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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Trip Finder: Northwest

Your favorite Northwest hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.

by: Jason D.B. Kauffman

Indian paintbrush on the Timberline Trail (Blaine Franger)
Indian paintbrush on the Timberline Trail (Blaine Franger)
Reader Expert Terence Lewis (Courtesy Photo)
Reader Expert Terence Lewis (Courtesy Photo)


DAYHIKES
WILDLIFE Indian Racetrack, WA
Native Americans gathered huckleberries and, yes, raced horses in this meadow on the western edge of Indian Heaven Wilderness. Even today, you can clearly see the racetrack where riders competed; it’s a long, straight rut in the middle of the meadow. Start the five-miler at Indian Racetrack trailhead, says Derek Pettie (above), and watch the forest fringes for elk, blacktail deer, and black bears (they like huckleberries, too). Peak berry season is mid-August to mid-September. fs.fed.us/gpnf

WATERFALLS Comet Falls-Van Trump Park, WA
With both a 300-foot waterfall to gape at and a summer wildflower explosion to linger over, you’ll want to budget plenty of downtime for this 5.8-mile round-trip in Mt. Rainier National Park. From the trailhead four miles east of Longmire (on the road to Paradise), climb two miles to thundering Comet Falls. Then continue up another thousand feet to bloom-filled Van Trump Park, where monkey flowers, avalanche lily, lupine, and glacial lilies thrive from mid-July to mid-August. nps.gov/mora

WILDFLOWERS Sauk Mountain, WA
This steep, 4.2-miler in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will leave you breathless in more ways than one, says Terence Lewis (above). From the trailhead on Sauk Mountain Road, scale switchbacks to the 5,330-foot summit, where Indian paintbrush, phlox, tiger lilies, and columbine turn the hillsides purple and orange in July. On clear days, enjoy a 360-degree view that encompasses the North Cascades, Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound, and the distant San Juan Islands. fs.fed.us/r6/mbs



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