Introducing the #NoSponsor Heroes of Backpacking

They go above and beyond for the love of the trail. Now, BACKPACKER is shining the spotlight on them. Tell us who we should feature next.

Nicholas Collins, 43, Oakland, CA

This Bay Area hiker created a new trail community.

A lot of hikers get out every week. Few bring a hundred others with them. Five years ago, Collins, who fell in love with Bay Area trails as a kid, looked around and noticed who wasn’t hiking—neighbors who lived within minutes of trails, and people who simply “didn’t fit the conventional mold of what hikers look like.” So he started 510 Hikers (named for the East Bay’s area code) to share the health benefits of hiking with a diverse urban community. “We hike, but we also spend time connecting in other meaningful ways,” he says. “In the last four years, we’ve served almost 5,000 hot meals.” The group also leads coat and shoe drives and organizes children’s hikes. For Collins and other club leaders, the highest priority is inspiring others. “I see the outdoor community expanding and I believe our 7,500 members have been a part of that, creating a ripple effect,” he says, describing the happy hour vibe of their outings. “We didn’t invent hiking, we just made it cool.”