Monday, February 24, 2014

Top Ten Lists --- Twenty Favorite Hikes

Roger here...  This Top Ten post includes our favorite hikes.  If you follow our blog, you know that hiking is our favorite activity.  As with all the Top Ten Posts:

1.  We are only ranking the hikes that we have taken in the past five years while traveling in the motor home.  There are LOTS of great ones that we have not done, yet.

2.  We have not yet been to Canada, Montana, most of Idaho, Nevada (in the motor home), or the Northeast. 

3.  We are not overnight backpackers (though I think it would be fun).  We are only ranking trips that can be done in a single day.

4.  We loved too many of our hikes to stop at 10.

Top Ten (twenty) hikes:

1.  Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

We have done so many hikes in this magnificent setting that it is
 difficult to pick the best one.  The Navajo, Queens Garden, and Hat Shop Trails were among the best.

Kaia and I are resting in the shade on a hike out of the canyon.  Kaia thought going down was easy.  She had other opinions about hiking back up.

2. (tie)  Yosemite National Park, California.

This is another place where every hike was memorable and
A few of the best include:  Vernal Falls, Lower Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Valley Floor Overlook.

Jaw-dropping scenery at every turn.  

For me, the most memorable hike was the one I did solo, The Four Mile Hike.

It was actually 4.6 miles from the valley floor to the top, and then another 4.6 miles back down.  Despite some serious knee pain on the way down and the bear that plopped down on the trail in front of me, it is an experience I will always relish.

2. (tie)  Zion National Park, Utah.

This is another park where all of the trails were so much fun and so very unique.  The guy in the floppy blue hat is me in the Virgin River on the Narrows hike.  

Our kids joined us on the Emerald Pools hike and the Narrows hike.

The Hidden Canyon hike, the Grotto, the Watchman, and Pa'rus hikes were also great.
Me again in the floppy blue hat at the end of an awesome hike in Kolob Canyon.
On the east side of the canyon, we abandoned the car and hiked up the slick rock to some unique formations.

Dianne and I both hiked from the valley floor to the decision point of the Angel's Landing trail.  I went on for a while further, clinging to ledges and clenching chains before common sense kicked in.  The photo below shows the views that we had.

4.  Olympic National Park, Washington

Two hikes in this incredible park were

standouts for us.  The first four pics were taken on a hike with our daughter, Amanda, to the top of

Hurricane Hill near the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center.  The wildlife competed with the scenery for our attention.

In our other memorable hike we exchanged a mountaintop for a rain forest in the valley.  Nothing but green in the two hikes we took in the Hoh Rain Forest.
Amanda and our granddaughter, Kaia, both joined us on this walk through the primeval forest.

5.  Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

The Petroglyph Trail was our favorite here. 

 Walking along ledges and stone steps cut into the side of a canyon was great fun for both of us.  In Dianne's previous post, she shows the extensive petroglyphs
at the end of the trail.

Though technically not a hike, the ranger-led trips up the ladders into the ruins have to be mentioned.

Truly an Indiana Jones experience.

6.  Shark Valley Bike Ride, Everglades National Park, Florida

Although this is technically not a hike, this 15-mile ride on

rented bikes was crazy-fun.  The exotic birds roosted in the trees.  The alligators sunned along the paved bike path.

This trek was the impetus for purchasing our own bikes later that year.  

Look at Dianne, who hated bike riding before this trip.

I was so proud of her even though she ran down an old man on the trail.  She still has a knot on her knee from the collision.

7.  Fiery Funace, Arches National Park, Utah

This ranger-led hike had us hand-walking over an abyss, crawling through miniscule

arches, hopping over deep slots in the slickrock, hugging a rock wall while sliding along a narrow ledge, and
squeezing through tight spaces. 

Dianne opted to skip this one.  I had the time of my life.

8.  Williams Lake Trail, Taos, New Mexico

Getting to the trail head at a ski resort in the mountains was an adventure in itself.  It was warm in the valley, but chilly as we walked up, up and up.  Jasper needed his coat.  Dianne and Chaplin (and me) needed several rest stops in the high altitude.

The scenery made it well worth the effort.  We treated ourselves to brats and beer at the ski resort when we returned to the car.

9.  Red Wall Hike, Nottom Bullfrog Road, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

We rented a jeep to find this trailhead in a water pocket fold.  

This is the most interesting geological hike we have taken.  As we observed the multi-colored strata along a dry wash we found one interesting formation after another.

Dianne even found a fossilized dinosaur bone as confirmed by a geologist who looked at our picture later in the day.  We left the fossil on the trail.

10.  (tie) Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

Amazing wildlife in every direction on this elevated boardwalk.
It seemed as if we were walking through a prehistoric world. The elevated walkways were a life saver, literally.  Poor fishy!

10. (tie)    Ebey's Landing, Whidbey Island, Washington.     The dogs went with us as we followed the elevated panoramic trail in one direction

and trekked down the beach on the way back.

A good day for Bandido and Tequila.

And for us.

12.  Chimney Rock Trail.  Ghost Ranch. Abiquiu, New Mexico.  Ghost Ranch is where Georgia O'Keefe did many of her famous paintings.  There truly is something special about the light here.   The hike to Chimney Rock begins among the adobe structures of Ghost Ranch.

Chimney Rock, the final destination of this one-way hike is visible from below.  Our whippets were able to accompany us on this hike, making it especially nice.

The colorful panoramic view from the top made all the exertion worthwhile.  New Mexico is a beautiful place.

13.  Stone Mountain State Park, in the foothills near the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina.  Lots of interesting hiking here.  Waterfalls sliding down the massive rock surfaces.

Lots of up and down steps.

Walking along the smooth rock surfaces at the top of the mountain was great fun for us....

and our dogs.

14.  Castle Bridge - Golden Wall Trail.  Red Canyon - near Bryce Canyon, Utah.   Another beautiful place to hike in the red rock of Utah.  

This trail was isolated.  None of the national park crowds.

We got to do a little rock scrambling.  Dianne ground some of that red, red dirt into her shorts.

Huge formations resting on the red rock and gravel.

15.  Big Bend National Park.  Santa Elena Trail. Texas.  The trails in the Chisos Mountains were closed due to fire risk during our visit; however, we were able to trek through the canyon next to the Rio Grande River.

There were some fun elements along the way.

Shady spots were certainly welcome.  A trip to Mexico from here would be no more than an ankle-deep wade.

16.  Ouray Perimeter Trail.  Ouray, Colorado.   This circular trail with views of scenic Ouray turned out to be a semi-circle for us and a true adventure.

The trail hugged the sides of the mountains that surrounded the town.  Lots of interesting features.

The weather at the start of the hike was bright and sunny.  At the half-way point the sky darkened and thunder roared.  We decided to make our own trail back to the shelter of the town, but not before getting soaked in a pouring downpour and hiding under pine trees to avoid the painful and continual hail.

It is easy to see how hypothermia could be an issue when soaked to the skin, even on a warm day.  There was so much water that our hiking shoes seemed more like water shoes as we squished into the town to hide under the awnings.

17.  Cape Flattery Trail.  Makah Indian Reservation, Olympic Peninsula, Washington.  This hike through the lush forest to the extreme northwestern point of the continental U.S. was unique.  The gray, misty weather and the green forest gave this trek a very different feel.

The rocky coastline at the point was also unlike any other place we have visited.  Think Lord of the Rings.

18.  Unnamed Trail.  Behind our campground near Monument Valley, Utah.   This trail was especially fun because finding it was an accident.  I noticed the trail traversing up the slickrock behind our campground and decided to explore.  I was amazed by what I found, so I went back to get Dianne and the dogs.

What fun to discover an arch that we did not even know was there.

Yes, that is a very long, long snake slithering about 30 feet below us.  We opted not to go down there.

19.  Ojo Caliente Resort and Spa, Ojo Caliente, New Mexico.     We camped here to enjoy the natural hot springs.  We did not realize that a series of hiking trails would lead us to the top of a low mesa....

...that was covered with thousands of decorated pottery shards. They were literally everywhere we looked.  What fun!  We, of course, left all of these artifacts were they lay.

20.  John Dellenbach Trail.  Oregon Dunes National Monument.  Oregon.  Dianne did not want to hike through the dunes, so I did a solo trip with the dogs.  The first half of the trip was through a garden-of-Eden-like forest.  There were sweet smelling springtime flowers everywhere.

The trail opened to massive sand dunes that went all the way to the ocean.  So pretty.

Bandido and Tequila enjoyed chasing each other up and down the dunes.  I repeated the first portion of the hike with Dianne a few days later.

Honorable Mentions:

TURKEY RUN STATE PARK, MARSHALL, INDIANA.  This state park has a surprising array of interesting and challenging hikes:  slot canyons, ladders and ledges, covered bridges, a suspension bridge, and a peaceful kayaking river.

LAJITAS RESORT AND SPA GOLF COURSE.  LAJITAS, TEXAS.  This beautiful golf course was closed for repairs (flooding) when we were there.  The concierge at the resort suggested that we could take the dogs on a hike following the golf cart paths.  It turned out to be an exhausting 18-hole trek along the manicured fairways, up, down and around the mountains, and along the Rio Grande River.  Much more than we expected and very unique.   I'm sure that after the repairs are complete you'll have to play golf to see the course.

DEVIL'S TOWER NATIONAL MONUMENT.  SOUTHEASTERN WYOMING.  We camped here for a couple of days while visiting the Black Hills.  A hike through prairie dog town and up to the base of the pinnacle was mandatory.  We looked for aliens as we hike the paved trail around the formation while I hummed the classic notes from Close Encounters of the Third Kind much to Dianne's chagrin.

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK.  29 PALMS, CALIFORNIA.   The giant boulders and the Joshua trees were the attractions here.  Lots of great hiking.

Dianne will be summarizing year five of our travels in our next post, followed by our favorite kayaking paddles.


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...

Great list with pictures:)

Bill and Nancy said...

Great Post!!! Amazing hikes!!! Can't think about climbing rocks without thinking of Roger;o)) You really need to get to Maine and hike some of the Coastal Trails and experience Acadia NP!!

Suzanne said...

What a wonderful list! As I start to explore the west for the first time in my motorhome over the next few months, I will certainly refer back to this post. I too am an avid hiker, so I can't wait to do these hikes. Thank you for the great descriptions and photos!


Steve Conrad said...

This post brings back great memories. I was so surprised when you two showed up at Stone Mountain State Park just minutes after we had sit up camp.

What a road map or "hike map" you have shared for me to follow. Thank you.