SUBSCRIBE | NEWSLETTERS | MAPS | VIDEOS | BLOGS | MARKETPLACE | CONTESTS
TRY BACKPACKER FREE!
SUBSCRIBE NOW and get
2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Backpacker Magazine – October 2011

Perfect 10: North America's 10 Most Memorable Hikes

Ten trails. Ten unmatched miles each. Get maximum bang for each boot step on hikes that our most-traveled contributors call their all-time favorites.

by: BACKPACKER Contributors and Editors

The Lost Coast, Sinkyone Wilderness SP
Photo by BP1011PERFECT_Callaert_S75ElkLostCoast_445x260.jpg
The Lost Coast, Sinkyone Wilderness SP
Skyline Trail, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Skyline Trail, Jasper National Park, Alberta
The Jewels Route, Grand Canyon NP
The Jewels Route, Grand Canyon NP
Mt. Eielson, Denali National Park
Mt. Eielson, Denali National Park
Titcomb Basin Trail, Wind River Range, WY
Titcomb Basin Trail, Wind River Range, WY

Take it With You
>>Download a printable PDF for every Perfect 10 Trip

MY 10
BACKPACKER asked some of the top personalities in the outdoor industry about their favorite slice of wilderness. Below are their picks.

Andrew Skurka
Ultra-hiker
>Ten Mile Range in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains

Joe Horiskey
Longtime guide on Mt. Rainier
> East Fork Quinault River Trail to Enchanted Valley in Olympic National Park

Brett Dennen
Rock star, camp counselor
> Pacific Crest Trail running 10 miles south from Sonora Pass

Jon Jarvis
Director of the National Park Service
> The Pacific Crest Trail from Rainy Pass, over McAlester Pass, and into Stehekin Valley. “You can hear Julie Andrews. These are the American Alps.”

Gary Erickson and Kit Crawford
Married co-CEOs of Clif Bar & Company
> Lyell Canyon Trail out of Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite

Tyler Stableford
Adventure photographer
> Franconia Ridge Trail loop in NH, up Falling Waters and down the Bridle Path

John Gans
Executive Director, NOLS
> Ice Lakes, Deep Creek Lakes, and Echo Lakes in the Wind River Range, WY

Les Stroud
Filmmaker and survivalist
> West Coast Trail in Vancouver, from Pachena Bay to Valencia Bluffs

Wayne Gregory
Founder of Gregory Packs
> North from Agnew Meadows, past 1000 Island Lake and over toward Lyell in the High Sierra

David Startzell
Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
> The AT from TN 143 to US 19E: “It’s 15 miles, but it’s so much fun, it feels like 10.”

Justin Lichter
Ultra-hiker
>The 10 miles surrounding Cataract Pass in the Canadian Rockies

Dana Watts
Executive Director, Leave No Trace
> Mesa Trail, Boulder, CO

Perfect 10: Black Angel Trail, White Mountain National Forest, NH
Sneak into a forgotten corner of the Northeast’s busiest forest.
—Larry Garland, as told to Courtney Holden
 
Like so many hikers, I hike to get away from it all. Unlike most, I get to do it for work, as a cartographer for the Appalachian Mountain Club. In 2005, I became a redliner: My task was to hike every trail—which appear as red lines on our maps—in the Whites. I’m one of only four people to have hiked every one of them, more than 1,400 miles in total.
 
This forest is crawling with myriad, damn-fine 10-mile stretches, but I say the best in the whole 794,000 acres is the Black Angel Trail. It’s the embodiment of what hiking, at least for me, is all about: isolation and solitude in nature’s undomesticated playground. The Black Angel Trail is best tackled as part of a 16.9-mile figure-eight loop from the Wild River Campground. At 2.6 miles in, you come to a river ford that the guidebook warns may be problematic for “people with short legs or heavy packs”—thankfully, I suffer from neither. Continue in a southwesterly direction, dodging the muddier sections as you follow the river up to its headwaters near the watershed divide and No Ketchum Pond (don’t bother bringing a fishing rod). You’re deep in federally sanctioned backcountry—wilderness with a capital “W” as we call it—so there are no paint blazes on trees to help you find your way. All of this creates a buffer that keeps the crowds away.
 
You can camp here at Perkin’s Shelter or push on, starting with a 1,500-foot, 2.5-mile climb to Carter Dome. On the Carter-Moriah Range, the nose of Carter Dome looks out to its mightier brother, Mt. Washington, and down on vistas over the Wild River Wilderness. If you’re sick for peace and quiet in the Northeast, what lies next is the prescription for you. Veer east to the Black Angel Trail, and drop off the ridge into a veritable no man’s land. 
 
The 3,100-foot descent down through birch glades inspires a contemplative spirit, so slow down as you stride from the virgin-timber realm of softwood pines and firs, then through sugar maples, birches, beech, and cherry trees. Do yourself a favor and go in early October for the best leaf-peeping of your life; you’ll be alone with your thoughts in an area of the wilderness overlooked by peakbaggers focused on the Presidentials.
  
PERFECT 10 Perkins Notch Shelter to Wild River Campground along the Black Angel Trail
>> 
DO IT Take US 2 to NH 113 S. After 3.5 miles, turn right onto Wild River Rd. After 5.7 miles, park at Wild River Campground. Take the Wild River Trail 7.6 miles to Perkins Notch, head right on Rainbow Trail for 2.5 miles, and opt right onto the Carter-Moriah Trail. In .4 miles, take the Black Angel Trail 7.1 miles to a junction and follow the Basin Trial two miles to the trailhead. 
MAP Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Map #5, Carter Range ($10, see Contact) 
CONTACT (617) 523-0630; outdoors.org



Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
City:
State:
Zip:
Email (req):

Reader Rating: -

READERS COMMENTS

Star Star Star Star Star
Conak
Jun 12, 2014

YES! I sadly live on the east coast now, and I always say the exact thing: too many trees! But no one ever agrees with me. Trees are nice, but there needs to be a changes to the scenery. Trees here, meadow there, rocks here, snow there. Variety. West is best. I've yet to make it out to Wyoming, but sounds like the place to be.

Bob
Nov 27, 2011

I just hikes it in Aug, awesome trail, but the Elliot river crossing is officialy closed, the high route mentioned is doable but hazardous, and at the White river the trail ends at a dropoff, you need to bushwack down hill about 150 feet, but the trail is not flagged. Still: awesome campsites, awesome views, and few hikers. definate 10.

Mike
Nov 17, 2011

Maybe a little dated. Along the east side of Mt. Hood the trail was wrecked by an avalanche several years ago and you will have to drop down very low or risk a high route to bypass it. Then, last summer, there was a large fire on the NNW side that burned a lot of the route.
This is not to say that it's still not a great trail, because it is. Just wanted to pass this on. Although the NNW side was closed as of the fall of 2011 and I don't know the plans for 2012.

Joe
Nov 17, 2011

I hiked through here a couple years ago and had an great time. We parked at Scales which is down a long bumpy dirt road. My pontiac Vibe barely made it through some parts. Got there at Midnight and hiked for hours under a full moon with no flashlight. The balds make for spectacular views. We only ran into people on the AT.

ADD A COMMENT

Your rating:
Your Name:

Comment:

My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

Trailhead Register
What Year Did You Get on the Information Highway?
Posted On: Jul 21, 2014
Submitted By: Ben2World
The Political Arena
Religion confuses children about fact and fiction
Posted On: Jul 21, 2014
Submitted By: Drift Woody
Go
View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site MyRockyMountainPark.com.

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
City:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
State:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions