Who Is A Famous Hiker? | Hikers University

Some hikers want to challenge themselves, while others want to experience the thrill. Who is a famous hiker known for their adventures and trail exploits?

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, also known as the AT, is the equivalent of Mount Everest for hikers. The 2,181-mile trail runs from Georgia to Maine. While some hike the AT in portions over several years, thru-hikers seek to finish the path in a single season, which can take anywhere from five to seven months.

Heather Anderson is a famous thru-hiker. She goes by the trail name Anish, and has hiked the Pacific Crest, Continental Divide, and Appalachian trails in the United States three times. She wanted to set the speed record, walking 2,655 miles in 60 days, when she was seen on the Pacific Crest in 2013.

Some hikers look for a new challenge, while others look for a fresh start. Every trekker has left an indelible mark on the hiking culture and history for one reason or another, and Heather is one of them. The AT is the most well-known long-distance trail for hiking in the world, and Heather Anderson, a famous hiker, is known for her inspirational stories of accomplishment and fortitude.

Based on our extensive research and long interviews with hiking enthusiasts, Heather Anderson takes the prize for famous hikers around the world. Let’s dig a little deeper into Heather’s life and journey as a famous thru-hiker.

Table of contents


Who is a Famous Hiker?

Heather Anderson is one of the best female hikers and one of the quickest long-distance walkers on the trail. She holds the self-supported fastest known time (FKT) records for the AT and PCT records, the Arizona Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, as well as the Appalachian Trail.

In just eight months, she accomplished her second Triple Crown, covering a total distance of 8,000 kilometers. She is the sixth person to complete the hike in a single calendar year and the first woman to do it. National Geographic honors six "Adventurers of the Year" each year, each chosen for remarkable achievements in adventure, conservation, and exploration sports.

Heather Anderson, an Anderson University alumna, was named one of these six in 2019 for her hikes on some of the country's most iconic trails, including being the first woman to hike the Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and Appalachian Trail (all National Scenic Trails) in the same year. She hiked each of the three trails three times, for a total of 28,000 trail miles between 2013 and 2019. To say the least, she is a genuine hiker.

"Being chosen Adventurer of the Year was a complete surprise," Anderson stated. "I believe this is my calling; thus, my adventures and trips are fueled by that notion."

Anderson developed her passion for travel as an AU student through the university's Tri-S (Study, Serve, Share) programs that paved the way for new adventures, deepened her love for the outdoors, and broadened her worldview.

Her Work

Anderson had hoped to get ordained and work as a missionary around the world when she was younger. Despite the fact that her life has gone a different path after graduation, she has accomplished many of her other ambitions, including presenting her deeply held tenets as an author and a professional speaker, hiking the Appalachian Trail, and becoming an author.

Anderson has written the following books:

  • Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home, her first book, describes the chronicles of her Pacific Crest Trail records that came out in 2019.
  • Mud, Rocks, Blazes: Letting Go on the Appalachian Trail, her second book, was published in early 2021, in which she talks about her struggles and race on the trail.
  • Her next book, a Guide to Long-Distance Backpacking and Adventure Ready will be out in June 2022.

Anish – The Famous Thru-Hiker

Anderson continues to follow her passion, despite the fact that it is completely different from what she envisioned as a student. Despite this, she believes AU helped her to fly, adding that her extracurricular activities and academic writing courses prepared her to become a traditionally published novelist.

During an interview, Anderson once said, "the lessons learned in a well-lived life may fill a book or two!" She also advises anyone interested in or new to outdoor adventure to start and ask a lot of questions. Her ambition is to continue traveling while sharing her lessons and experiences acquired, including loving yourself and others, dwelling in the present moment, and accepting what cannot be altered.

Heather Anderson, the 2018 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year, hiked the all three National Scenic Trails in one season from March to November, making her the first woman Calendar Year Triple Crowner and the first female Triple Crowner.

She also owns the FKT 2013, also known as the Fastest Known Time 2013, on the Pacific Crest Trail, having hiked it in 60 days, 17 hours, and 12 minutes, breaking the preceding men's record by four days and being the first woman to do so. She also owns the female self-supported FKTs on the Appalachian Trail (2015) and the Arizona Trail (2016), which she finished in 19 days, 17 hours, 9 minutes.

Heather’s Accomplishments

Since 2003, she has trekked over 30,000 miles, including 14 thru-hikes:

  • 2003, 2015, and 2018: The Appalachian Trail
  • 2005, 2013, and 2018: The Pacific Crest Trail
  • 2006, 2017, and 2018: The Continental Divide Trail
  • 2005: The John Muir Trail
  • 2010: The Wonderland Trail
  • 2016: The Arizona Trail
  • 2017: The Oregon Desert Trail
  • 2019: The Bartram Trail

She is also an experienced peak-bagging enthusiast and mountaineer who has completed multiple ascent lists both in the United States and abroad. When she's not on a trip, Heather talks about her travels and the lessons she's gained on the trail on a regular basis. Heather "Anish" also believes in her spirituality while completing the trials. It takes more than just physical power to walk 8,000 miles on the trail in 251 days.

To achieve the kind of superhuman achievements on Anderson's resume, it demands high-powered attention only on what matters. In an age of bragging and brand development, it's also symptomatic of a top-tier athlete who avoids social media. You must live a life of moment-to-moment attention if you want to push the limits of endurance. Anderson has trekked 28,000 trail miles since 2013, which is more than the diameter of the Earth at the equator.

Her Journey

Anderson didn't start out with such lofty ambitions; she started out like most laid-back, enthusiastic trekkers. She had never been very sporty, but she liked the outdoors and began trekking in the Grand Canyon while working there. She had the time and no idea what she wanted in life when she graduated from Anderson University, just outside Indianapolis, in 2003, so she chose to hike the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.

She chose the name "Anish" as her trail name in honor of her great-great-grandmother, who was of Native American Anishinabe ancestry, and without realizing it, she was on her way to becoming one of the most famous thru-hikers in history. She didn't stop there, though. She became one of 400 persons to complete the Triple Crown of Hiking, in addition to the Appalachian. She then returned to normalcy, marrying and accepting a job in an office in Seattle. It was insufficient for her. She yearned for something different, for something deeper, for the trail.

She once explained that when you spend a lot of time in nature and in touch with yourself, you work through a lot of things. She needed to answer some personal questions, and the best way for her to accomplish that was to go on a long trek or run.

She divorced, abandoned her career, and went on a mission to find answers to those nagging inner concerns. Her statistics are astounding. She set the quickest known time on the PCT in 2013, despite having an unexplained ailment in her knee.

Her illness didn't seem to bother her. She broke the previous men's record by four days and became the first woman to hold the overall record. She broke the woman's self-supported speed record (successfully handled all food and logistics on her own with no help or crew) on the Appalachian Trail in 2015, blazing from Georgia to Maine's Mount Katahdin in just 54 days. She broke the record on the Arizona Trail the following year, covering 800 miles of mountains and desert in 19 days, 17 hours, and 9 minutes.

Last year, Anish made history by being the first woman and fifth person to run the Triple Crown (7,944 miles) in a calendar year. She accomplished the feat in remarkable ways, traveling more than 31 miles per day on average to complete the journey in 251 days, 20 hours, and 10 minutes. It was also her third time hiking all three trails, making her the only woman to do so.

All of this from a girl who was 70 pounds overweight as a child in Michigan and was frequently teased. The attraction of Anderson's accomplishments appeals to the idea that the most extraordinary people do not have to be those who earned varsity letters in high school. Determination is more important than natural talent. With little more than guts and humility, Anderson has set new trail records.

Will Harlan, the editor-in-chief of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, once remarked Anderson by saying that she isn't a physically gifted or super-talented athlete; any of us could follow in her footsteps—but none of us can because we're not as tough as she is. In 2008, she set the overall fastest time on the Appalachian Trail. Relatable and average record-setters like Heather are unfortunately never appreciated much.

Pharr Davis also praises Anderson's self-effacing, no-nonsense demeanor as a pioneering female force in a thru-hiking environment dominated by men. She has aided in the dismantling of gender stereotypes. Most people will never grasp what these records entail in terms of battling self-doubt and physical endurance, especially when you're the only woman in a pantheon of men.

However, anyone hoping for a specific workout routine or success secret from Anderson may be disappointed. Her determination to keep walking is the only thing that makes her tick. She does what she wants and sees where it leads, trying to be open-minded to all of life's turns and twists.

Whether Anderson, 36, is attempting another hiking record or writing her book, she maintains the same mentality. One of her books with the title "thirst" is both real and metaphorical because she was actually stuck without water on the Southern California desert stretches of the path in June.

She had a spiritual force that kept her going through her hiking adventures. She appears to be more willing to dive deeper into her psyche on the page than she does in conversations with reporters. When she sets out on the journey, she says she's scared but determined; however, she does end up yelling at a mountain lion when she gets face to face with the animals on the trail.

On certain days, heather feels terrified of a lot of things, such as the idea of sleeping alone in the woods seems unthinkable. She has had encounters with rattlesnakes, bobcats, wolves, grizzly bears, and has faced other dangerous situations, such as dehydration and advanced hypothermia. She explains that she routinely jeopardizes her romantic and financial security in order to live a life that John Muir would be proud of.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

Read More About Peter Brooks