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Backpacker Magazine – June 2012

Top 3: Heavenly Hikes

No early bedtimes on these overnights; you'll want to stay up and enjoy unusually dark skies with clear views of summer's showiest celestial fireworks.

by: Melissa Gaskill

Continental Divide Trail, Gila NF, NM | South Rim, Big Bend NP, TX | Three Forks Loop, Monongahela NF, WV

Big Bend NP, TX
South Rim
Sleep with 2,000 night lights.
Big Bend is one of the world’s five Gold Tier International Dark Sky Parks, so expect impressive nights parkwide. But on the South Rim of the Chisos Mountains, the view is wide open, and the lights are all celestial: the near- est town is a Mexican village with no electricity. After dark, up to 2,000 stars shine bright enough to throw shadows. From the Chisos Basin trailhead, hike Laguna Meadow Trail 5.8 miles up 1,900 feet through oak, juniper, and piñon. Trace the rim of the Chisos, a 2,600-foot drop-off facing a jagged escarpment, and pick a campsite over- looking this wide-open darkness. Next morning, complete a 13.9-mile loop via the steep and scenic Boot Canyon and Pinnacles Trails. (432-477-2251, data

The way From Alpine, TX, go 99 miles on TX 118 S. Turn right on Basin Rd. and go 6.4 miles to the Chisos Basin trailhead, next to the ranger station.

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