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Entries in this blog

Grand Canyon Hiking and Backpacking Logistics

The Grand Canyon captivates many of those who penetrate its depths, and I am one of them. Living nearly a thousand miles from the South Rim means I visit the canyon, at most, once or twice a year, so I try to make each visit count. In April of 2024, I completed my fourth hike to the canyon floor. Each of my hikes has been very different. When it comes to hiking in the Grand Canyon, those looking for expansive views and rugged terrain won't be disappointed. Backpacking the Grand C

Susan Dragoo

Susan Dragoo in Trips

Two Short Hikes in Zion: Canyon Overlook & Many Pools

Zion National Park is one of my favorite national parks, and for good reason: there are amazing views, beautiful cliffs and streams, abundant photography opportunities, and wonderful hikes. The park has several well-known popular hikes – The Subway, Zion Narrows, and Angel’s Landing for example – but there are some other shorter or lesser known hikes that are also well worth your while. I have made a couple of short visits as part of my mountain biking and hiking trips over the past two years, a

Steve Ancik

Steve Ancik in Trips

Hiking the Mariscal Rim Trail: A Return to Big Bend

Last fall, my sister, Melissa, and I visited Big Bend National Park in west Texas (see TrailGroove #56). As we left, we decided that we needed to return in the spring – unfinished business! One of the main reasons was to hike the Mariscal Canyon Rim Trail, which we didn’t hike last trip as the temperature was going to be too high. While our previous trip (detailed here) involved more extensive hiking and some backpacking, during our latest trip, we hiked several shorter hikes and drov

Steve Ancik

Steve Ancik in Trips

Skiing to Hogan Cabin: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest

In typical backpacker fashion, I did my solemn duty of taking off the Thursday before a federal holiday falling on a Friday to schedule a two-night trip followed by a day of rest. A stroke of good fortune allowed me to book Christmas Eve and Christmas night at a small, rustic Forest Service rental cabin in the mountains of the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest. Given the frigid forecast, it was well worth the nominal fee to know that after skiing around all day I’d have four walls,

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

The Devil's Eyebrow: Hard Hiking in Northwest Arkansas

“Build a railroad right through these mountains? You can’t do it, man; you can’t do it. You might as well try to build a railroad on the Devil’s eyebrow as to undertake to build one in such a place.” And so the words of a pioneer gave a rugged sandstone formation in northwest Arkansas its name. The year was 1880, and surveyors were doing preliminary work on the location of the Frisco Railroad. The railroad was built, the name stuck, and today “Devil’s Eyebrow” is one of 75 Natural Areas managed

Susan Dragoo

Susan Dragoo in Trips

John Muir Trail Tips and Hiking Guide

Some years ago I was eating breakfast with my wife, Lyn, at the Vermillion Valley Resort when a group of unusual looking people sat down at an adjacent table. They were wiry and weather beaten and gave off a raised-by-wolves vibe. They proceeded to eat enormous platters of food, which they washed down with beer. They turned out to be thru hikers from the nearby John Muir Trail (JMT). After they told us a little about their trip, I said to my wife, “I want to do that! – or, at least, I want to lo

George Graybill

George Graybill in Trips

A Day Hiking Weekend in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

My childhood best friend moved to Akron, Ohio right after she graduated high school to attend the University of Akron. Being from Virginia and having lived there all my life, I had never really heard of the city aside from its connection to Lebron James (but even about this my knowledge was severely limited due to my lack of interest in basketball). That was seven years ago, and I realized recently that I still had yet to visit despite her open invitation. Feeling guilty and quite aware of how l

Grace Bowie

Grace Bowie in Trips

Rugged and Remote: Backpacking the Ferris Mountains WSA

For years and usually while driving to go hike or visit some other place, a small mountain range in southern Wyoming had always caught my eye from a remote stretch of highway in south-central Wyoming – a range that sharply rises up above the dry sagebrush plains in a place nearly without a name. The consistently jaw-dropping views of these obscure peaks from north of the range and a unique row of limestone fins on the south side of the range led to further research, and I eventually learned that

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

Springtime Solitude - A Wyoming Red Desert Overnight

The Red Desert of Wyoming holds a unique appeal no matter your approach – it’s a country just as suitable for backpacking as it is for exploring and camping beside your vehicle off a rough and long forgotten dirt road. Either way, you’re likely to be in the middle of the nowhere. Adding to its allure, to begin the year the desert can only be comfortably explored for a short time each spring after the roads have sufficiently dried from melting snow to make passage by vehicle (just to g

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

Backpacking in the Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

On this trip, I was able to return to Canyonlands National Park, but this time stayed on the opposite side of the river from the Maze to join up with Ted Ehrlich and Christy who drove in from Colorado to backpack through Salt Creek Canyon and the Needles. The Needles offer a near endless array of unique rock formations to find and routes to explore. Into the Needles Our respective drives late on a Thursday night resulted in a noon-ish start from the Cathedral Butte trailhead

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

Backpacking in the Maze, Canyonlands National Park

A few years ago and to follow up on a previous Utah hiking trip, Ted Ehrlich and I spent a few days backpacking in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. The Maze is frequently referred to as one of the most remote spots in the lower 48, and though I’m not sure how exactly it ranks on that scale, it did require some significant amounts of off-highway driving to reach. The Maze is located in southeastern Utah, west of the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers and bordere

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

Hiking Buckskin Gulch: A Trip Report and Guide

During an April trip several years ago, Ted Ehrlich and I spent a few days hiking and camping in southern Utah – one highlight of that trip had to be our hike through Buckskin Gulch, one of the longest and deepest slot canyons in the world. With a snowy drive through Wyoming and then a whiteout in Colorado, the drive wasn’t a fast one and I met Ted at a deserted trailhead near Grand Junction around 10pm. From here we’d carpool into Utah. We drove west in the night, eventually moving past the sno

Aaron Zagrodnick

Aaron Zagrodnick in Trips

Overnight Ski to Section House at Boreas Pass, Colorado

They say fire warms the soul, better yet when that fire is in a potbelly stove set inside a historic cabin atop the spine of the continent burning wood you didn’t have to chop! Rachel and I decided to celebrate my 31st birthday and our recent move to Colorado by booking an overnight stay at one of the over 30 backcountry huts for rent in Colorado through the 10th Mountain Hut Association and the above scenario is exactly what we found. Based on some advice from fellow TrailGroove writer @PaulMag

HikerBox

HikerBox in Trips

Biking the Burr Trail, Utah

The last two winters I’ve spent living in the American southwest, and before I left I planned to take a long bike ride. I wasn’t quite sure where I wanted to go, but I was leaning towards somewhere way out in the desert. I changed my mind many times in the months before the trip, but eventually decided to leave sunny California, and drive further inland, to Utah. I had driven this highway once before, a scenic route through the southern part of Utah. Highway 12, “The All American Road

michaelswanbeck

michaelswanbeck in Trips

Backpacking in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, Montana

Hiking from one beautiful place to another on pleasant and well-maintained trails is a great way to spend five days. Doing so with a good friend and cooperative weather makes a great experience even better. Throw in a few synchronous strokes of good fortune and you end up with an incredibly rewarding and memorable adventure. Neither John nor I had been on a four-night trip since March 2011 when he, myself, and my girlfriend at the time did a trek through the Chiricahua Mountains in so

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

Seeking Solitude: Backpacking in the Bitterroot Mountains

With backpacks loaded and my friend Drew in the passenger seat, both of us eager to head to subalpine lakes with hungry trout, I turned the keys in the ignition and proceeded to break one of my cardinal rules of backpacking: don’t start in a trip in the middle of a holiday weekend. As advantageous as having an extra day off work to extend a backpacking trip is, if you’re spending that time on a crowded trail only to end up at an area where all the best campsites are taken the “victory” is at bes

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

Lakes, Peaks, & Bugs: Hiking the Beaverhead Mountains

Although lacking wilderness status or the “brand name” recognition of Glacier National Park, the Beaverhead Mountains in western Montana are a remarkably scenic landscape with few crowds and plenty of lakes with trout in them. In other words, they contain all the prerequisites for a great backpacking trip. The Beaverhead Mountains, which are at the southern end of the Bitterroot Mountain Range, are also notorious for having millions of voracious mosquitoes which makes early season trips here a f

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

Summit Serenity: Climbing Mount Saint Helens

Sitting atop the summit of Mount Saint Helens, with views of over a hundred miles in every direction, a passage from a novel came to mind as I sipped a cup of coffee and gazed at distant peaks. Seemingly appropriate when applied to an exceptionally clear autumn day observed from atop a mountain, an experience that makes one feel full of life. It felt like the “most beautiful day in a thousand years. The October air was sweet and every faint breath a pleasure.” As Annie Proulx wrote in the book,

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

An Outlaws' Retreat: Hiking in Robbers Cave State Park

The forested slopes of southeastern Oklahoma’s ironically named Sans Bois Mountains provide the backdrop for much of the excitement in “True Grit,” a novel by Charles Portis and two major motion pictures (1969 and 2010). You wouldn’t know it though, for the mountain peaks shown in the films suggest places farther west. Indeed, the movies were filmed in Colorado and New Mexico, but pursuing outlaws in post-Civil War Indian Territory, as the main characters are portrayed as doing in “True Grit,” w

Susan Dragoo

Susan Dragoo in Trips

Ancient Wanderings: Hiking in the Ventana Wilderness

I collect hidden places of refuge in the wilderness. At least once a year I retreat to one of these havens to renew my spirit. These spots have a few things in common: They are off trail, deep in the wilderness, difficult to get to, and a delightful surprise when first discovered. And, when I am there, being alone feels exactly right. Deep within one of California’s coastal mountain ranges in the Ventana Wilderness, one such location is a sandstone cave at the base of a large rock outcroppi

George Graybill

George Graybill in Trips

Solitude in the Sapphire Mountains of Montana

I’ve always placed a premium on solitude when planning my outdoor activities and, with some planning and luck, have never found it to be particularly difficult to obtain. However, with trails across the country being more crowded than ever the past few years, it’s taken a bit more effort even in sparsely populated western Montana to have that lake, peak, or meadow all to yourself. Fortunately, with a bit of flexibility and research I was able to turn a short-notice opportunity for an overnight t

Mark Wetherington

Mark Wetherington in Trips

Shenandoah National Park: Hiking Back East for a Change

It’s almost as if the Pacific Ocean is a magnet, pulling me west each time I venture out to explore. While I take full advantage of the natural wonders offered by my home region in the central U.S., if I am traveling very far to hike, it is usually somewhere west of Oklahoma. As a result, I have hiked very little in the eastern United States, though I’ve managed to walk short sections of the Appalachian Trail on trips to Vermont and Maryland. Not much to brag about. Recently, I was in

Susan Dragoo

Susan Dragoo in Trips

Hiking, Biking, and Climbing to Three Fingers Lookout

We had been warned that the Three Fingers Lookout wasn’t for the faint of heart. But that didn’t take away from the shock of first seeing it. The hut was just a speck in the distance, perched precariously on a jagged spire of rock rising up above a crevasse-riddled glacier and a low sea of clouds. From our vantage, it seemed impossible that the wooden hut could balance there for another night, let alone that there would be a passable trail to reach it. My partner, Emily, and I had got

mgraw

mgraw in Trips

Hiking in Yosemite: Waterfalls and Winter Solitude

It's an early December afternoon in Yosemite National Park, and I'm watching a bobcat padding down the trail in front of me. In his mouth is a lifeless gray squirrel, so large that he drops it several times. He turns and surveys me with the lazy arrogance of a house cat who's proud of his kill. I'm unsure if I should be following this wild creature down the trail. I think of how animals are protective of their food. Still, the large cat and I are headed the same way, so I continue at a distance.

Allison Johnson

Allison Johnson in Trips

The Crossing: A Hike Across Olympic National Park

Chris, Randy and I sat at a local brewery, a map of Olympic National Park spread across the table. We had climbed in the Olympics for decades, but now we were attempting something different – a thru hike from one side of the park to another. You might have thought planning to cross using established routes would be simple, but it was proving anything but. “Even the freaking rain forest is on fire.” Chris traced a route with his finger. The Pacific Northwest was suffering through one of its

Doug Emory

Doug Emory in Trips

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