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June 2001

Mountains: The World At Your Feet

High above the trees you'll find the hike of your dreams: a ridgeline trail where your only companion is an occasional mountain goat.

Razor’s Edge  Higher Risk

Mt. Katahdin

Baxter State Park, Maine

Scampering over three rock buttresses known as the Cathedrals and the mile-long Knife Edge, this 9.3-mile hike across Maine’s highest peak may be the airiest in the Northeast. The route follows trails all the way: the Chimney Pond, Cathedral, Saddle, Knife Edge, and Helon Taylor Trails. More information: Baxter State Park, (207) 723-5140. New England Hiking, by Michael Lanza (Avalon Travel Publishing; $18.95). Baxter State Park and Katahdin map (DeLorme, 800-452-5931;; $4.95).

Mt. Jefferson

Presidential Range, New Hampshire

The Castle Trail rises above dense forest and traverses a series of three “castles,” or rocky towers, along a narrow, quarter-mile section of the Castellated Ridge on the way to Jefferson’s summit. More information: Appalachian Mountain Club, (603) 466-2721; White Mountain Guide: Hiking Trails in the White Mountain National Forest, edited by Gene Daniell and Jon Burroughs (Appalachian Mountain Club, 800-262-4455; $21.95). New England Hiking, by Michael Lanza (Avalon Travel Publishing; $18.95).

Lone Eagle Peak

Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado

The nontechnical south ridge of this 11,920-footer narrows to just a few feet wide, with precipitous drop-offs and spine-tingling views of Colorado’s rugged Front Range. From Monarch Lake, the Cascade Creek Trail leads 9 miles to Crater Lake, at 10,500 feet; scramble to the ridge and then to the summit. More information: Boulder Ranger District, Arapaho National Forest, (303) 444-6600; Guide to the Colorado Mountains, edited by Randy Jacobs with Robert M. Ormes (Colorado Mountain Club Press, 303-279-3080; $18.95).

Capitol Peak

Elk Mountains, Colorado

A 100-foot-long, exposed knife-edge is the highlight of more than a mile of serious scrambling along the northeast ridge of Capitol Peak. If that’s not enough, feast your eyes on the panoramic view of the incomparable Elk range, with a half-dozen 14,000-foot peaks. From the Capitol Creek trailhead, go 13 miles by trail to Capitol Lake, then 4 miles off trail. More information: Aspen Ranger District, White River National Forest, (970) 925-3445; Colorado’s Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs, by Gerry Roach (Fulcrum Publishing, 800-992-2908; $18.95). Maroon Bells, Redstone, Marble #128 map (Trails Illustrated, 800-962-1643;; $9.95).

Clouds Rest

Yosemite National Park, California

The final 300 yards of trail over the northeast ridge of Clouds Rest get mighty skinny, with drop-offs of 1,000 feet on one side, 4,500 feet on the other, and a sea of Sierra Nevada rising in every direction. It’s 7 miles from the Tenaya Lake trailhead, with several multiday loops possible. More information: Yosemite National Park, (209) 372-0200; Yosemite National Park: A Natural-History Guide to Yosemite and Its Trails, by Jeffrey P. Schaffer (Wilderness Press, 800-443-7227; $18.95). Yosemite National Park #206 map (Trails Illustrated, 800-962-1643;; $9.95).

Pigeon Spire

Bugaboo Provincial Park, British Columbia

The west ridge is a wildly exposed and incredibly scenic rock climb or scramble. Along the way, you’ll straddle the granite crest, your feet dangling a couple thousand feet off the ground. Technical climbing skills and gear required. More information: British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Lands, and Parks, (250) 422-4200; Bugaboo Rock: A Climber’s Guide, by Randall Green and Joe Bensen (The Mountaineers, 800-553-4453; $16.95). Canadian National Topographic System maps Howser Creek (82K/10) and Bugaboo Creek (82K/15; Centre for Topographic Information, 800-465-6277; http://maps.; CDN $9.95 each).

Mt. Pugh

North Cascades, Washington

A maintained trail ascends nearly 4 miles to Stujack Pass, and then it’s an airy scramble for 1.5 miles to Pugh’s 7,201-foot summit. Your reward is sweeping views of the serrated and glaciated North Cascades. More information: Darrington Ranger District, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, (360) 436-1155; 100 Classic Hikes in Washington: North Cascades, Olympics, Mt. Rainier & South Cascades, Alpine Lakes, Glacier Peak, by Ira Spring and Harvey Manning (The Mountaineers, 800-553-4453; $19.95). Sloan Peak #111 map (Green Trails, 206-546-6277;; $3.60 each).

All guidebooks are available at

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