker in 2016.


Hike with Maria in Puerto Rican rainforest


Join hike organizer Maria and her husband Ethan on our first HIKE for Mental Health in Puerto Rico! El Yunque Trail includes an amazing variety of plant and animal life with grand views from a mountaintop observation tower in El Yunque National Forest. So who wants help stamp out the stigma of mental illness in Puerto Rico?


HIKE for Mental Health Sleeps Well with Sierra Designs

Sierra Designs logo

Sometimes a sleeping bag that is too warm is just as bad as one that isn’t warm enough. Who wants to be sweaty and sticky all night after a long day of hiking? For much of the summer in the US, a two-season bag is the right answer for maximum comfort with minimal weight. For that reason, we are happy to announce the addition of Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 2-Season Sleeping Bag to this year’s Top Hiker Gear Package.


HIKE for Mental Health Hangs with Hennessy Hammock


Sleeping in a hammock has some definite advantages over sleeping in a tent. The ability to pitch camp just about anywhere below treeline gives you tremendous freedom to choose your hiking distance each day and avoid crowds when you want a little privacy. In areas with hard-packed terrain, hammocks can be more comfortable. And more cozy in the rain, floating above the puddles and mud. For all these reasons, we are honored to welcome Hennessy Hammock as a new sponsor of our Top Hiker Gear Package for 2016.


Welcome New Gear Sponsor SealSkinz


On my 2015 AT thru hike, it rained. A lot. “No Pain, No Rain, No Maine” – right? Since I completed my thru hike, I have come across a handful of items I wish I had known about while on the trail. The SealSkinz Ultra Grip Gloves are one of those items. And we are thrilled to welcome SealSkinz as a new addition to our top hiker gear package for 2016.


Experience Sunfish Pond in Autumn with Wendy, Pat and Susan


Wendy and Pat are back again this year to lead our hike from Delaware Water Gap to Sunfish Pond along the PA/NJ border. Also returning will be Susan Letcher of the Barefoot Sisters to do a reading from the account of their well-known barefoot hike from Georgia to Maine, Barefoot Sisters Southbound. Join us for this autumn hike to the southern-most glacial pond on the Appalachian Trail.


Glorious Views on Mt. Eisenhower Hike


Thanks to volunteer hike organizer Adam Leiser, the hikers and their supporters for a successful hike to the summit of Mt. Eisenhower in New Hampshire in June. The hikers’ hard work on the climb was rewarded with beautiful scenery and panoramic views of the Presidential Range. Click to see more pictures from the hike and learn how much they raised for mental health research and trail conservation.


Sign up now for our 5th Annual Mt. Washington hike

Summit Mt. Washington

Bask in breath-taking views of the Presidential Range. Ascent through forest, scrub, and tundra to the highest peak in the northeast. Hike above tree-line and into the clouds. Starting early in the morning, we will hike to the summit of Mt. Washington, enjoying spectacular views of the Presidential Range along the way. This hike is extremely strenuous, five miles of nearly constant uphill hiking. And worth every step! Check it out!


Lightheart Gear Doubles Down on HIKE for Mental Health

lightheart- gear-logo

Once again, HIKE for Mental Health is grateful to Judy HeartFire Gross from LightHeart Gear for her donation of Hoodie Pack Covers to our 2016 prize package, and this year Judy has doubled down by offering two hoodie packs to our winner. And she updated the design with new colors and a new style for 2016! Last year, I won the awesome blaze orange (my favorite color!) Hoodie Pack Cover, an ingenious creation that comfortably covers your head and entire backpack. While I made a point to avoid rain for a while after finishing my very rainy 2015 AT thru-hike, I now look forward to hiking in the rain this spring and summer, protected by the hoodie pack cover. How can you win this year?


Bear Mountain Oktoberfest hike slated for October 16


Is there a better reward for the hard work of hiking up and over a mountain than finding an Oktoberfest celebration awaiting you on the other side? If you are anywhere in the vicinity of Bear Mountain, NY, come help us find out On October 16. For more details…


Leki extends support of HIKE for Mental Health


Thank you, Leki! Leki has returned this year as a sponsor and generously donated a pair of Corklite trekking poles ($139.95 retail value) to our 2016 top hiker prize package. We will present the registered hiker who raises the most from his/her fundraising page by November 30, 2016, with more than $1,200 worth of top-quality hiking gear, including these great trekking poles from Leki. Learn more about these trekking poles and the contest…


Guess who will join HIKE for Mental Health at Trail Days?

Walking North cover 08-17-2015

In 1973 a husband and wife along with their ten year old daughter Kyra decided to thru hike the Appalachian Trail. When they were done, the father, Mic, wrote a book about their adventure. He self-published in hard cover about 30 or so copies. Most copies he gave away to friends and family, but he set aside five copies as loaners for anyone who wanted to read them. I remember hearing this story but thought it was just folk lore. Until four years ago…


Vasque Steps Up Again for HIKE for Mental Health

Joe and Francis chilling in their Vasque boots

We are excited that Vasque has stepped up again to contribute to our 2016 top hiker prize gear package. Last year, I was that lucky winner, and I absolutely love my Vasques. There are 5 pairs of Vasque boots in my apartment. My partner has a pair of Pow Pow II boots for winter, and two pairs of the women’s Breeze 2.0–one mid, one low. I have the men’s Breeze 2.0 low (one of the most comfortable hiking shoes I’ve ever worn, which I’ve taken out on trails but also wear as an everyday shoe) and the Inhaler low, which weighs practically nothing, is highly breathable (true to its name), and has a grippy and rugged Vibram/Megagrip outsole. You can find out much more about specific models and their features on the Vasque website, and I encourage you to stop by an outfitter and give a pair of Vasque a try.


Summit New Hampshire’s 4,000 ft Mt. Eisenhower in July With Us


Join us on July 1, 2016 for a 6.6 mile hike to the summit of Mt. Eisenhower near Jefferson, New Hampshire. The hike will soar above treeline to 360 degree views of the Presidential Range of the White Mountains. Volunteer hike organizer Adam Leiser is an experienced hiker who has covered more than 200 miles of the Appalachian Trail including the eight highest mountains in New Hampshire and 14 other New Hampshire 4,000 footers. He organized this hike because “mental health is important to me. I know countless people who could benefit from a variety of services. This is a significant issue in our society today and I want to help in any way possible.”


Princeton Tec lights up the 2016 prize gear package!


Two indispensable pieces of gear from my 2015 AT thru-hike were my headlamp and sit pad (a small piece of foam that had been torn from a larger sleeping pad). This year, the lighting and seating bases are covered in our 2016 gear package prize! Check out these contributions by Byer of Maine and Princeton Tec!


Hike – or don’t hike – up Sunrise Mountain with Wendy and Pat


Pat Horsch and Wendy Summa are back with another great hike in the NY/NJ/PA area, and this one has options for everyone! If you want to challenge yourself, do the full 10 miles loop hike to Sunrise Mountain, near Branchville, NJ, on May 22. Not up for 10 miles but still want to stretch your legs? Drive up to Sunrise Mountain, join the group for lunch and hike the 5 mile back half of the loop. Don’t worry – we will get you back to your car after the hike. Or if you are not a hiker but still would like to be part of a HIKE for Mental Health event and help raise funds for mental health research and trail maintenance, join the group for lunch at the Sunrise Pavilion.


Top Hiker Gear Package Prize Rises to $1,200 for 2016


Spring is just around the corner, and many of our hikers are already out hiking trails or will be soon! We are excited to announce this year’s prize package, comprised of over $1,200 of top-of-the-line outdoor gear, which will be awarded to the hiker who raises the most money (for any registered HFMH hike) in 2016. Guess who this year’s sponsors are!


Please welcome Julie Baskerville, our newest volunteer!

Julie Baskerville

“I am very excited to be joining in volunteering with HIKE for Mental Health,” writes our newest volunteer Julie Baskerville. “I hope that my efforts will be a valuable asset for the organization! I can’t wait to get to know all you and work alongside you!” Julie is involved with a MI-based expedition team that does training in bush-craft, expedition, search and rescue and survival in extreme climates and conditions. Read more about Julie and how she will be helping us this year.


Join Us in the Catskills for a Half Marathon Trail Run


Join HIKE for Mental Health on June 4, 2016 for a half marathon trail run to celebrate the hamlet of Phoenicia, New York, and a beautiful new trail in the Catskills. “I chose the Phoenicia Ridge to Valley Trail Race because I have a passion for hiking and keeping the body in motion,” explains volunteer hike director Sheena Panoncillo. “This trail run not only brings awareness to the Catskills and Long Path, but also the trail conference and its volunteers. As a health care provider, I understand that mental health plays a significant role in complete wellness. I also have found refuge and mental peace in the woods, whether backpacking, hiking, or trail running. I would like to continue to encourage others to find that same peace that nature can provide.” Click for details.


2015 Disbursement To the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Sets New Record

2015 BBRF Check Presentation 800

At HIKE for Mental Health, we are incredibly honored and humbled to be part the amazing work of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Since we presented our first check in 2012 for about $6,200, the amount has risen each year. The lifetime total is now more than 20 times the amount of that original check. Click here to see the amount of this year’s check and to read the response from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation’s president.


A heart-felt thank you


“Since receiving your funds, we’ve had confirmation of yet another veteran suicide in our community, and this time it is hitting close to home. The young man connected to [a member of Counseling Connections for Change] related, ‘I’ve now had more of my platoon die due to suicide than the actual war.'”


HIKE for Mental Health presents $7,000 to PCTA


On Friday, Leo presented the Pacific Crest Trail Association with a check for $7,000 at their headquarters in Sacramento, CA. Receiving the check for the PCTA were Director of Philanthropy Angie Williamson and Trail Information Specialist Jack Haskel. The distribution brings the 2 year total received by the PCTA to $12,500. Angie expressed her gratitude for the contribution and thanked “all the hikers, sponsors and volunteers at HIKE for Mental Health.”


Veterans Day Walk Funds Presented to Pearland Groups


This week, we completed the distribution of the net proceeds from the Pearland Veterans Day Walk by presenting checks to two local Pearland, TX, organizations. VFW Post 7109 received a total of $2,130 to support their efforts to become a more integral part of the Pearland community. We also presented $1,600 to Dawn Lawless and the team at Counseling Connections for Change to continue their community educations programs.


Army Medical Center Receives Materials from Pearland Veterans Day Walk


From staff at William Beaumont Army Medical Center: Some more packages arrived and I am sending you a photo of active duty staff that I am honored to work with. The ward is a locked unit for inpatient care to provide safety and structure for warriors in behavioral health crisis. All your donations help us to serve them. We would not have those therapeutic books to offer if it was not for you and your volunteers.Thank you so much!


And the winner is….

Joe O'Donnell with his girlfriend Francis Rick

Who is the winner of our 2015 Top Hiker Gear Package? Thanks to the generosity of Leki, Lightheart Gear, ZPacks, Kelty, Point6, Princeton Tec, and Vasque Shoes, the hiker with the highest fundraising total as of November 30 will receive more than $1,000 of top-name gear. Click to see who won this year’s prize.


Pearland Walk Honors Veterans

JROTC Color guard

Braving the threat of heavy rain. nearly 100 men, women and children came out on November 7 for the 2nd Annual Pearland Veterans Day Walk in Pearland, TX. Officials from the State of Texas, Brazoria County, and the City of Pearland were among those on hand to honor our veterans and raise money for veterans programs. Read more to see who turned out and how much was raised from the event.


Another Glorious Sunfish Pond Hike!


“I am still basking in the positive energy that came from this hike!” So said one of the hikers days after the 2015 Sunfish Pond HIKE for Mental Heath. More than a dozen hikers joined volunteer hike organizers Pat Horsch and Wendy Summa for last Sunday’s final hike of our 2015 season, and Sunfish Pond in New Jersey was again the setting for a special HIKE for Mental Health experience. On the beautiful sun-filled day, Pat and Wendy welcomed the group and then began the hike from the Kittatinny Visitors Center…


60 turn out for Lula Lake hike


On a beautiful day in October, 60 people met at Lula Lake Land Trust in north Georgia near Chattanooga, TN, for a HIKE for Mental Health. Volunteer hike organizers Emily Ellis and Cassidy Wolfe led a terrific hike. The trail had a few uphill spots but led to some beautiful bluff views! “The hike ended by a gorgeous 80 ft. waterfall,” says Emily, “where we stopped to take a group picture! It was so great getting to meet everyone and hearing how mental health or hiking had impacted their lives!”


Sam’s Point Shows The Reason We Hike


“Right before the weekend a work colleague of mine lost a relative to depression/suicide,” write hike organizer Karen Viola. “And the day after the hike, an email came through with the news that one of my own relatives, a young student, was in the hospital. To keep her safe. Because of severe, treatment-resistant mental illness. Needless to say my feelings were all over the place as I browsed through all the glorious, colorful, joy-filled hike photos. But there we all were waving our orange bandanas… and the reason why is as crystal-clear as that day we had at Sam’s point.”


Great Pictures from 2015 Bear Mountain Hike to Oktoberfest


Thanks to everyone who made the 2015 Bear Mountain Hike to Oktoberfest a fantastic success. Hike organizers Donna Chapman and Martin Hunley did a terrific job as usual. And as usual, they captured a bushel of great photographs on the hike over Bear Mountain, NY, and down to the Bear Mountain Oktoberfest celebration. Check them out!


Oklahoma and Texas team up on a great hike


More than 60 participants gathered at Eisenhower State Park on the Texas-Oklahoma border on last Saturday for our first north Texas HIKE for Mental Health. Organized by Candice Stone, the hikers raised more than $3,000 for mental health research and trail conservancy! Guess what animal made its first appearance on a HIKE for Mental Health.


Explore Sunfish Pond with Wendy and Pat


Thanks to volunteer hike organizers Wendy Summa and Pat Horsch, there is one more chance to join a HIKE for Mental Health this year near the Pennsylvania/New Jersey border. And it is a beautiful 9-10 mile fall hike from outside Delaware Water Gap to gorgeous Sunfish Pond on November 8, 2015. The hike features a gradual 1000′ vertical ascent to spectacular views from the ridgeline before reaching the southern-most glacial pond on the Appalachian Trail. Join us!


Bag 2 Vermont peaks on one hike!


Does it get any better than hiking up the summits of Pico and Killington Peaks in the fall? How about hiking along the oldest long trail in the US? How about visiting the highest shelter on the Long Trail? Join Zach Cavacas on October 3 and you can do all these things in one day.


Announcing our 2nd Annual Bear Mountain Oktoberfest Hike


Join us for our Second Annual Bear Mountain Oktoberfest Hike with dramatic views of the Hudson River Valley and Bear Mountain Bridge, an amazing climb on hand-hewn granite steps, and brats, sauerkraut, alp-horns, polka music, and more at the end! These are just a few of the attractions of the three-hour Bear Mountain Oktoberfest hike near Highland Falls, NY.


Lookout Mountain, Here We Come!


Join us as HIKE for Mental Health comes to beautiful Lookout Mountain, GA, for a 2.5 mile hike on October 18, thanks to new volunteer hike organizers Cassidy Wolfe and Emily Ellis. Just minutes from Chattanooga, TN, the hike in the Lulu Lake Land Trust features two waterfalls, a serene chestnut tree preserve, and the views from the bluff of Lookout Mountain. Read more about why Emily and Cassidy chose the Land Trust for this hike.


Stunning Views on 4th Annual Mt. Washington Hike


Gorgeous weather and stunning views greeted our 4th Annual Summit Mt. Washington hikers on August 22 in New Hampshire. More than 50 hikers of all ages made the 5.2 mile ascent on the Jewell Trail to the summit of the highest peak in the northeastern US. How amazing was this year’s Summit Mt. Washington hike?


Psych: Vermont has been one of my favorite states

At the MA-VT border sign

Read another trail update from Joe “Psych” O’Donnell: Vermont has been one of my favorite states on the trail so far for a number of reasons. First, the Green Mountains are beautiful–challenging to hike but rewarding to summit and enjoy the views. Second, continuously hiking the AT through VT…


Prince George Citizen highlights 2016 hiker Leland McKeeman

Leland McKeeman

“The issue of mental health is of personal importance to me, it having affected my life and my family’s life,” said Leland McKeeman, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 19 and has struggled with both extreme fluctuations in mood as well as depression in his younger years. “It’s always been a dream of mine to finish the trail. I figured while pursuing this goal and dream of mine to give back to others.”


Psych Hikes to New England

JOD 03

Joe “Psych” O’Donnell shares another update from the trail. See why he says that the last 400 miles have been among the most challenging so far on the AT.


Hike with artist-hiker in the ‘Gunks


Ice caves, rare northern pine barrens, a 187 ft waterfall, and Lake Maratanza are just some of the amazing features awaiting hikers on our October 11 HIKE for Mental Health in Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Cragsmoor, NY. Hiking to beautiful vistas in upstate New York in the fall – how much better can it get! Join us!


Artist-hiker shares her talents with HIKE for Mental Health


Last October, Karen Viola marked her 50th birthday with a 50 mile hike on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, raising more than $3,000 for HIKE for Mental Health. A talented artist, she is now offering three beautiful note card designs, with the proceeds to benefit HIKE for Mental Health. The 5″ x 7″ note cards are printed on 100% recycled paper, and shipping is free. Check them out.


Team California Comes Through Again!


For the second year in a row, Team California has knocked it out of the park, putting on another great hike in Placerita Canyon and raising more than $3,700 over two years! 80% of the funds raised will support programs to alleviate suffering from mental illness, and the remaining 20% will be split between the Placerita Canyon Nature Center and the Community Hiking Club for their work on Dagger Flats. Check out the photo gallery!


Kentucky hike celebrates life and raises $1,000


The first annual Scott Haders Memorial Hike was a tremendous success! “It was a blast,” said co-organizer Rich Scanlon, “We are already planning for next year as attendees are requesting a date.” The event, which included a hike up to Natural Bridge, a BBQ and overnight camping at Middle Fork Campground, raised more than $1,070 for HIKE for Mental Health, NAMI Northern Kentucky, and the Sheltowee Trace Association.


No More Night Hiking

Clear summit

Read the latest trail update from AT hiker Joe “Psych” O’Donnell: The theme of this past week has been rain. And just when you think it can’t rain any more or any harder, the Appalachian Trail surprises you with just that. I was foolish enough to go night hiking


Nancy Kozanecki Named “Community Champion”


HIKE for Mental Health co-founder and board member Nancy Kozanecki was recently honored for her extensive volunteerism in the Pearland, Texas, community. Read on to see why the award citation says that “Pearland is a much better place to live due to the time, effort and charitable heart of Nancy Kozanecki.”


Thank you, Neil, for giving us A Taste For The Woods


“I was reminded why my website exists, and what its role should be, last week,” writes Neil Brennen about the Pole Steeple hike he led for HIKE for Mental Health. Please check it out and see how he lives in word and deed his message that “the outdoors is for everyone.”


Laura to Lead Placerita Canyon Hike Again

Laura to lead hike 2015

After a tremendously fun and successful hike last year, Laura Skorich will again lead a hike in Placerita Canyon near Santa Clarita, CA, again this year. To see amazing pictures of the hike and get more details, click here.


Psych hikes to Hot Springs


“I’m absolutely loving it out here. The mountains, the trees and flowers, birds and other wildlife, the people, and the general serenity of being outdoors and keeping moving. I wish you all could be out here to experience this with me, but know that I’m carrying you all in my heart, and your words of encouragement and support help keep me going!”


Thanks from the Dayton VA Medical Center

Dayton VA Medical Center Thank You Letter April 2015

We want to pass along this letter of thanks from the Dayton VA Medical Center. The veterans they serve were recipients of some of the books collected from the Pearland, TX, book drive this year. The book drive was an extension of our Pearland Veterans Walk for PTSD Awareness. We shipped out 800 used paperback books to veterans as well as to active duty service men and women and their families.


Announcing our $50k in ’15 Program


Last year, we were blessed with a record number of hikes, hikers, hike leaders, and funds to support mental health research and trail preservation. This year, we need just a few more inspired hike leaders to help us get to our $50,000 goal in total fundraising from our day hikes. We call it our $50k in ’15 program because we targeting $50,000 raised from our organized day hikes in 2015.


Join us at Natural Bridge State Park in Slade, KY on June 6

Natural Bridge

Visit Natural Bridge in Slade, KY, a top attraction in the beautiful Red River Gorge region. Take in Balanced Rock and climb 600 stairs to beautiful ridge-line views. These are just a few of the attractions of the three-hour Scott Haders Memorial Hike in Natural Bridge State Park.


Neil Brennen to lead 2015 Pole Steeple hike


We are honored that Neil Brennen from “A Taste for the Woods” will return to lead our Pole Steeple hike again this year. Neil is a great advocate for the message that “the outdoors is for everyone.” This gorgeous hike near Gardners, PA, features some of the most dramatic views in Pennsylvania. Click for details and registration.


2016 Top Hikers


The hiker who raises the most from a 2015 hike will receive a prize package of brand-new, top-quality gear donated by generous supporters at Leki, Kelty, Vasque, Lightheart Gear, Point6, Princeton Tec and ZPacks. Click to see the leaderboard.


ZPacks Ultralight Backpack Rounds Out 2015 Hiker Prize Package


We are proud to announce that ZPacks will contribute a custom-made ultralight Arc Blast Backpack to our 2015 top hiker prize package. The lucky winner will be able to specify the volume, color, torso height and belt length for this great made-to-order backpack. If you want a testament to the quality of ZPacks, look no further than our own Tom Kennedy who traveled in style with his ZPacks backpack this year on his 900+ mile grand adventure on the Florida Trail this winter…


Princeton Tec and Point6 add to Top Hiker Prize Package


We are pleased to announce two more contributors to our 2015 top hiker prize package, Point6 and Princeton Tec. Princeton Tec has donated a Remix headlamp. And Point6 contributed two pairs of colorful, comfortable Merino wool socks. We are grateful to both Point6 and Princeton Tec for their support with our 2015 top hiker prize package, a collection of more than $1,100 worth of brand-new, top-quality gear will go to our top fundraising hiker in 2015.


Appreciation from Veterans

As an extension of our Pearland Veterans Walk for PTSD Awareness, we collected used paperback books in January and February in the Pearland, TX, area to send … Read more…

Vasque Laces Up for HIKE for Mental Health


We are proud to announce that Vasque is the latest to donate to our 2015 top hiker prize package. Vasque is a a leader in performance footwear for trail running, backpacking, and hiking in any season. Vasque has generously donated a gift card good for any pair of boots or shoes that they make. That’s right – the lucky winner will be able to pick out a brand new pair of Vasque boots or shoes in his or her own style and size!


LightHeart Gear “Covers” HIKE for Mental Health

LightHeart Gear hoodie pack cover

HIKE for Mental Health is grateful to Judy Gross from LightHeart Gear for her donation of a Hoodie Pack Cover to our 2015 prize package. Valued at $50, the hoodie pack cover is another of Judy’s remarkable creations that combine her love for hiking and her amazing pattern making and design skills. JWe are honored to include her craftsmanship in our 2015 top hiker prize package consisting of more than $1,100 worth of brand-new, top-quality gear that will go to our top fundraising hiker in 2015.


PCTA recognizes HIKE for Mental Health


We wish to thank the Pacific Crest Trail Organization for listing HIKE for Mental Health among its major sponsors, alongside Leki, North Face, Gregory, and other great outdoor companies. As a small, all-volunteer non-profit organization, we are honored to be listed in such great company. With Cheryl Strayed’s movie Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon, in theaters now, the load on the PCT is expected to be at record levels. We are grateful to be able to provide the PCTA with resources to help them preserve and manage that breath-taking treasure this year.


Register for our 4th Annual Summit Mt. Washington

On the summit!

Bask in breath-taking views of the Presidential Range. Ascent through forest, scrub, and tundra to the highest peak in the northeast. Hike above tree-line and into the clouds. Starting early in the morning, we will hike to the summit of Mt. Washington, enjoying spectacular views of the Presidential Range along the way. This hike is extremely strenuous, five miles of nearly constant uphill hiking. And worth every step!


Leki joins HIKE for Mental Health

LEKI Logo copy

Leki has generously donated a pair of Micro Vario Carbon trekking poles ($199.95 retail value) to our 2015 top hiker prize package. We will present the registered hiker who raises the most from his/her fundraising page by November 30, 2015, with more than $1,000 worth of top-quality hiking gear, including these great trekking pole from Leki.


$1,000 in Free Gear to our Top Hiker in 2015


We have a satchel full of exciting new announcements for 2015, and here is the first… We will award our top fundraising hiker of 2015 a collection of brand-new top-name gear worth more than $1,100. We are not talking about used equipment, factory seconds, or last year’s models. Thanks to the generosity of our equipment sponsors, we are talking items such as tents, backpacks, trekking poles and other great gear from top brands in hiking and backpacking. Learn more…


HIKE for Mental Health collects books for vets in TX


Building on the success of our Veterans Day Walk for PTSD Awareness in Pearland, TX, HIKE for Mental Health is partnering with Operation Paperback on another local Texas event. Operation Paperback is a non-profit that collects gently used books for American troops overseas as well as for veterans and military families here at home. Operation Paperback volunteers have shipped more than 1.9 million books to locations around the globe. More than 5,000 books have been collected in Pearland and Friendswood since 2012.


Texas Walk for PTSD Awareness Raises $5,400 for Veterans

VA staff receive donations from HIKE for Mental Health.

HIKE for Mental Health is proud to award more than $5,400 to Texas veterans groups from its 2014 Veterans Day Walk for PTSD Awareness in Pearland, TX. We presented more than $2,400 in workbooks and treatment materials to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, and we awarded $3,000 to Pearland VFW Post 7109 to increase services.


4 Free Ways to Help Us Over the Holidays


We founded HIKE for Mental Health on the idea of doing something good for others (those suffering from major mental illness) while doing something we love to do (hiking). During the holiday season, you can do some good for others while doing your holiday shopping. And it won’t cost you an extra penny. Click to see how.


And the 2014 Winner Is…

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.—A West Michigan man is planning a five-month wilderness trek from Mexico to Canada in an effort to honor his late brother and raise money for those suffering from mental illness.

“In 2012 I lost my little brother Logan in a car accident. Ever since that moment I have been searching for something constructive to pull out of this tragedy.” This year’s top fundraising hiker – and winner of the Paramount Sleep queen mattress set, will hike the PCT in 2015 for a reason that will warm your heart for the holidays.


Illinois hike raises $1,200


On October 11, volunteer hike organizer Josh McLaughlin led our first-ever HIKE for Mental Health in Illinois. Along with his Matthiessen State Park hikers and all their supporters, he raised $1,200 for mental health research and trail preservation with his Matthiessen State Park hike.


Hooray for Sunfish Pond Hikers

Susan signing her books for one lucky hiker.

On a clear autumn day, 17 hikers came from as far away as Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina to hike with Susan “jackrabbit” Letcher. As usual, Susan hiked barefoot and paused to read a passage from Southbound on a rest break near the pond. The hike, however, was not a revisiting of the past but a celebration of a glorious fall day, a great HIKE for Mental Health, a time to meet new friends in a gorgeous, natural setting, and a statement that we will overcome the stigma associated with mental illness.


Colorado Springs Rocks Red Rock Hike


More than 30 hikers, some as young as 2 years old, came out for the first annual Red Rocks HIKE for Mental Health near Colorado Springs, CO, last weekend. And before the hike was even over, co-organizer Dixie Snyder texted us, “Sign us up for next year! Our people want to do it again! Amazing time! …Next year we all agreed that we’re going to wait till Casey (“Aquaman” Owen) gets back to do the hike again. So October, I’ll make sure to bring hot chocolate…. Casey did a great job! This was a great, fun, easy-going experience that wouldn’t of happen without him & all of your support! Thank you!


Photos from Bear Mountain Hike to Oktoberfest 2014


What a fantastic time on this year’s Bear Mountain hike!. It was a great day for hiking, with beautiful panoramic views of the Hudson Valley. Some hikers brought attention to the event by dying their hair orange and punking themselves out on the trail. And at the end of the hike, there was the Oktoberfest celebration, where HIKE for Mental Health led the dance floor, joined by some AT SOBO hikers and others at the celebration. And of course there was Doug in his full Bavarian outfit, complete with lederhosen.


HIKE for Mental Health comes to Illinois


“I am an avid hiker, and I love the trails and scenery at Matthiessen State Park,” says hike organizer Josh McLaughlin. His October 11 hike in the Dells area of Matthiessen State Park makes Illinois the latest state in our Fourteen in ’14 program. Josh is the nephew of HIKE for Mental Health Director of Hiker Registration Diana Pease, and he credits her for his inspiration. This hike includes amazing waterfalls, sandstone canyons, and lush forest. Join us!


Thin Mint Summits!

Thin Mint Summits!

The entire HIKE for Mental Health family congratulates Glenn “Thin Mint” Gordon. Today he summited Katahdin, completing his 2014 Appalachian Trail thru hike. We saw him off at AT Kick-off in Georgia in March, and now he has completed his 2,000+ mile journey. We are honored that Glenn included HIKE for Mental Health as part of his adventure. He raised more than $1,500 to alleviate the suffering of mental illness and preserve hiking trails. Thank you, Glenn, and congratulations!


Colorado Joins 14 in ’14 Program with Red Rocks Hike


Colorado becomes joins the 14 in ’14 program, thanks to 2013 Appalachian Trail thru hiker and volunteer hike organizer Casey Owen. He and Dixie Snyder from IREM’s Young Professionals Group will lead a day hike at Red Rock Canyon near Colorado Springs, CO, on September 20.


A Queen Mattress Set, Delivered to our Top Fundraiser

A Queen Mattress Set to our Top Fundraiser

You just finished your five- or ten- or 2,000-mile hike. You drop your pack and slump into a chair for your celebratory meal. And after you have gorged yourself to replenish the calories you lost on the trail, all you want is to lie down and sleep. Thanks to Paramount Sleep and HIKE for Mental Health, you could be sleeping on one of the most comfortable mattresses in the world…


Pole Steeple Post-Hike Update


Volunteer hike organizer Neil Brennan led our first HIKE for Mental Health to Pole Steeple last weekend. The hike raised $320 for HIKE For Mental Health and introduced some of the group to the beauty of a stretch of the AT and the great view from atop Pole Steeple.

Mental Health News

Emotional Disorders Share Disruptions to Brain’s White Matter, Imaging Reveals

Scott A. Langenecker, Ph.D.

Depression. PTSD. Social anxiety disorder. When trying to understand the unique symptoms you or a loved one are experiencing, you often focus on what distinguishes these labels. However, a recent meta-analysis took a different approach and instead looked for similarities between different mood disorders. Click to read more about how the grants HIKE for Mental Health helps to fund have allowed Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funded scientists to take a broader look at mental health and uncover a possible shared biological basis for mood disorders.

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Researchers Identify Gene Associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Alicia K. Smith, Ph.D.

The flashbacks, nightmares, and frightening thoughts that characterize Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder haunt some people who have endured trauma long after the threat of physical harm is gone. A recent study funded in part by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation has found that variations in our genes may play role in determining who develops PTSD after a traumatic event. Click to read more about how the research grants that HIKE for Mental Health helps to fund are leading to new insights into why PTSD tends to run in families.

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Work Productivity Is Valuable Factor in Predicting Treatment Success in Depression

Madhukar H. Trivedi, M.D.

Does getting right back to work following an absence caused by depression indicate that treatment is going to work? Supported by grants HIKE for Mental Health helps to fund, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funded scientists have identified that work productivity helps distinguish patients whose treatment is working from those who may benefit from a different course of treatment. Click to read more about how work productivity following treatment for depression was associated with higher rates of symptom remission.

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Large-Scale Study Finds Association between Risk of Suicide and Hospitalization with Infection

Teodor T. Postolache, M.D.

There is likely no single cause to suicide, the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Both mental illness and environmental factors, such as access to firearms, have been previously linked to an increased risk of suicide. Biological factors have been the subject of far fewer investigations. Recently, however, a team of scientists supported by grants from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation identified a possible association between suicide and infections that may disrupt the brain’s normal function. Click to read about how 1 in 10 suicides could be linked to hospitalization with infection.

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New Clues About How the Brain Knows It’s Time to Stop Eating

Richard L. Huganir, Ph.D.

As we make our way through a meal, we may think that an urge loosen our belts a notch tells us it is time to put down the fork. In actuality, our stomach and intestines send signals about how full we are to the the brain’s hunger circuits. These signals may go awry in eating disorders and in mental illnesses such as depression. Click more to read about how one such signal, an enzyme called OGT, may help to adjust feelings of hunger and send the brain a signal that it is time to stop eating.

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Checklist Tool Helps Predict Relapse for Depressive Patients in Remission

Lewis L. Judd, M.D.

When preparing for surgery, surgeons rely on checklists to ensure they don’t skip simple steps like washing their hands. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funded scientists have developed a checklist that physicians can use to make sure they don’t forget to ask some basic questions about mental health to patients who have experienced depression. These simple questions may help identify patients who are at-risk for having their symptoms of depression return. Click to read about how the research that HIKE for Mental Health helps to fund has led to a twelve item checklist to help predict relapse.

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New Tool Calculates Patients’ Personal Psychosis Risk

Tyrone D. Cannon, Ph.D.

Fewer than 1 in 3 people whose symptoms indicate they have a high risk of developing schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders transition to full psychosis within 3 years. A new risk calculator may help clinicians determine the personal risk of psychosis for individuals in this high-risk group. Click to read about how a personal risk calculator created by a team of Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funded scientists may help clinicians who are working to develop effective interventions to prevent psychosis.

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Long-term Lithium Treatment May Prevent Shrinking of Hippocampus in Bipolar Disorder Patients


Many people wonder whether medications used to treat mental illnesses have long-lasting effects. A new study suggests a possible benefit from long-term lithium treatment in elderly people with bipolar disorder. Click to read more about how HIKE for Mental Health, through their donations to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, has supported this research on one of the brain’s key memory centers.

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New Imaging Approach Reveals Brain-wide Neural Activity in Mice

Catherine Dulac, Ph.D.

Imagine that you are about to cross a muddy stream when suddenly the water becomes crystal clear. A difficult task is now easier because you can see beneath the water’s surface. A technique called ClearMap works in a similar way, making a transparent mouse brain and providing a new way to see where brain cells have fired beneath the brain’s surface. Click to read about how our donations to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation have helped scientists develop ClearMap and learn more about how antipsychotic drugs work.

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Prenatal Nicotine Exposure Raised Odds of Schizophrenia in Children

Alan Stewart Brown, M.D., M.P.H.

Quitting smoking can be a serious challenge, but scientists funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation have found yet another reason to kick the smoking habit. A new study out of Finland suggests that prenatal exposure to nicotine can raise the odds that a child may develop schizophrenia later in life. Click to read more about the public health implications of the research grants that HIKE for Mental Health helps to fund.

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Exercise May Treat Cognitive Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder By Restoring Brain Activation Patterns

Dr. Benjamin I. Goldstein

Bipolar disorder, characterized by depression-like lows and “manic” highs, can also disrupt attention and decision-making. A new study funded by the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation provides clues as to how exercise impacts brain activity in young people with bipolar disorder. Click to read how the research grants we help to fund have found more about exercise’s beneficial effects.

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Welcome volunteer Kelly Barnes to HIKE for Mental Health!

jk4- copy

“As a cognitive neuroscientist, I am excited share with you many of the exciting research breakthroughs that scientists are making. These advances are at the forefront of a tremendous effort to understand mental illness and mental health. Scientists still have a long way to go, but these truly are amazing times to be studying the mind and brain!”

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Trek Toward Treatment


The May edition of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Quarterly publication contains a two-page feature on HIKE for Mental Health. Hooray! We are extremely honored to be connected with this fine organization that has lead the battle for better understanding of and treatments for mental illnesses for so many decades. Read more about our “Trek Toward Treatment.”

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William Beaumont Army Medical Center Recognizes HIKE for Mental Health


This week has been a fantastic one to visit the mailbox – see what arrived today! Thanks to all the sponsors, walkers, and donors to our Veterans Day Walk in Pearland, Texas, who made this possible. Our fantastic walk team is already gearing up for this year’s walk. If you are in the Pearland area and want to help out, please let me know.

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New Insight About Why Mild Stress Can Trigger Extreme Responses in PTSD and Other Disorders

Vaishali P. Bakshi, Ph.D.

Ever wonder why a car alarm or pop of a firework can go completely un-noticed by one person while sending the next person into a momentary panic? Researchers have uncovered new details about what happens in the brain when a mild source of stress generates an extreme response, disproportionate to the stress. Their findings identify possible targets for new medications to treat the debilitating stress responses that define post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other illnesses.

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A More Expansive View of Brain Circuits that Stop Inappropriate Behaviors

Shih-Chieh Lin, M.D., Ph.D.

Quickly halting an in-progress action that turns out to be inappropriate for a particular time and place relies on a cognitive function known as inhibitory control. In new experiments with rats, researchers have discovered a set of neurons at the base of the brain that are critical for this rapid behavioral stopping, demonstrating that inhibitory control involves a broader network of brain circuits than those previously identified.

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Exercise Treatment of Sleepiness in Depression Linked to Immune System Chemicals


Researchers have come one step closer to understanding the intricate relationship between sleep and depression. In a recent study involving people who suffer from atypical depression, researchers were able to correlate the effect exercise has on reducing hypersomnia to lowering levels of interleukin (IL-1β), an immune system chemical, and reductions in levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports neurons and aids the growth of new ones. While both these factors are generally linked to improved sleep, this new study suggests that in atypically depressed people, high levels of production of these chemicals may be disturbing sleep more than helping.

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