How Scouts can earn the 50-Miler Award

Most people think nothing of traveling 50 miles by car, bus or plane. But 50 miles on foot? That’s another story — and just the sort of achievement the 50-Miler Award recognizes. Scouts can earn this colorful award by completing 50-mile five-day treks by several non-motorized means.

What is the objective of the 50-Miler Award? The award seeks to stimulate interest in Scouting ideals and promote activities that improve personal fitness, self-reliance, knowledge of the outdoors and understanding of conservation.

Who is eligible for the 50-Miler Award? Scouts BSA members, Sea Scouts, Venturers and Scout leaders.

What constitutes a qualifying trip? A chartered unit or provisional group might organize a trip, usually a high-adventure trek. The unit must make a complete plan for the trip that includes possibilities for advancement. The group must cover a trail (or a canoe or boat route) of not less than 50 consecutive miles and take a minimum of five consecutive days to complete the trip — all without the aid of motors. During the trip, each participant must spend at least 10 hours working on a conservation project such as trail maintenance.

Ten hours of service seems like a lot. Is there an alternative? If it’s not possible to complete the service requirement during the trip, you can do a similar project in your home area. This is how Philmont crews can complete the 50-Miler Award — they do only three hours of service during their treks and an additional seven hours later.

What means of transportation can we use on our trip? The award covers hiking, bicycling, boating and canoeing. Pack animals may be used where appropriate, but requirements prohibit the use of motors.

Can a Scout or Scouter earn the 50-Miler Award more than once? Yes.

How do we apply for the 50-Miler Award? Complete the 50-Miler Award application and submit it to your local Scout council service center.

Who approves the award? The unit leader or provisional group leader signs the application, which is then submitted to the local Scout council service center for final approval.

What recognition items are available? An emblem and a hiking staff shield.

Are the 50-Miler Award patches approved for uniform wear? No, but you may affix the patches to a patch blanket, backpack or tent. You can also place award decals on canoes, paddles and plaques.


  1. Can the 50 miler award be earned by doing a combination of backpacking and canoeing together? 13 miles of canoeing and 37 miles of backpacking?

  2. I don’t see why kayaks couldn’t be used as long as you’re covering the required distance, time, and service.

    • Those two a days are really hepnilg you get the mileage in and run faster! I am sure you will be able to run a sub 18 5k for my race this past weekend I never ran 9 miles under 8 min pace and apparently it is possible with good training.

  3. Why ten hours of service if there are that many questions about it and listed in the FAQ? Wouldn’t 3 do the trick?

  4. We went to Sea Base, where we sailed >70 miles, but there were additional miles where we used a motor. Are we eligible for the 50 miler award?

    • I have this question, too. Can you earn the 50-miler on horseback? There is a horseshoe on the patch. And a wagon wheel, but the requirements do not mention horseback riding, only pack animals.

  5. The 50 Miler Application has the following note:
    Note: This award does not apply if any other award is available for this trip.
    Does this mean a scout using a 50 mile backpacking trek to satisfy a requirement for the Backpacking Merit Badge can not also earn the 50 miler award?

  6. George – go for both. Merit badges are not ‘awards’. And if you can satisfy a requirement for more than one merit badge at a time, I see no reason you can’t do a merit badge and the 50 Miler award.

  7. Good Day;
    My self and a friend took our boys on 2 different 50 mile canoe trips over 2 5 day periods on the Suwannee River, (Florida), Jun & July 2015; this was not a scouting function, just 2 dad’s bonding with out boys. I am also the Sr. Webelos Den Leader, as a Cub Scout, are the eligible to earn the 50 miler award?

  8. Is there a mountain bike equivalent? Would it be the same as the distance for the cycling meritbadge, 22 miles? 5 days not required for that though.


  9. What is the boy scout rules on receiving credit for hiking, canoeing, biking miles?
    There is some discussion in our troop that they are interchangable – that is if you canoe 20 miles it would be like hiking 20 miles. Some have said it it’s “self propelled” it’s okay to count in any category.

  10. If you have a scout that earned this award by attending see base and then also meets the qualifications by attending Philmont within the same year, do they receive two different 50 miler awards or is it a one and done type of thing?

  11. Would a 15 mile day hike followed by a 36 mile backpacking trek qualify for a 50 miler. The 51 miles are contiguous and the full trip would be on 6 consecutive days. The required planning and service hours will be included. There would be a drive after the day hike back to a campsite and an additional drive to the end of the day hike and start of the trek the next day.

  12. Can some of the service hours be completed prior to the 50 mile trek (i.e. before going to Philmont)?

  13. I’m leading a crew on a Sea Base Eco STEM trip, which involves sailing and collecting data (on coral reefs and wildlife, I believe) for the University of Saint Thomas. Can the data collection count as the conservation project required for the 50 Miler award?

5 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Earn the 50-Miler Award on one of five scenic hikes - Scouting magazine
  2. 50 Miler Award | Scouter Mom
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  4. [Troop222All] Have you worked conservation hours for your 50 Miler award? | Boy Scout Troop 222
  5. 50 Miler Award - Scouter Mom

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