Local Hikes: Mountain West

Hike these long trails in Montana, Idaho, Arizona, and Colorado, and raft an eight-mile section of the Arkansas River.
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Hike these long trails in Montana, Idaho, Arizona, and Colorado, and raft an eight-mile section of the Arkansas River.

MONTANA

Continental Divide Trail (Print & Go)

Belly River

With low altitude yet big relief, this route in Glacier National Park’s little-visited northeast corner makes a great hike in late May, when much of the 3,100-mile CDT is still choked with snow. A 22.9-mile lollipop loop in the Belly River Valley cuts through beargrass-filled meadows and passes misty waterfalls to a campsite overlooking Elizabeth Lake. Trip ID 506599

IDAHO

Idaho Centennial Trail

Stanley Lake to Redfish Lake

Take this 22.5-mile scenic detour near the 900-mile ICT to access multiple scrambles up Sawtooth spires. Got spine? A scoured bedrock saddle between Williams and Thompson Peaks offers scenic but exposed camping. Trip ID 617278

WYOMING

Continental Divide Trail

Shoshone Lake to Lewis Lake

Link two expansive lakes on an 11.1-mile loop through Yellowstone’s lush meadows and lodgepole forests. At mile 4.5, descend to a narrow beach on 80,000-acre Shoshone Lake—the biggest backcountry lake in the Lower 48. A mile later, watch for bald eagles, elk, and moose along the Lewis Channel. Skirt the northern shores of Lewis Lake to close the loop.Trip ID333321

COLORADO

Colorado Trail


Stony Pass to Celebration Lake

The very best section of the 483-mile Colorado Trail lies along this 40-mile San Juans stunner. The sky-high trailhead starts at 12,500 feet and crosses crag-topped tundra before dropping past hidden waterfalls into the Animas River Valley, where the conical, 13,000-foot Grenadier peaks tower overhead. Catch the perfect postcard shot (pictured) near mile 15.4. Trip ID536991



ARIZONA

Tucson


San Pedro River

Look out, birdwatchers: The riparian zones nourished by the San Pedro River host critical habitat for more than 350 species of local and migrant fowl—including 36 raptors. After closing this 2.2-mile loop, hike three more miles to tent at Miller Backcountry Camp, says map contributor Melissa Gaskill, and wake up to a morning chorus. Trip ID680780


SEE THIS NOW

RAFT THE ARKANSAS

Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, CO

Payoff Call it Splash Mountain for grown-ups: In the eight-mile section through Browns Canyon, the Arkansas River’s class IV whitewater tumbles between 200-foot walls of sculpted granite topped by ponderosa and piñon pines, and visited by mountain lions and bighorns.

Time Though river flow is snowpack- and weather-dependent, runoff from the high country’s 25 feet of average annual snowfall begins fueling the Arkansas in May. The river usually peaks at 4,500 cubic feet per second in early- to mid-June, following a few consecutive nights of above-freezing temps in the higher elevations.

Place Put in at Ruby Mountain launch near Buena Vista for an 11-mile run through famed rapids like Zoom Flume and Seidel’s Suckhole (get DIY tips on page 49 or hitch a commercial ride, $50-$90). Hydrophobic? Hike 2.5 miles upstream from Hecla Junction Campground along the water’s edge to watch rafters on Raft Ripper and Widowmaker. brownscanyon.org