We will remember our visit to the North Cascades as one of formidable hikes, breathtaking vistas and mind-numbing commutes to trailheads.Continue reading “Touching the Sky in Washington’s North Cascades”
A green meadow frames Kings Creek as it meanders from a forested trailhead, over the namesake falls and into the Dixie Fire burn scar at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Nearly a year after the fire, the meadow contrasted sharply with the gray cinders and blackened conifers that dominated the landscape on the loop trail to Bench Lake. Signs of recovery were sparse.
Kings Creek Falls and Bench Loop Trail (Aug. 6, 2022) – 4.3 milesContinue reading “Hiking the Dixie Fire Scar at Lassen National Park”
The trail to Bumpass Hell at Lassen Volcanic National Park gently rises along a lightly wooded ridge with views of Lassen and other iconic peaks before plunging into a steaming geologic cauldron. Acidic water boils. Mud belches. The stench of sulfur hangs in the air. We brought the grandsons.
Bumpass Hell (Aug. 5, 2022) – 2.7 milesContinue reading “A Hike to Lassen’s Bumpass Hell … and Back”
Planning a fall color tour at Rocky Mountain National Park is an exercise in timing and luck. We started late, which added to the challenge. After consulting the online foliage forecasts, we chose the last week of September 2021 for our visit. With Labor Day already past, we scrambled to snap up one of the last remaining rentals in Estes Park, made a set of suboptimal timed entry permits, and drove east via Southern Utah. We got lucky.Continue reading “Fall Color on the Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park”
The Devil’s Garden loop trail at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument passes beneath a collection of hooded hoodoos located at the end of 15 miles of suboptimal gravel road. Bring an AWD vehicle.
Devil’s Garden Trail (Sept. 21, 2021), 1 mileContinue reading “The Devil’s Garden Less Traveled at Grand-Staircase Escalante”
The Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park begins with a lengthy walk along the canyon rim overlooking the canyon’s fantastical limestone walls, curtains and columns. The trail offers a close-up view of the pastel-colored formations and desert scrub as it descends steeply into the canyon to Bryce Creek and back up to the rim.
- Fairyland Loop Trail (Sept. 20, 2021), 7.8 miles
The sandy trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls at Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument begins at a popular campground along Utah State Route 12. The first half of the trail winds up the side of the canyon above a reedy wetland. As the canyon narrows, Boxelder shade the trail as it moves closer to the creek bed and arrives at the falls.
- Lower Calf Creek Falls (Sept. 19, 2021), 6.7 miles round trip
We stopped at Zion National Park on a late September drive from San Francisco to Estes Park, CO. Unfortunately, we booked late and could not find a satisfactory hotel room within 50 miles of the park. Instead of back-country hiking, we settled for a drizzly stroll above Kolob Canyons and the scenic drive on Utah State Route 9.
- Timber Creek Overlook Trail (Sept. 18, 2021) – 1.1 miles
- Scenic Drive: Utah State Route 9 from I-15 to Mt. Carmel Junction (Sept. 18, 2021) – 54 miles
You’re Never Far from the charm of Main Street when you hike the Mendocino Headlands.
Every hike begins with great expectations. And while the redwoods at Russian Gulch State Park proved less grand and the fern canyon less lush than expected, we still found plenty to enjoy. Continue reading “Great Expectations on the Trail at Russian Gulch State Park in Mendocino”
If visiting an uplifted riverbed choked with 150-million-year-old dinosaur bones isn’t enough of a thrill at Dinosaur National Monument, be sure to hike the gouged and twisted landscapes of the Sound of Silence Trail. Continue reading “A ‘Wall of Bones’ and Tortured Landscapes at Dinosaur National Monument”
Chill air, an icy trail and high wind beneath blue skies greeted us at 10,400 feet as we stepped off to take on the Lookout Lakes Trail in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. No problem. But an earworm of the classic “Smokey Bear” song nearly drove us nuts. Continue reading “A Rather Blustery Lakeside Hike High in Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Mountains”
Scotts Bluff National Monument is named for Hiram Scott, a fur trade clerk who died nearby in 1828 after taking ill on the trail home to Missouri. We visited this fall on the road home to California with considerably less drama. We hiked to the top. Nobody died.
Roadside attractions were plentiful on our drive across the American West this fall. Most were quirky, some historic, a few disappointing. But our favorite was Carhenge in Alliance, NE. We visited at sunrise.
Context can make a hike. While the trek to Scott Lookout Tower in the Nebraska National Forest is rather ordinary, the concept of walking through a 20,000-acre forest engineered in the middle of the Great Plains makes it special. Continue reading “Hiking the Sandhills of Nebraska in America’s Largest ‘Man-Made’ Forest”
Neither of us are poets. Yet our hike on a blustery fall day through trembling Aspen groves in the Gunnison National Forest at Crested Butte, CO, inspired us to give poetry a try. And so, with a nod to junior high English teachers everywhere, we present: “Ode to Autumn at Crested Butte.”
The sheer walls and stone towers of the narrow, half-mile deep gorge at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado are breath-taking. But once you catch your breath, then what?
Considered one of the best hikes at Arches National Park, the Devil’s Garden trail draws a crowd. Be patient. The pack will thin when the scramble begins.
Trek in. Walk out. Drive by. We found no shortage of opportunities to enjoy magnificent vistas at Canyonlands National Park. So, we mixed in a scramble to the park’s only meteor crater.
Capitol Reef isn’t very big, as national parks go. But you can view magnificent desert vistas and ancient petroglyphs. You can hike up a narrow wash or beneath a stunning stone arch. You can lose the trail on a ledge 300 feet above a canyon floor. Yikes!