Today, here’s a guest post from one of my group members. He’s young, loves awe-inspiring views (especially over peaceful or spectacular valleys), and is generally quiet until he really has an opinion. Then, world watch out! (And I should know – as his older sister, well, I know when to back down :-).)
At any rate, he’s kindly provided us with a list of his 8 most epic day hikes in the western US. An enthusiastic hiker, and avid view-seeker, and unafraid of either wilderness or long / difficult trail conditions… “Epic” means long, adventurous, and with especially breath-taking, top-of-the-world views. However, they can be enjoyed as a day hike with moderate to excellent physical fitness at the proper times of year (like, not when Death Valley is 100 degrees or Skyline Divide is covered with snow). Enjoy!
8 Epic Day Hikes in the Western US
Skyline Divide, Mt. Baker Wilderness, Washington.
What Makes it Epic: Views over beautiful valleys, the not-so-far-off Canadian Cascades, and the ever-closer cone of Mt. Baker. Awe-inspiring! RT Trail Length: Upwards of 4.2 miles; you should at least hike 5 miles out for the best experience.
Lava Falls Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
What Makes it Epic: There technically isn’t even a trail, just a 1.5 mile route. This is the only rim-to-river route short enough to day hike, but it requires more than just good route finding skills… like a good dose of balance when the rock you’re standing on decides to slide the rest of the way down the scree chute… with you surfing on it! RT Trail Length: 3 miles
Hiking across Death Valley, Death Valley National Park, California.
What Makes it Epic: Who wouldn’t want to hike across the lowest place in the western hemisphere, with spectacular salt flats and snow-capped peaks galore? RT Trail Length: Guessing about 5-10, depending on whether or not you have a shuttle vehicle (we haven’t visited since I got a GPS).
Stairway to Heaven / Alaska Basin Overlook, Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming.
What Makes it Epic: Only 5.5 miles to the overlook above spectacular Alaska Basin, when visiting the idyllic basin would be 16 miles RT. Oh, and the stunning cliffs and wildflowers in season… RT Trail Length: 9-11 miles
Horseshoe Mesa, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
What Makes it Epic: Fabulous views of the Grand Canyon like you’ve never seen before from the more popular corridor trails… and chances are you’ll have the mesa to yourself. RT Trail Length: 10 miles
Third Beach to Strawberry Point, Olympic National Park, Washington.
What Makes it Epic: Scrambling up sheer hillsides, wading through mud and tree roots, strolling through a rain forest, and walking among sea stacks… all on one trail! RT Trail Length: 11.7 miles; you could cut it back a bit.
Ptarmigan Ridge, Mt. Baker Wilderness Area, Washington.
What Makes it Epic: Fantastic, spectacular views over Mt. Baker and Mt. Shucksan (the former so close it feels like you can touch it), crossing permanent snowfields, walking along the side of a sheer ridge with jaw-dropping views in every direction. RT Trail Length: 10.5 miles; could cut it back a bit and still enjoy the scenery.
South Kaibab–Tonto-Bright Angel Loop, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
What Makes it Epic: Unrivaled spectacular Grand Canyon views pretty much non-stop until the Bright Angel Trail; walking along the rim of the inner canyon… so you’re really walking through the Grand Canyon proper! RT Trail Length: 13.1 miles
Zoom map in to browse individual hikes
This Week’s Featured Product!
Looking for a little fun? Check out this coloring book for not-so-much-children as for adults who enjoy traveling (or wish they could travel to) the western United States!