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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.
SECRET TRAILS
Disappear on these unknown hikes.

Pine Ridge Trail, NE
Hike through America's most surprising forest.

Even Nebraskans assume corn and grasslands dominate the state, so the panhandle's Pine Ridge surprises everyone with its tall ponderosas. Sample it on a 12.5-mile stretch of the Pine Ridge Trail. From East Ash trailhead, climb to a high meadow before dropping down to the forested headwaters of Cunningham Creek. Camp just downstream, among a stand of bur oaks. Next day, hike east to the Roberts Loop Trail, a side trip overlooking amber-colored sandstone formations. Continue east past Turkey Track Spring, scale a pine-topped ridge, and finish at the Coffee Mill trailhead.
Info (308) 432-0300

Mt. Edgecumbe Trail, AK
The U.S. Forest Service spent more than one million dollars to build this seven-mile trail up 3,021-foot Mt. Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano off the Sitka coast. But since the trail's completion in 2003, it's seen precious few hikers–mostly because reaching the trailhead requires a half-day paddle or 30-minute boat shuttle to Kruzof Island. Land at Fred's Creek Cabin (reserveusa.com) and climb through a patchwork of forest and muskeg–prime bear and deer habitat. From the volcano's bare cinder cone, gaze out over the Pacific and the peaks of Baranof Island. Return to the cabin or camp at the three-sided wooden shelter just off the trail, midway down.
Info fs.fed.us/r10/tongass; puffinsandwhales.com (for boat shuttle)

Comanche Bluff Trail, TX
You wouldn't expect recreational opportunities from the U.S. Armed Forces, so most hikers miss the Comanche Bluffs Trail near Austin. This 4.8-mile (one-way) path meanders alongside Granger Lake on land managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Fittingly, the trail's bridges put wooden planks to shame: 100-yard-long Hoxie Bridge, a quarter-mile from the trailhead, once spanned the San Gabriel River. Hike across prairie-covered hills and along the oak-lined lakeshore. The trail ends at the creekside Fox Bottom campsite, where pecan trees provide shade (and snacks, in November).
Info (512) 859-2668

Chadwell Gap Trail, VA
Closed for eight years due to private land issues, the 2.6-mile Chadwell Gap Trail reopened in April–and has barely been hiked. The path offers low-mileage access to the historic Hensley settlement atop Cumberland Mountain, and slices through a gorgeous corner of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, which straddles the Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee borders. Start on a packed-dirt trail and walk through jack-in-the-pulpit flowers that grow waist-high in summer. The route gets rockier as you climb, gaining 2,000 feet over two miles before intersecting with the Ridge Trail. From there, follow the faint, unofficial path northeast for a few hundred feet to a rock ledge affording stop-awhile views over the Powell Valley. Retrace your steps and hike one mile west, to Chadwell Gap at 3,385 feet, then on to the century-old Hensley cabins, built from massive, 40-foot chestnut logs. Retrace your steps, or camp among the oaks at Chadwell Gap (free permit required).
Info nps.gov/cuga

Klickitat Trail, WA
Each year, almost half of the 31-mile Klickitat Trail is closed from June through September–the height of hiking season–due to the risk of wildfires in the low-elevation terrain. Result: The 12.5-mile hike through Swale Canyon has literally dropped off the radar screen. Go in April, May, or October to hike this rail-trail segment through the steep-walled gorge. Hiking west from mile 28.5, you'll cross a railroad trestle (left) and spy Mt. Adams's gleaming glaciers in the distance before the grassy canyon walls rise to more than 1,000 feet above your head. In spring, swaths of yellow desert parsley and purple lupine decorate the hills. The easy grade makes for fast going–fit hikers can do the 25-mile out-and-back in a day–or turn around midcanyon.
Info klickitat-trail.org

Escape New York
Who would think to look for a quiet campsite in the shadow of skyscrapers? Apparently no one, which makes the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness–60 miles from Manhattan–a treasure. "You're guaranteed to find solitude hiking and camping in the wilderness," attests park ranger Joe Flynn. Hop a train from Jamaica Station to Patchogue and take the Watch Hill Ferry (May to October; 631-475-1665) to the visitor center. From there, hike east into the seven-mile-long wilderness, following the south shore's open beach. Look for carnivorous sundew plants, seals, and, in fall, migrating monarch butterflies. Camp on the beach (keeping close to the dunes) or inland among sparse pines that offer protection from sea breezes.
Info nps.gov/fiis




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Reader Rating: Star Star Star

READERS COMMENTS

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!

Ben
Oct 16, 2009

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

SPike
Oct 16, 2009

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

Ben
Oct 16, 2009

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

Brandon
Oct 15, 2009

What a selfish lot.

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

goober
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!

anonymous_2
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.

Steve
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) :)

Anonymous
Sep 26, 2009

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