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Backpacker Magazine – September 2009

Undiscovered Hikes: 19 New Trails

Hike these paths before the masses find them.

by: Kelly Bastone

Ring the Peak Trail, CO (Ben Fullerton)
Ring the Peak Trail, CO (Ben Fullerton)
Mountains-to-Sea Trail (Tim Seaver)
Mountains-to-Sea Trail (Tim Seaver)
Pine Ridge Trail, NE (Tom Till)
Pine Ridge Trail, NE (Tom Till)
Klickitat Trail, WA (Eli Boschetto)
Klickitat Trail, WA (Eli Boschetto)

Footprints Needed: Colorado's Undiscovered Black Canyon
Descend into Colorado's Black Canyon and explore a park that has everything–life-list scenery, challenging terrain, a revitalized river–except hikers.
America's biggest hikes get bigger.

Continental Divide Trail, CO
Go high on the CDT's new Stony Pass section.

The CDT used to sink down into the drainage bottoms along this 12-mile section between Stony Pass and Cataract Lake, but a reroute puts the trail high on the Divide, entirely above timberline–thus delivering epic views of the San Juan Mountains' sea of Thirteeners stretching from Lake City to Silverton. From Stony Pass at 12,588 feet, hike north to savor views of Sheep Mountain's gemlike orange rock framed by thick fields of rainbow-hued wildflowers; the blooms in Maggie Gulch grow waist-deep in summer. Peer down from the trail into the sweeping alpine basins to watch elk herds (often 100 to 200 strong) munch meadow grasses. Above Cuba Gulch the CDT jogs east, following the Divide to a rocky perch overlooking Cataract Lake.
Info (719) 658-2556

National Scenic Success
In March, President Obama signed a bill establishing three new National Scenic Trails and 22 new National Recreation Trails. The federal recognition brings resources and funding that should help organizers complete trail-building efforts. Info

  • Pacific Northwest This mountainous 1,200-mile path links the CDT with the Pacific Ocean.
  • Arizona Get a PDF with key water sources for this 817-mile trail from Mexico to Utah.
  • New England East Coast history and scenic hiking blend together on this 200-mile path.

Florida Trail, FL
Hike this new 20-mile segment east of Pensacola, opened just last year, and you might spot a rare ivory-billed woodpecker: Auburn University researchers have reported 14 sightings of this near-mythical bird along the nearby Choctawhatchee River. Start at Seven Runs trailhead and hike west along the hills bordering Lafayette Creek, threading through juvenile longleaf pines and along the root-braided edges of swamps for 7.5 miles. Pitch your tent among the cypress and magnolia trees at Forgotten Creek campsite. Day two, roll from the tops of ravines down to hardwood-shaded bottoms for eight miles to the Steep Head Ravine campsite, on the edge of the pines overlooking open meadows frequented by coyotes. Next morning, continue 3.7 miles to the unsigned trailhead at US 331.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail, NC
One of the newest segments of the MST allows hikers eastbound access to Linville Gorge, the deepest chasm in the East. The 14-mile route features spectacular views of Mt. Mitchell to the west and Lake James on the east end. Leave a car at Kisler Memorial Highway, on the west rim of Linville Gorge, then drive to Woodlawn Park and hike east, climbing 1,998-foot Bald Mountain and descending to the North Fork Catawba River. Cross it via a new 200-foot-long pedestrian bridge. Continue east, sweating up through a spruce forest to 3,500-foot Bald Knob: Soak in wide-open views of Table Rock, Hawksbill, and Grandfather Mountains, then head north around Dobson Knob for 1.2 miles to pitch your tent. Day two, descend two miles to Linville Gorge.

Superior Hiking Trail, MN
This northern long trail extended its eastern reach by 39 miles in 2007. The addition skirts Duluth, following the ridgeline above downtown, and allowing a sweet two-day escape into the Emerald City's surrounding wilds. Hike east from Jay Cooke State Park on a 19.5-mile segment through dense pines and open ridgetops providing views over Lake Superior. (For the best vista, take a spur trail at 7.8 miles and detour 300 feet to the grassy, 1,250-foot summit of Ely's Peak.) Then ramble on through old-growth oaks, sugar maples, and yellow birch to Spirit Mountain Recreation Area at mile 12; a half-mile spur trail leads to the campground (800-642-6377, Next day, hike 7.5 miles, bobbing between rocky outcroppings and ducking through a pedestrian tunnel beneath I-35 to the Skyline Parkway trailhead.

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star


Star Star Star
Camping Teen
Mar 04, 2013

Thanks for the new info but you have successfully ruined some of them though.

Star Star Star Star Star
AZ Hiker
Mar 01, 2013

Beautiful scenery minus the crowds means less chance of other hikers finding you if you need help but it can still be a safe and enjoyable hike. Why? Because you read Felix! the Sugar Glider Be Safe Hike Smart (Amazon) before you hit the trail. A MUST READ for hikers who love the secret trails! Learn essential day-hiking skills, including items to pack, how to navigate your way with and without a map or compass, and how to get rescued. Learn to stay found by using a compass and paying attention to your surroundings. A compass doesn't need a signal or batteries and works in all types of weather but you need to know how to use it and this book makes learning how to use a compass easy. Hike smart with this fast, easy read that could save your life and will definitely make hiking off the beaten path safer and more enjoyable!

Oct 16, 2009

Everyone deserves to hike the trails. Its the experience that becomes your own.

Oct 16, 2009

Are there no backpackers in Alabama?????????????

Oct 16, 2009

Everyone deserves to hike the trails. Its the experience that becomes your own.

Oct 15, 2009

What a selfish lot.

How about taking some time to educate and mentor those interested an less experienced?

Oct 15, 2009

Thanks for leaving Oregon alone. there are'nt any trails let alone new ones here.

Robert Mullin
Oct 15, 2009

Thank you for not listing any in Montana. I know there are not many that are not known by the masses in Montana, but there are a few.

lost & confused
Oct 15, 2009

why must "the masses" be informed of every hidden retreat and sanctuary? i personally am satisfied stumbling upon these places by sheer chance and determination.This announcement may very well be the ruin of many of these listed trails. thanks... thats awesome....

John Giesemann
Oct 05, 2009

Don't forget the Cumberland Trail, the newest state park in Tennessee. When complete, it will go from CHattanooga to Kentucky along the Cumberland Mountains. It has several miles now finished. It is a lovely trail that is generally moderate in nature. There are some beautiful falls and primarily mixed hardwoods along the trails. Several views of the Tennessee River and over gorges line this trail from one end to another. When complete, this trail will certainly add another dimension to the Tennessee mountain trails that will be hard to beat!

Oct 02, 2009

Not undiscovered just not well known but not any more.

Alan K
Oct 02, 2009

They are "discovered." Thanks Backpacker for "announcing" them. Yeah, thanks a lot.

Oct 01, 2009

Shhh! I'm searching out a new secret route to a wonderfully hidden spot near....... (I'll tell you later - I think the whole world is listening) :)

Sep 26, 2009


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