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Backpacker Magazine – November 2011

Local Hikes: Extend Your Season

Cooler days mean fewer crowds and bugs—and riots of leafy color. Here are 38 fall-weekend classics near you.

by: Sarah Stewart

View from First Peak one hour from Albany (Tim Seaver)
View from First Peak one hour from Albany (Tim Seaver)
Providence Canyon near Atlanta (Paul Rezendes)
Providence Canyon near Atlanta (Paul Rezendes)
Columbia River Gorge near Portland, OR (Tomas Kaspar)
Columbia River Gorge near Portland, OR (Tomas Kaspar)
Bring bug spray to Barr Lake near Denver. (Eric Tyler)
Bring bug spray to Barr Lake near Denver. (Eric Tyler)
Views from the Deseret Peak hike near SLC (Austin Cronnelly)
Views from the Deseret Peak hike near SLC (Austin Cronnelly)
Potomac River outside Washington, D.C. (Scott Mansfield)
Potomac River outside Washington, D.C. (Scott Mansfield)

Oklahoma City, OK
Watonga Lake North Loop

Eastern red cedar, prickly pear cactus, and knee-high prairie grasses line this 4.9-mile circuit around a 55-acre trout and bass-filled lake in Roman Nose State Park. Trip ID 26451

Portland, OR
Rock of Ages

The massive flood that carved the Columbia River Gorge 15,000 years ago left behind one of the world’s highest concentrations of waterfalls. This 8.8-mile loop showcases four (each more than 100 feet tall).
Trip ID 251760

Portland, OR
Champoeg Park Loop
Watch for Western bluebirds hunting insects from their tree-cavity nests on this 6.6-mile Willamette River trek. Bonus: See Champoeg, a 19th-century ghost town. An 1861 flood destroyed all but two saloons. Trip ID 8289

Salt Lake City, UT
Deseret Peak Loop

The summit of this 11,031-foot alpine island offers 100-mile views across northern Utah—payoff for a 4.3-mile, 3,600-foot ascent. Trip ID 31797

Santa Fe, NM
Valle Vidal

Spend a long weekend looping 28.4 miles among the creeks, peaks, and meadows of this remote, 100,000-acre home to black bear and the state’s largest elk herd. Trip ID 409902

Seattle, WA 
Naneum Creek Meadows Loop

Savor evergreen-dotted meadows, grizzled basalt cliffs, and rushing creeks on this 9.6-mile route on the eastern edge of the Cascades. The seldom-steep trail never tops 5,800 feet, yet it yields impressive mountain and canyon views and ample opportunity to spot bear, elk, and hawks. Trip ID 334921

Seattle, WA
River Delta Loop
Ducks, herons, and dozens of bald eagles thrive along this 5.6-mile stroll in a marshy Puget Sound wildlife refuge. Trip ID 8379

St. Louis, MO
Walkers Island

Hike 3.8 miles around this narrow peninsula jutting into Horseshoe Lake—an abandoned oxbow of the Mississippi River—to visit an unlikely haven for white-tailed deer just 10 miles from the Gateway Arch. Trip ID 330391

Tallahassee, FL
Marsh Island Trail to Sandhill Trail

Venture into Florida’s salt marshes, palmetto-oak hammocks, and pristine Gulf coastline on this 9.5-mile loop through Econfina River State Park, a 4,543-acre sanctuary for black bears, bobcats, and manatees. Trip ID 7757

Washington, D.C.
Great Falls Loop

Half-day special: On this 4.6-mile jaunt, you’ll parallel the Potomac as it plunges through a rocky gorge cut into the Virginia-Maryland border 10,000 years ago. Trip ID 47070

*Trip ID: Get free maps and GPS data by adding the Trip ID to

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