A once sought-after destination during the California Gold Rush will now become a true gold mine for hikers who are ready to test their physical limits and live in perfect harmony with nature over several days.
Big Bear Lake, the jewel of the San Bernardino National Forest in Southern California, will serve as the inaugural U.S. location for the internationally acclaimed HIGHLANDER event series. The event will be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 2.
HIGHLANDER Big Bear Lake will offer three different formats: a 60-mile, five-day journey; a 30-mile, three-day journey; and a 15-mile weekend adventure. (Earlier in the year, on May 14-15, Spartan will host a Trifecta weekend in Big Bear Lake.)
What Is HIGHLANDER?
HIGHLANDER is truly a one-of-a-kind experience. During the HIGHLANDER hiking journey, each participant connects with nature and starts to look at life from a different perspective. The trail will test participants, but they will conquer it, making new friends and using all five senses in the process. Since HIGHLANDER is not a race and there are no winners or losers, participants — even perfect strangers — cheer each other on throughout.
HIGHLANDER was founded in Croatia in 2017 when friends Jurica Barac, Igor Mlinarevic, and Andrej Mlinarevic decided to share their love and passion for long-distance hiking. It has since grown into a global series across 15 countries, including Austria, France, Greece, Morocco, Slovenia, and the United Arab Emirates.
"Our vision is to motivate people to go hiking and thus change themselves for the better, in both mental and physical health,’’ said HIGHLANDER Adventure CEO and co-founder Jurica Barac. "That is why we are happy and proud that HIGHLANDER is finally coming to America."
“HIGHLANDER is a long-distance hiking adventure open to anyone who wants to push their limits while learning about sustainable living,” Barac added. “For the first time, the HIGHLANDER event will take place in America, in Big Bear Lake, which exudes adventure and beautiful landscapes. I invite everyone to join us, and make a change with us."
Spartan x HIGHLANDER: 2 Brands, 1 Common Goal
In 2021, Spartan recognized HIGHLANDER’s potential as a strategic partner, paving the way to bring this unique, long-distance adventure-hiking event to the U.S.
The vision, mission, and values shared by these two brands come from the same core: building mental and physical toughness to bring about positive lifestyle changes.
"Spartan’s partnership with HIGHLANDER allows us to encourage even more people around the world to participate in physically demanding activities that they think are beyond their reach," said Spartan founder and CEO Joe De Sena. "This is about finding our limits and then pushing past them.”
Every HIGHLANDER event has its own iconic location — from expansive deserts to snowy mountaintops, and from sandy dunes to lakes and pastures — appealing to modern nomads.
Participants are encouraged to put down their smartphones and fully immerse themselves in nature, while joining the international HIGHLANDER community of hikers.
A Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience on the Trail
"The HIGHLANDER approach strikes the perfect balance between guided trek and self-sufficient expedition,” said Peter Watson, acclaimed travel writer, photographer, and HIGHLANDER ambassador. “With many logistics taken care of, I can enjoy all the freedom that comes with trekking independently, but with the added bonus of carrying less weight and not worrying about meals, gas supply, route planning, or searching for suitable campsites every day. Instead, I just focus on the trail ahead and enjoy the scenery.
“HIGHLANDER is also a great way to meet likeminded people and socialize while on the trail. Even though I'm a solo hiker, other walkers are never far away and always happy to pause for a chat. The evenings are sociable affairs, with trekkers sharing stories around a campfire. I’ve stayed in touch with many people I met on the trail and we’re already planning other HIGHLANDER treks."
Early-bird registration for HIGHLANDER Big Bear Lake is now open. Click here to learn more.