|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – April 2003
A definitive guide to the hottest, sweetest, looniest, and most colorful spots in the great outdoors.
Best Beach Hike
Lost Coast, CA
There are two kinds of Lost Coast hikers: those who get rain and those who don't. If you're one of the former, we feel your pain, having snorkel-hiked the trail ourselves. But take heart and try again--after all, an hour of sunshine here is worth a month of blue sky anywhere else. Head to the southern section (22 miles) for a roller-coaster hike that features secluded, wave-dashed coves, fields of secret springtime wildflowers, foggy redwood groves, and dazzling ocean views as regular as the tide. The northern section (24 miles) is for beach lovers, with only seals for company; it's a remote break for surf-packers that offers a chance to see bear prints in the sand. Too good to be true? Nope, just thank the quad-burning terrain that thwarted early road builders and protects you from the hordes who would be here if it weren't, well, the Lost Coast.
Devil's Path, Catskills, NY
That's right, the Catskills. But before you scoff, do the math: 26 miles, 7 peaks, and 18,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. To conquer the Devil in a day, you'll need a light pack, strong legs, and a predawn start. That and an insatiable hunger for all the killer vistas you'll see along the way.
Top Spot To Do The Wild Thing
Denali National Park, AK
Screw Virginia. Alaska is the place for lovers. We especially like Denali, where the tundra is soft and your nearest neighbors are days (and decibels) away. Bears, wolves, and caribou, not to mention 6 million acres of untracked wilderness, will help you get in touch with your primal side. Plus, the visual Viagra kicks in with any view of the Big One (that's Mt. McKinley) rising in the soft pink light of dawn.
Coolest Rope Swing
Bass Lake, CA
There's no better way to recapture your childhood than to hurl your body into a crystal clear swimming hole. Our favorite place to launch into such nostalgia is Bass Lake, a cool gem in Point Reyes National Seashore near Bolinas. (Camp at nearby Wildcat Beach.) On some days, swimsuits are optional equipment, but be sure to bring an extra layer in case the fog rolls in. Geronimo!