Giant Master FAQs
We frequently receive questions about the Giant Master challenge, and have assembled this list of FAQs to help our prospective participants. If your question is not answered below, please reach out to the Giant Master Coordinator.
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Do I have to log each hike precisely as to date or is an approximation sufficient?
Each hike must be logged by date (month, day, and year). This will provide an accurate record of when you hiked any given trail or portion of it.
Do I need to include time of day or duration of hike?
No, providing time of day or duration of hike is not necessary. Only the date is required.
Do I need to hike trails in a prescribed order?
No, you can hike the trails in whatever order you prefer as long as you eventually complete all sections of all blazed trails in the park and fill in each section of the hiking log.
Do I need to complete a single trail at one time (e.g., finish the Green Trail at one time)
No, you can hike an entire blazed trail or just a portion of it on any given day. However, your log should eventually reflect the fact that all sections of every trail were completed.
Can I complete a portion of any given trail one day and then complete another portion of that trail a different day?
Yes, any given trail can be completed in sections as long as you eventually complete it all.
Do I need to have a witness or some other mechanism of proving that I did a particular hike?
No, the log that you submit is based strictly on the honor system. No attempt will be made to verify or dispute your log entries. That being said, however, one should always consider both the potential dangers of solo wilderness hiking (especially if you don’t own a cell phone) as well as the pleasures inherent in sharing your on-trail experiences with a companion.
Do people ever falsify log entries?
Undoubtedly yes. But the certificate and the patch are meant as tributes to a personal accomplishment. It is not a competition. So falsifying a log entry fools no one but yourself.
Do I need to start and finish all hikes from a particular location (e.g., the main parking lot)?
No, you can start from any trailhead across the park or even start a particular trail within the park where it intersects with another trail.
Can I be dropped off at a trailhead by car, be picked up by car at a second trailhead, and be driven to a third trailhead? Or, do I have to hike to each starting location?
There is no obligation to start any hike from a particular trailhead and nothing wrong with being dropped off and picked up by car. In fact, some people arrange their hikes that way to avoid having to backtrack over already-completed trails in order to reach other trails. However, hiking across the Giant’s trail system should be fun and every time one travels over a trail, new sights will be revealed.
Do I have to complete a given trail either in a certain period of time or within an allotted number of minutes/hours?
No and Yes. Here is the explanation. Once you embark on the Giant Master program, you may take as much time as you need to complete it. Some people have completed all 32 miles of trails in a single day. Others do it seasonally. If you have to, you can take years to complete all of the trails. The only time constraint is for the Twelve-Month Giant Master which must be completed in each of the twelve consecutive months of a single year. The Four-Season Giant Master must be completed in each of the four seasons, but it does not have to be completed in a single year. The only other requirement is that you be a member of the SGPA while completing your logged hikes.
There is a lengthy spur of the Blue Trail that appears to extend outside the boundaries of the park and appears to end up near Wallingford. Does this trail need to be hiked for the Giant Master program?
The spur of the Blue Trail that goes out to the Hartford Turnpike near Wallingford is actually within the property of the park and, yes, it must be completed as part of the program requirements.
Do I have to be a member of the SGPA when I start this program, when I finish, or all throughout?
You must be a member of the SGPA while completing the required hikes and at the time of application for a Giant Master certificate.
If I complete a portion of the hiking trails as an SGPA member, but allow my membership to lapse, can I pick up where I left off if I rejoin or do I have to start from scratch?
Yes, you can pick up where you left off. However, trails hiked while you are not a member of the SGPA will not count toward your certificate.
If I pursue a Four-Season Giant Master, do I have to complete the seasons consecutively?
No, you can complete them in whatever order you like.
If I pursue a Four-Season Giant Master, do I have to complete the program in a single year?
No, you can take as much time as you need.
Is there a Two- or Three-Season Giant Master?
No, the only multiple-season Giant Master available is the Four-Season one. Again, there is a Twelve-Month Giant Master, meaning that all of the trails must be hiked in each of twelve consecutive months in a single year.
Upon successful completion of the Giant Master program, do I receive some sort of acknowledgment?
Yes, you get both a certificate and a patch. The certificate is suitable for framing and the patch can be sewn onto a cap, shirt, or backpack. In addition, your name will be added to the list of Giant Masters that is maintained on the SGPA website, and your accomplishment will be recognized in the SGPA newsletter, the Giant News, which is now published three times per year.
Is there a certificate and a patch for each of the Giant Master categories
Yes, there is a certificate and a patch for each of the Giant Master categories: Giant Master, Four-Season Giant Master, Twelve-Month Giant Master, and Giant Master Marathoner.
Is the Giant Master program open to all SGPA members?
It is open to all SGPA members who are in good enough physical condition to participate in the rigorous physical activity required to hike all of the trails in the park.
Does one have to be a fitness fanatic in order to be able to complete the Giant Master program?
Certainly not. Most people in reasonably good physical condition should be able to hike all of the trails within the park; however, individuals with only limited hiking experience should not tackle the more difficult trails until they have gained some experience on less-rigorous terrain. Hikers should use common sense in recognizing their physical limitations and gain experience in slow and discrete steps…slowly working toward conditioning themselves for the more difficult trails. Moreover, hikers should be mindful of their physical condition and not stress themselves beyond their limitations. Certainly, no one should embark on a Giant Master program if not in good physical condition. If anyone has questions or doubts about his or her physical capacity to participate safely in such a program, a physician should be consulted prior to beginning.
Is any special equipment needed to complete the Giant Master program?
Seasonally appropriate clothing, including layers that can be removed in colder seasons, is important. A good pair of hiking boots is imperative for safe hiking. While sneakers may suffice for easier trails, they are a poor substitute for hiking boots. A light daypack or backpack will enable you to carry water and snacks, as needed. Water is essential for safe hiking, especially during the warmer months.
If I have hiked the Giant’s trails but have never been a member of the SGPA, am I still eligible for a certificate upon joining the SGPA?
No, you must be a member of the SGPA while hiking the trails.
I’m thinking about doing the One-Day Giant Master Marathoner. Do you have a suggestion for the best way to cover all of the trails in one day?
The stock answer is that there is no one-best-way to cover all of the trails in one day. It is necessary, however, to be in good physical condition and to undertake this challenge either in the late spring or summer or early fall when there are more hours of daylight. Many people decide to hike the more difficult trails first, saving the easier trails for last, when they are tired. According to some of the Giant Master Marathoner records, it can take anywhere from 8 to 16 hours to complete a one-day marathon.
Along the same line, is there a best way to cover all of the trails with the least amount of backtracking?
There is no one-best-way to cover all of the trails without any backtracking. As stated in answer to question 9, you can have someone drop you off and/or pick you up by car at particular trailheads. Many people have said that they get immense enjoyment from sitting at the kitchen table in the evening with the Sleeping Giant trail map to figure out the best way to cover all of the trails with the least amount of backtracking. What you don’t want to happen is to complete all of your hikes, only to discover that you forgot to do one of the crossover trails out in the middle of the park. It may take longer to get back to that point than to hike the actual trail.
How do I obtain a Giant Master hiking log and how do I submit it when it is all filled out?
The Giant Master hiking log is available at www.sgpa.org/giant-master. This page also contains information about how to submit your log.