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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Trip Finder: West

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

by: Laura Onstot

California's Lost Coast. (Ed Callaert)
California's Lost Coast. (Ed Callaert)
Death valley's Eureka Dunes. (Larry Carver)
Death valley's Eureka Dunes. (Larry Carver)
Reader expert Sara Benson. (courtesy)
Reader expert Sara Benson. (courtesy)


DAYHIKES

SHORE TRAILS Papakolea Beach Trail, HI
The four-mile, one-way trek to Papakolea Beach near Mauna Loa, on Hawaii’s Big Island, ends with a cliff scramble into the bowl-shaped beach—and a wide ocean view across green sand. “Seriously—green sand,” emphasizes Inga McFadden (above). The rare color is caused by the semi-precious mineral olivine, eroded from the volcano looming above the beach. Papakolea is one of only two green-sand beaches in U.S. territory—the other is in Guam.  (808) 974-4250

ALL-STAR GEOLOGY Eureka Dunes, CA
In 1994, Death Valley expanded to include Eureka Dunes, a bone-white sea of sand that rivals Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes as North America’s tallest. The rugged, remote South Eureka Road dead-ends at the parking lot. Blaze a trail 680 feet up the highest dune, and listen for “singing sand”—a bass-note boom that happens when sand avalanches off the highest dunes. “I’ll never forget the sound of that sand,” says Jason Krantz, of Sacramento, California. nps.gov/deva

MONSTER FLORA Mt. Pipiwai Trail, HI
The four-mile, round-trip Pipiwai Trail in Maui’s Haleakala National Park travels through dense, pristine rainforest dotted with waterfalls pouring into clear swimming pools. Hike over the roots of an enormous banyan, past tulip trees sprouting bright yellow and orange blossoms, and through an eerie bamboo forest before ending at Waimoku Falls, which pours 400 feet down a black-lava rock face. Take a dip, but wear shoes, says Brian Abeyta of Denver: Sharp, slick lava surrounds the thigh-deep pool. nps.gov/hale



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