12 Epic Hikes of the Western United States, Part 3

Hiking through Chesler Park in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Hiking through Chesler Park in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park – this is another “Epic” hike that didn’t quite make it to the list…

Or, 12 Dayhikes You Should Take With Your Kids Before They’re Grown

 

Today we have another collection of Epic Hikes in the Western US!  This time our man is middle-age, highly creative, full of energy and fun, and was the force behind our traveling in the first place (he planned all our trips for many years, and still does a majority of the cooking).  He absolutely loves epic views (especially mountains) and I think his favorite place to trek is in northwest Washington, especially if that includes trails around Mt. Baker.

Our man, on left: He and another group member observe the blowing mist along the Mazama Trail near Mt. Hood, Oregon

Our man, on left: He and another group member observe the blowing mist along the Mazama Trail near Mt. Hood, Oregon

So without further ado, here are his picks for some of the most epic hikes in the western US (though he’d be just as happy to also suggest other trails in the same parks / regions as the ones he’s listing here).


Most Epic

Walking along the further reaches of Skyline Divide, Mt. Baker Wilderness, Washington

Walking along the further reaches of Skyline Divide

1. Skyline Divide, Mt. Baker Wilderness, Washington. How can you get any better than this? Canadian Cascades, Mt. Baker’s cone, wildflowers… and on a ridge hike. It’s just plain epic.

The back side of the Maroon Bells from Buckskin Pass, Colorado

The back side of the Maroon Bells from Buckskin Pass

2. Buckskin Pass, Maroon Bells, Colorado. So the en-route views may not be the most spectacular, but considering you start with a view of the Maroon Bells (considered the most photographed view in Colorado) and end with a back-side view of the Maroon Bells and an awesome view of Snowmass Mountain, well, it’s pretty epic.

Along the upper reaches of Cooper Spur, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon

Along the upper reaches of Cooper Spur

3. Cooper Spur, Mt. Hood National Forest, Oregon. This hike has long been an outstanding favorite. Mt. Hood, glaciers, and the Columbia River Valley make this one stand out as memorable.

The Tetons from Table Mountain, Jedediah Smith Wilderness & Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Tetons from Table Mountain

4. Table Mountain (via the Face Trail), Jedediah Smith Wilderness, Wyoming. The view from this high peak is so varied, it would be difficult not to be a favorite: alpine meadows, the Tetons, alpine canyons, golden plains, alpine lakes, rugged and oddly shaped cliffs; I can never tell exactly which state we’re in: Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, or…

The Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge, Banff National Park, Alberta

The Saskatchewan Glacier from Parker Ridge. Photo courtesy of eileenmak

5. Parker Ridge, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. With almost endless ridge walking and the Canadian Rockies above and the Saskatchewan Glacier far below, this is one of the best of the best we’ve done in that region. Once hiking it just after the area’s first snowfall made it even more special.

Views from atop Hallett Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Views from atop Hallett Peak

6. Hallett Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. If you can only do one hike in Rocky Mountain, this may well be the best. The views are far-ranging, including so many peaks, lakes, and more.

Mt. Baker from near Camp Kaiser on Ptarmigan Ridge, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington

Mt. Baker from near Camp Kaiser on Ptarmigan Ridge

7. Ptarmigan Ridge, Mt. Baker Wilderness, Washington. They said we shouldn’t try it. That it was snow-covered, and we’d never make it.  Well, they were wrong.  Dead wrong.  Because we did it – twice.  And it’s not as bad as they said, though you will have to cross a couple permanent snowfields (no ice axes required in the later summer).  And the views – oh, the views – far more than make up for the trouble.  Mt. Baker so close it feels like you can touch it, Mt. Shuksan just a couple valleys away… how to describe that?

 

Also Totally Epic:

Dune hiking in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Dune hiking in White Sands National Monument

8. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Hill after hill after hill of sand as white as any Caribbean beach: how are you supposed to top that for “epic”? And the great thing is that you can walk just about anywhere you want in the park, and exploring the sandhills is something that isn’t easily forgotten.

Mt. Baker from the pass below Hidden Lake Lookout, North Cascades National Park, Washington

Mt. Baker from the pass below Hidden Lake Lookout

9. Hidden Lake, North Cascades National Park, Washington. This hike is just one of “Oh, wow!” The views toward Mt. Baker and Mt. Shuksan during the hike are pretty incredible, then looking down on Hidden Lake and over to Glacier Peak are something you won’t soon forget.

Arrowhead Lake and the Cirque of Towers, Wind River Range, Wyoming

Arrowhead Lake and the Cirque of Towers

10. Cirque of Towers Overlook, Wind River Range, Wyoming. It’s 17 miles through one of America’s most remote mountain ranges, but all that pales when you come up over the pass and see the famous climbing mecca: the Cirque of Towers.

Cacti blooms just above Lava Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Cacti blooms just above Lava Falls

11. Lava Falls Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. More of a route than a trail, well, scrambling down lava ledges and skateboarding down a scree-filled chute on flat rocks isn’t quickly forgotten. Add to that it’s one of the few (only?) dayhikeable trails to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and you’ve got an epic hike.

Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

Pueblo Bonito. Photo courtesy of Dot Nielsen

12. Pueblo Bonito, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico. If you only see one ancient Native American site in your life, make it Pueblo Bonito. The epically preserved, enormous house is more accessible than most other sites, and you can even hike to the nearby clifftop for aerial views.  Pretty epic, if you ask me!

 

Bonus!

Wildflowers in Spray Park, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Wildflowers in Spray Park

13. Spray Park, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. This area of Mt. Rainier isn’t as popular as Paradise, but it’s no less on its views. Get above the park for some truly epic views of Washington’s only 14er.

 

Read about Epic Hikes Part 1 and Epic Hikes Part 2!

 

4 thoughts on “12 Epic Hikes of the Western United States, Part 3

  1. Pingback: 12 Epic Hikes in the Western US, Pt. 2 - Anne's Travels

  2. Pingback: 8 Epic Hikes in the Western US, Pt. 1 - Anne's Travels

  3. Ashley

    Very cool! I haven’t been on any of these. I didn’t do much hiking in The States when I lived there. Now I have a few to do whenever I go back and visit. Thanks for sharing these!