5-Year-Old Hikes Entire 2,100 Mile Appalachian Trail in Just 209 Days

by Jennifer Shea

A 5-year-old boy has hiked the entire 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail over the course of 209 days.

Harvey Sutton, known as “Little Man” to fellow hikers on the trail, is among the youngest ever to finish hiking the Appalachian Trail. Sutton made it through by sprinkling Skittles onto peanut butter tortillas for fuel, and with the help of his parents, the Associated Press reports.

Sutton, who started kindergarten today, enjoyed inspecting the frogs, lizards and other wildlife that populate the trail.

“The rock scrambles were really fun and hard. We were not bored,” he told the AP from Virginia, where he and his parents, Josh and Cassie Sutton, live.

Parents Compete for ‘Youngest Hiker’ Title

Sutton is not the first child to hike the entire Appalachian Trail with his or her parents. And in fact, he may not even be the youngest.

“Little Man” was just 4 years old when his parents kicked off their hike this January, but he turned 5 before the three of them finished their trek in Maine last week. Sutton’s parents note that he is a few months younger than “Buddy Backpacker,” who set the record for youngest to make the journey in 2013.

But another family is also claiming to have the youngest hiker. Juniper Netteburg completed the trail at age 4, wearing a Wonder Woman costume, on Oct. 13, 2020, along with her parents and three siblings, according to her parents.

The parents, who are missionary doctors, led their family through sections of the trail over a period of months. But as long as they didn’t skip any section of the trail, that’s allowed, Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association President Ken Bunning told the AP.

‘Little Man’ Was ‘Strong and Tough’ On Appalachian Trail

The family did run into some gnarly weather – a snowstorm in the Smoky Mountains pushed them back more than 30 miles to get to safety over the course of 2 ½ days. But aside from that, they slipped into a peaceful routine of waking up at 5:30 a.m. every morning, hiking all day and going to sleep in a tent.

Karl Donus Sakas, a hiker nicknamed “Sugar Man” who hiked with the family from Pennsylvania to Maine, complimented Harvey’s toughness and energy levels.

“He’s pretty strong and tough. So often we’d get to camp and I’d be beaten and tired. And Little Man would say, ‘Let’s play freeze tag!’” he told the AP.

Other hikers that crossed paths with gave Sutton toys, like a pocket watch, Hot Wheels and a pet rock. “Little Man” even bought himself a calculator at a Dollar Store to tally the miles they’d hiked.

Their journey ended on Aug. 9 at the peak of Mount Katahdin. And the hike brought the family closer than they’d ever been before, Sutton’s parents said.

Now it’s back to work in real estate for them and school for “Little Man.”