Hiking Medallions

Hiking medallions have been a long-standing tradition in Europe and have become increasingly popular in the United States. I have been hiking and backpacking for years. One year I was with my Boy Scout troop (I was the Scoutmaster) and I found a nice maple branch that had broken off of the tree. It was about the right length and relatively straight so I kept it to use as a hiking staff.  A few years later my wife, Pat, suggested that I might use it as a record of where I had hiked. It sounded like a good idea and I toyed with the idea of wood-burning the trail names and dates, but never pursued that thought.

In 2011, Pat and I became fulltime RVers. One of our first major stops was Acadia National Park in Maine. We had just finished hiking to the top of Cadillac Mountain and stopped to browse the Visitor Center. In the gift shop, we discovered our first hiking stick medallion – that started my new hobby! I still had my staff from that Scout camp, and my medallion from Cadillac Mountain was the first one to adorn it. A couple of years ago I retired that staff from active use. It had developed a crack at the bottom and I was afraid that it would split. My daughter blessed me with a pair of telescoping trekking poles that Christmas to replace it. It was a good thing because I was running out of room on my old staff – now I didn’t have to leave room at the top and bottom and I could continue to add to my collection.

In our travels, Pat and I have hiked all over the United States and other countries as well. I haven’t been able to find medallions for all of our hikes, but I have for most of them.

Most medallions are made from light metal that can be gently shaped by hand to fit on hiking staffs, paddles, or anything else you want to use. Because the medal is so light, I find where I want to place it on the staff and gently bend it, either with my hand or a pair of needle-nose pliers, to fit the shape of the staff. My staff is a natural branch so I occasionally run into small knots and I try to position the medallion to avoid those. The light medal allows me to bend it around the knot. Short brad style nails are normally included with the medallion. The brief instructions that accompany the medallion suggest pre-drilling the holes. I normally use a one-inch finishing nail as a pre-drilling tool. I tap the finishing nail in a small fraction of an inch to start the hole. Then I will hold the small brad in place with my needle-nose pliers and gently tap the brad completely into the wood. Some of my more recent purchases have come with a glue backing. This is nice, but I prefer the security of nailing the medallion in place.

My staff is a nice conversation piece when we have friends visit. On occasion, I will just pick it up and use the medallions to spark pleasant memories of earlier hikes. Click on the individual pictures to get a closer look.

My staff now includes medallions from the following hikes:

  • Great Smokey Mountains, NC
  • Myrtle Beach State Park, SC
  • Philadelphia, PA (Independence Hall)
  • Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Multnomah Falls, OR
  • Mountains to Sea Trail, NC
  • Kenaj Fjords National Park, AK
  • Glacier National Park, MT
  • Denali National Park, AK
  • Sulfur Mountain Trail, Banff, Alberta, Canada
  • Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX
  • Petroglyph National Monument, NM
  • Everglades National Park, FL
  • New River Gorge National Park, WV
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
  • Haleakala National Park, HI
  • Kartchner Canyon Stare Park, AZ
  • Yosemite National Park, UT
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
  • North Country Scenic Trail, Upper Peninsula, MI
  • South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon, AZ
  • Acadia National Park, ME
  • Zion National Park, UT
  • Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
  • Tahquamenon Falls State Park, MI
  • Grand Tetons National Park, WY
  • Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, MI
  • Mesa Verde National Park, CO
  • Harny Peak Trail, SD
  • Death Valley National Park, NV
  • Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, KY-TN
  • Badlands National Park, SD
  • Yellowstone National Park, WY
  • Arches National Park, UT
  • Gorges State Park, NC
  • Mount Rainer National Park, WA
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
  • Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, WA
  • Franconia Notch State Park (Old Man of the Mountains), NH
  • Pinnacle Mountain State Park, AR
  • Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
  • Craters of the Moon National Park, ID
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area (The Blue Mesa), CO
  • Canyonlands National Park, UT
  • Olympic National Park, WA
  • Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND
  • Boston National Historical Park, MA
  • Cumberland Island National Seashore, GA
  • Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, AK
  • Hot Springs National Park, AR
  • Crater Lake National Park, OR
  • Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ

About Michigan Traveler

Bob and his wife, Pat, are fulltime RVers. They sold their home in Michigan in June, 2011 and now travel the country, living on the road. Home is Where You Park It!
This entry was posted in Fulltime RV, Michigan Traveler and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Hiking Medallions

  1. Ingrid says:

    Sounds like a great way to collect souvenirs and memories.

  2. Carolyn Dumas Martin says:

    Oh, I love this post and this medallion idea. I found a perfect walking stick on my travels recently and I have been trying to figure out what I needed to do with it. You have given me the perfect answer. Take care of you both, Carolyn

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