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Backpacker Magazine – October 2005

Top 3: Ridge Hikes

Live life on the edge as your dayhike three vertiginous ridges in Arizona, Vermont, and Colorado.

by: Annette McGivney and Lisa Densmore

There's nothing like getting lost, meeting a rutting moose, or walking the precipice of a steep, narrow ridge--the void yawning below--to make you feel alive outdoors. We can't help with the first two, but the high-wire hikes described below should get you plenty stoked about the third. Just remember: Sticky soles are a good thing.

©Richard Durnan

Vermilion Cliffs, AZ
Catch an edge in the high desert

The Hike
Don't let the California condors recently reintroduced here monopolize the bird's-eye views. Too many folks gawk at this 293,000-acre national monument's key geologic feature--a 30-mile long, 3,000-foot-high sheer sandstone escarpment--from below. Hike to the trailless top of the blood-red precipice for plane-window vantages of the sprawling Colorado Plateau (including the pastel Painted Desert); the Grand Canyon; and Escalante Country's monoliths. Bring water and binocs (20 raptor species nest here) for the 13-mile hike (requires a car shuttle) from One Toe Ridge east to Soap Creek Pasture. Use routefinding skills for drainages and piñon-juniper flats and the unsigned, 4WD access roads.

Wind Down
Vermilion Cliffs Bar and Grill's epic views go with 150 kinds of beer. (928) 355-2231

The Way
From US 89, go W on US 89A, then N on House Rock Road. Turn E on BLM 1017 and S on BLM 1108. (435) 688-3200

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