NO&YO Adventure Bucket List – US best trails
Since half of the country is under several feet of snow and it’s raining in the sunny California, it’s the best time to set your hiking goals for this summer and check some of the places on your Adventure Bucket List off. The Outside Magazine created a list which seems to have something for everyone, so here it goes – get planning!
- Best Pacific Coast Trail
Starting at the Palomarin Trailhead, near Bolinas, the 5.5-mile Coastal Trail in California’s Point Reyes National Seashore features views of the Pacific (watch for whales), a swimming spot in Bass Lake (watch for nudists), and the holy-crap 30-foot-tall Alamere Falls (just watch). Overnight at the oceanside Wildcat Camp ($15 per night; nps.gov), about five miles from the trailhead and one mile from the falls.
- Best Grand Canyon Trail
It doesn’t have a name, and the only easy way to access it is to float the Grand. Stop at Kanab Canyon, at mile 144, and hike in. Three miles up the canyon, there’s a huge alcove where most hikers tend to stop. Don’t. Hike a half mile up, turn right into the slot canyon that enters from the east, and walk another half mile. At the end of the canyon, you’ll find the 100-foot Whispering Falls tumbling into a 15-foot-deep swimming hole.
- Best Trail that Requires a Boat and a Gun
It’s not for the faint of heart. The rugged, 32-mile Cross Admiralty Canoe Trail connects seven lakes on Southeast Alaska’s Admiralty Island via mud and boardwalk portages. Launch at the Tlingit fishing ¬village of Angoon, a six-hour ferry ride from Juneau ($72 round-trip; alaskaferry.com), or hire a water taxi (call Whalers Cove Lodge, in Angoon; 800-423-3123) to start at Mole Harbor, the trail’s eastern end. Either route involves navigating tidal whitewater in Mitchell Bay. Did we mention the bears? There are some 1,600 of them. In addition to a firearm, you’ll want tide charts, a VHF radio, a fly rod (the lakes are jammed with trout), and an Alaskan buddy with a boat.
- Best Sea-Kayaking Trail
With stop-off points on 146 granite isles, the Maine Island Trail offers more options and solitude than either Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands or Washington’s San Juans. Go in September, when the swell is below four feet. Start with the 30-mile loop around Great Wass Island and flag down a lobster boat in Moosabec Reach (expect to pay $2 per pound) for a proper camp feast.
- Best Cuts of the Appalachian Trail
North Carolina’s Standing Indian Mountain—the grandstand of the southern Appalachians—is 1,000 feet above anything else nearby. And totally underappreciated. In Vermont, there’s a 23-mile section between Route 12 and Hanover that’s classic New England birch-and-pine forest: Robert Frost terrain.
—Warren Doyle, 61, 16-time hiker of the AT, as told to Charles Bethea
- Best Trails Ending in Hot Springs
1. Boulder Creek Trail, Lowell, Idaho Length: 5.5 miles. Destination: Stanley Hot Springs.Temperature: 103 degrees.
2. Little Bear Canyon Trail, Gila Wilderness, New Mexico Length: 6 miles (through a rugged slot canyon). Destination: Jordan Hot Springs. Temperature: 94 degrees.
3. Hot Springs Trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas Length: 3 miles. Destination: Langford Hot Springs. Temperature: 105 degrees.
Best Stretch of the Continental Divide
The eight-mile above-treeline hike from Berthoud Pass, Colorado, on Highway 40 near Winter Park, to James Peak links four 13,000-plus-foot peaks. Drop down to Heart Lake to camp among wildflowers.
- Best Through-Hikes You’ve Never Heard Of
1. North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail starts at Clingman’s Dome and travels 947 miles to the Atlantic. Highlight: 82 miles of beach trail on the Outer Banks.
2. Most hikers spot more bears than people in the mountains and pine forests of the 223-mile Ouachita Trail in Arkansas and Oklahoma. Recommended campgrounds: Winding Stair and Big Brushy.
3. Traversing Utah’s Uinta Mountains, the aptly named Highline Trail stays above 10,000 feet for the better part of 100 miles.
- Best Trail for Designating a Driver
The 405-mile route between Denver and Durango, Colorado, contains about 40 great breweries, beer bars, and brew pubs. Your mandatory stops: >Denver’s Euclid Hall (euclidhall.com). Beer: Steamworks Euclidean Pale Ale. >Aspen Brewing Company (aspenbrewingcompany.com). Beer: Brown Bearale. >Ouray Brewery’s sunny roof deck (ouraybrewery.com). Beer: San Juan IPA. >Durango’s Ska Brewery skabrewery.com. Beer: Ten Pin Porter.
- Best Trail for Dessert
Between mid-August and mid-September, an endless supply of huckleberries lines Washington’s Pacific Crest Trail corridor. Make for the 100-mile section south of White Pass (on Highway 12) through Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Bring cobbler fixings and your Dutch oven.
Best Canoe Trail
One lake, two states, tons of wildlife, and 15 miles of rapids. And that’s just one day on the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which arcs across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine. For a weekend sampler, put in at Umbagog Lake, the heart of the 25,650-acre Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, which straddles the Maine–New Hampshire line. Let the loons, bald eagles, and osprey overhead preoccupy you. But as you drift into the Androscoggin River, it’s time to reengage: the 17 river miles to Pontook Dam are full of Class I–III rapids.
- Best Wilderness Trail Ending in Water
Approximately 7,700 years ago, Oregon’s Crater Lake was formed when a volcanic eruption blew the top off Mount Mazama, leaving a 4,000-foot-deep crater that, like a giant bathtub with no drain, gradually filled with rain and snowmelt over the millennia. That’s why it has such a distinct Crayola color—and why you feel so compelled to jump in. There’s only one way to reach the lake: the Cleetwood Cove Trail, which descends nearly 700 feet over the course of a mile.
For the complete list of trails, click here.
What’s your favorite trail that we should add to our Adventure Bucket List?
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