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Backpacker Magazine – May 2009

America's Best Day Hikes: West

Tick off these life list hikes in Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska.

by: Nancy Prichard Bouchard

Tunnel Falls, Eagle Creek Trails (Eli Boschetto)
Tunnel Falls, Eagle Creek Trails (Eli Boschetto)
Tall Trees Grove (David H. Collier)
Tall Trees Grove (David H. Collier)




Hoh River Trail, WA 18 miles (Difficult) Everything is simply bigger in Olympic National Park's Hoh Rainforest. With more than 12 feet of rain annually, the Hoh's Sitka spruce, cedar, and fir reach supersize heights, and even the gardens of moss and fern look like they benefit from Miracle-Gro. The nine-mile hike to the Olympus Guard Station (your turnaround point) is relatively gentle as the trail climbs gradually along its namesake river through a soggy haven that's home to northern spotted owls, giant banana slugs, and Roosevelt elk.
Season April-October

Indian River Trail, AK 11 miles (Moderate)
Trees, grizzlies, and even the views in this temperate rainforest are Alaska-scale: Sitka spruce top 200 feet, and yellow cedars and western hemlock are also XXL. Look for killer views of the Sisters Mountains at a grassy bog half of a mile in, then dive into the forest; you'll gain 700 feet in the last mile to reach 70-foot Indian River Falls (turn back here).
Season Year-round
Info (907) 225-3101

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star


Gary Karpowitz
Oct 07, 2011

Just finished a classic 55 mile loop in Yosemite. Highlighting the end was climbing Half Dome. Worth every step, epic views. Two clues, go early to beat the crowd and bring some gloves with a grip for the cables. Don't miss it.

Steve Cash
Feb 22, 2011

Is there any hike in the Pacific Northwest that makes for a 'less than a great day' hike? I can't think of any. That's like saying, which page of your favorite novel would you not read. They are all different and they all build on each other to make the story.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon
Dec 09, 2009

The Tall Trees Grove may not be a steep trail, but it is partially vigorous on the return. Probably takes two and a half times longer coming up than going down. The maples are incredibly nice too. That was one of my last hikes in November 2009.

M. D. Vaden of Oregon


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