From the Field: West

Explore the west coast in a whole new way with these five summer hikes.
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Explore the west coast in a whole new way with these five summer hikes.

Caribou Ridge, Idaho Panhandle NF, ID

Mike Gaertner Coeur d’Alene, ID

The Ironman Coeur d’Alene comes to town on June 24. Take advantage of empty trails and embrace a challenge of your own on this switchback-happy ascent of 4,439-foot Mt. Coeur d’Alene. “Some sidehilling is pretty steep,” Gaertner says. Climb 800 feet in two miles to glimpse the town’s eponymous lake, then continue through fir forest another 2.5 miles (1,500 additional vertical feet) to the summit before retracing your steps. Trip ID* 938482 “Lilies, buttercups, and thimbleberries bloom in June.”

Sea Lion Point Loop, Point Lobos SNR, CA

Dave Wachtel, Monterey, CA

Land meets sea in dramatic fashion along this short but action-packed .8-mile loop. You’ll see doe-eyed harbor seals lounging on the beach and hear a cacophony of barking sea lions on the rocks. And at Devil’s Cauldron, the mighty Pacific creates a churning whirlpool off the tip of the point: “The waves crash from all different directions,” says Wachtel. Extend your hike with the .8-mile Cypress Grove Trail from the same trailhead, or head to town for the longest-running wine festival in the state, in Monterey June 8-9. Trip ID 674158 “Dress in layers; it warms up as the fog burns off.”

Mosca Pass Trail, Great Sand Dunes NP, CO

Patrick Myers, Mosca, CO

Transition from desert to subalpine scenery (and find cooler ground) on this 6.8-mile out-and-back up chilly Mosca Creek to 9,713-foot Mosca Pass; at the top, take a .1-mile spur southeast for views of 14,345-foot Blanca Peak and to look for dwarfed, 1 ½-inch-long short-horned lizards in the rocky areas trailside. Return to the base of the dunes to splash in seasonal Medano Creek. Trip ID 14777 “A Model A truck that didn’t make it lies near the pass.”

Munra Point, Columbia River Gorge NSA, OR

Rick Johnson Newberg, OR

This lush, five-mile out-and-back to a three-pronged ridgeline packs a punch, climbing 1,800 vertical feet in less than a mile for a five-star panorama including the Columbia Gorge and 12,276-foot Mt. Adams, 40 miles away in Washington. “I think it’s the best vista in the area, which is saying something considering the countless viewpoints here,” Johnson says. But it doesn’t come easy. Obstacles include a 12-foot rock wall (with good footholds) and a 40-foot inclined chute during summer’s dry season: “It can get very slick, and the dirt sections can get mucked up pretty fast.” Trip ID 274191 “Hike with a partner to spot you through the scramble.”

Mary Jane Falls Las Vegas, NV

Paul Cuni Las Vegas, NV

Escape the desert heat on this 3.5-mile out-and-back; it ascends above 9,000 feet just 45 miles north of Vegas. “Check the temperature in town, and subtract 30 degrees,” Cuni says. “That’s what you’ll find at Mary Jane.” To the left of the 50-foot falls (which flow as long as there’s snow on Mt. Charleston, usually through June), follow a footpath 100 yards to explore a limestone cave “the size of two bedrooms.” But keep an eye out for rockfall: Last June, a local hiker was injured when a pineapple-size rock tumbled from the cliffs near the falls and struck her head. Trip ID 299337 “Crowds thin in late afternoon.”