Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Minong Ridge barely tops 1,000 feet above sea level, yet it soars above the trees for long stretches, offering uninterrupted views of Lake Superior and Canada. It’s surprisingly rugged, bouncing up and down more than a car with bad shocks. The Minong Ridge Trail runs about 30 miles from McCargoe Cove to Washington Harbor (both trailheads are reached by ferry) and can be hiked in 4 to 5 days. Connecting trails permit loops of up to 2 weeks. More information: Isle Royale National Park, (906) 482-0984; www.nps.gov/isro. Isle Royale National Park #240 map (Trails Illustrated, 800-962-1643; www.trailsillustrated.com; $9.95).
Continental Divide Trail (CDT)
Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado
A traverse of Colorado’s largest wilderness epitomizes my dream ridge hike. From Stony Pass to Wolf Creek Pass, the CDT travels nearly 95 miles and ascends a cumulative 16,000 feet—without crossing a road. It rarely dips below 12,000 feet, and it roams as far as 15 miles from the nearest trailhead. More information: Columbine Ranger District, San Juan National Forest, (970) 884-2512; www.fs.fed.us/r2/sanjuan. Colorado’s Continental Divide Trail: The Official Guide, by Tom Lorang Jones (Westcliffe Publishers, 800-523-3692; $24.95). Weminuche Wilderness #140 map (Trails Illustrated, 800-962-1643; www.trailsillustrated.com; $9.95). “One Step From Heaven,” October 1999.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
Many ridgetops in the North Cascades cannot be reached without a rope, which makes the nontechnical walk along Copper Ridge so special. Views of Mt. Shuksan, the wild Picket Range, and peaks in British Columbia are almost continuous for its 6-mile length. Trip options include the 20-mile, out-and-back hike to Copper Mountain Lookout, a 34-mile loop returning on the Chilliwack River Trail, or combining that loop with a 1-day side trip up spectacular Easy Ridge. More information: Glacier Public Service Center, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, (360) 599-2714. North Cascades National Park, (360) 856-5700; www.nps.gov/noca. 100 Hikes in Washington’s North Cascades National Park Region, by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning (The Mountaineers, 800-553-4453; $16.95). Mt. Shuksan #14 and Mt. Challenger #15 maps (Green Trails, 206-546-6277; www.gtrails.com; $3.60 each).
Deer Park to Grand Pass
Olympic National Park, Washington
The Grand Ridge and Grand Pass Trails connect two broad ridges, broken only by the beautiful Grand Valley, for 13 miles of high-country strolling. Views of the Olympics, mountains that appear twice as big as their actual elevations, are stunning. Return to Deer Park either via Cameron Creek for a 27-mile loop or, for a trip of about 40 miles, hike through three passes—Cameron, Lost, and Gray Wolf—and return via the Upper Graywolf and Three Forks Trails. More information: Olympic National Park, (360) 565-3130; www.nps.gov/olym. Olympic Mountains Trail Guide, by Robert L. Wood (The Mountaineers, 800-553-4453; $18.95). Olympic National Park #216 map (Trails Illustrated, 800-962-1643; www.trailsillustrated.com; $9.95).