10 Favorite Hikes Not in New Jersey

Happy 10th Birthday to us!  In celebration of 10 long years, we are doing a series of birthday posts.  Look, here’s one right now!

We’ve been renowned among our four to ten readers throughout our existence for our ability to ADHD like crazy on this esteemed website.  It’s South Jersey Trails!  All about those trails in South Jersey!  Hike, hike, hike!  So of course we have felt the need to include posts about canoeing, camping, backpacking, history, etc while managing to post trails and adventures in a wide swath of states, many of them located no where near the Great State of South Jersey, and even North Jersey.

So no series of birthday posts would be complete without a post that has nothing to do with New Jersey – 10 of my favorite hikes NOT in New Jersey!

10) Gorge Trail – Watkins Glen State Park – Watkins Glen, NY – 1.5 miles one way (can take shuttle back to the parking lot)

Watkins Glen State Park in general and the Gorge Trail in particular are jam packed with people all Summer, and for good reason – it’s an amazing hike.  Grumpy curmudgeon that I am, I don’t like to share trails with other people (that’s why I have… a… hiking… blog… never mind!), but the hike is nothing that hitting the trails at 6:30 AM can’t cure.  It’s a tough hike, but to be completely honest, you’ll be stopping so often to look at the approximately 39,983 waterfalls that you won’t notice a bit.

9) Fort Bowie National Historic Site, Arizona – 3 miles round trip

Where in the world are you talking about?  Fort Bowie sits in Arizona not far from the border with New Mexico.  It was strategically built near Apache Springs, the most reliable water source in the region.  This park isn’t visited by too many people, and it takes a 1.5 mile walk one way just to reach the visitors center.  How did I end up here?  Back in the early 1970s, my uncle planned a road trip based on the book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.  Fort Bowie was one of the places that Geronimo was held prisoner.  So my uncle and dad stopped here and made the hike out to the visitor center.  The ranger and his family were very happy to see the two of them, because they’d had very few visitors for weeks.  The kids were happy to show off a little surprise… a rattlesnake had been caught on their porch that morning under a bucket.  This was one of my dad’s favorite stories to tell us growing up, so how could I not stop?  Things hadn’t changed much, the ranger was still not seeing a ton of people and was delighted we stopped by.  We didn’t see another soul in the park.  It’s been 13 years, but I doubt much has changed.

8) Inspiration Point – Grand Teton National Park – Jackson, Wyoming – 5.7 miles (or 1.8 miles with the boat ride)

One of the most popular hikes in this spectacular park, this 5.7 mile hike (or 1.8 mile if you take the boat ride) takes you around the edge of Jenny Lake, to a hidden waterfall, then to a inspiring view from Inspiration Point.  Great place to spot moose, but hopefully not a bear (at least, not too close).  This hike made me fall in love with this park, and I’ve been lucky enough to be back twice since.

7) Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah

One of the absolute gems of the national park system.  How does Utah end up with so many highlights?  Again, while it’s been 13 year since I was here, I have no doubt that the hike down to the bottom of Bryce Canyon is still a world class hike. The colors alone make this a hike worth taking.

Also, this never seems to change much, which is a great credit to the National Park Service.  Evidence – my uncle and father’s photograph from 1972.

Man, 1972.  Am I right?

6) Panorama and Mist Trails – Yosemite National Park, California

This is John Muir country.  I can’t lie, our first day in Yosemite National Park way back in 2010 was a great disappointment, I felt like I could have gotten more solitude in Grand Central Station in New York City.  But on our second day, we took the early morning hiker shuttle up to Glacier Point. It was just as crazy at the overlook, but on the hike down (where the crowds all but disappeared, at least until the Mist Trail) I felt like I got a real look at John Muir’s Yosemite, and it was spectacular.  John Muir was a lunatic, but this trail made me want to be a lunatic right along beside him.  The trail featured amazing views of Half Dome and the Yosemite Valley, and then the Mist Trail to the valley floor had us walking through the water droplets coming off the waterfall.  Amazing.

5) Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park, Utah

So Arches National Park, despite its high attendance numbers, ranks among my favorite national parks that I’ve been fortunate enough to visit.  Part of it is the arches, how cool is a rock arch?  Part of it is the rugged desert scenery.  Maybe I’m just a sucker because I come from the lush, green Northeast, where we never see bare rock (I mean, bare rock isn’t even a thing in South Jersey).  But Arches stands (for me) as the Queen of Utah’s arch of five national parks.  This particular area is accesible only by special permit or with the limited ranger-led guided hikes.  Being the dessert virgins that we were, Alix and I took a guided tour.  It was two hours of canyon walls, hidden arches and hoodoos, and feeling like an old time train robber looking for a hideout.  Even 13 years and bazillions of National Parks later, this hike stands out as a highlight of my life.

4) Cadillac Mountain – Acadia National Park – Bar Harbor, Maine

Don’t sleep on the National Parks east of the Mississippi.  Acadia National Park is an absolute gem of the national park system.  I’ve been fortunate enough to spend three weeks of my life here between my family and Scouts, checking out tide pools while my kid shows his concern by shouting “Dada!  Dada!”.  This is the first place in the USA to see the sunrise, and I can’t recommend hiking to its peak enough.  While this isn’t an easy hike, it’s one of the greatest in the national park system that you can take. You’ll never regret a minute you’ll spend on it, especially with the spectacular views at the top.  We start at the campground, climb the South Ridge Trail up to the summit.  We then took “the fun way” up another mountain before leaving at Sieur de Mont.

3) Grandma Gatewood Trail – Hocking Hills State Park – Logan, Ohio

Grandma Gatewood was the first female to solo thru hike the Appalachian Trail.  Her favorite hike was this trail in her home state of Ohio, a 14 mile out-and-back that goes through canyons and past waterfalls (you can also park a car at each end to cut it in half), that she led a hike on each New Years Day for many years.  No one I meet believes this hike is Ohio, but it is.  Seriously.

If my 8 year old ran this blog, his post would say “I touched a waterfall here.” and that would be the whole post.  He still talks about this hike that he went on when he was 7 (and again last year) as a highlight of his life.  He might be on to something.

Dream Lake was very dreamy.

2) Dream Lake Hike – Rocky Mountain National Park – Estes Park, Colorado

One of the most popular hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park, and for a good reason – a beautiful alpine lake without nearly as much work as it usually takes to see one of these.  We hiked up from Bear Lake, then looped over and down from Bierstadt Lake for a total of 7 miles.  A perfect hike in a perfect place, minus racing down the mountain as the thunderstorm got closer.  Have I mentioned my wife is amazing for doing this with five kids?  Because my wife is amazing for doing this with five kids.

1) Iceberg Lake – Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is running out of glaciers, so 6 years ago, we went to see some with The Pres and Tree Rider, who were 4 and 2 at the time.  We were gone for a month driving there and back, and visited ALOT of national parks and did A LOT of hikes.  But this 10 miler (which The Pres did under his own steam) to a lake that had glaciers overhanging it was spectacular from beginning to end.  Constant mountain views, a beautiful, clear lake, glaciers, a bridge (even in national parks, I am a sucker for hiker bridges), make this my favorite trail I’ve ever done.  And we didn’t meet a grizzly bear, which was an added bonus!

Thanks for hanging out for 10 years of this dumb blog!

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