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Readers’ Choice 2012: Top 3 – West Hikes

The region's best picks from our top field correspondent, who's notched more than 1,800 trail miles throughout the West and mapped 116 trips.

{ LOCAL EXPERT }
Eli Boschetto
Portland, OR
“My coolest hiking achievement: completing a 130-mile section of the John Muir Trail—from Happy Isles to Muir Trail Ranch.”

{ DAY }
MT. RAINIER NP, WA
CLIMB A 7,402-FOOTER WITH GIANT VIEWS.
Washington’s signature 14,411-foot peak rises just five miles southwest of this route, and “you’ll get to stare it straight in the face,” crows Boschetto. Hike west on Glacier Basin Trail and fork left after a mile on Emmons Moraine Trail for a .8-mile side trip overlook- ing the 4.3-square-mile Emmons Glacier (largest in the Lower 48). At mile 3.2, keep straight for a 1.5-mile detour to Glacier Basin’s huckleberry-rich meadows (ripe in late sum- mer) and a lakelet mirroring 8,690-foot Mt. Ruth. Next, zigzag up Burroughs Mountain, crossing tundra bursting with subalpine lupine and magenta paintbrush in midsum- mer. Pause on 7,402-foot Second Burroughs at mile seven for larger-than-life views of Rainier’s northeast face before merging onto the Wonderland Trail for the 4.2-mile return descent. Contact nps.gov/mora Trip ID 1320252

THE WAY
From Enumclaw, go 38 miles on WA 410 E, then right on Sunrise Park Rd. In 5.3 miles, turn left on White River Rd. and drive 1.3 miles to White River Campground.

{ WEEKEND }
OLYMPIC NP, WA
CONNECT RAINFOREST WITH RIDGELINES.

Pack a week’s worth of classic Northwest scenery—coastal rainforest, glittering lakes, thundering falls, and toothy peaks—into just three days on this 23.1-mile loop. “You’ll be giddy from the sensory overload,” says Boschetto. Start at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and climb the cedar-lined Mink Lake Trail 2.4 miles to its namesake pool. Less than two miles later, crest the 4,000-foot Low Divide, then drop to Deer Lake for your first night’s camp. The next day, return to the ridgetop on Low Divide Trail, and trace it 2.5 miles to 5,474-foot Bogachiel Peak (with aerial views of Mt. Olympus and blue-green Lunch, Long, and Clear Lakes). Descend to a meadowy camp near Heart Lake. On day three, hike 6.5 miles to triple-branching Sol Duc Falls; it plunges 50 feet into a mossy gorge. Then go 2.8 miles to close the loop. Contact nps.gov/olym Trip ID 541758

THE WAY
From Port Angeles, drive 28 miles west on US 101. Turn left on Sol Duc Hot Springs Rd. Park at the resort in 12.1 miles.

{ MULTIDAY }
YOSEMITE NP, CA
SPEND A WEEK IN JOHN MUIR COUNTRY.

This 51-mile High Sierra circuit is Boschetto’s favorite weeklong route for good reason: “The Cathedral Range’s craggy granite, babbling streams, and prolific summer wildflowers serve up Yosemite’s high country at its finest.” From Tuolumne Meadows, hike six miles northwest on the Pacific Crest Trail to Glen Aulin Camp. Log 7.8 miles on day two, to a tent site backdropped by May Lake and Mt. Hoffmann. Day three: Descend to Tenaya Lake, ringed by Polly and Pywiack Domes, then switchback into Sunrise Lakes basin. Roughly two miles later, overnight at Sunrise Camp, where splashy penstemon accent the polished granite. Spend the fourth night near Merced Lake before climbing to Vogelsang Camp (alpenglow paints neighboring peaks in rosy hues at sunset). On the last day, skirt Fletcher and Evelyn Lakes; return via Lyell Canyon. Contact nps.gov/yose Trip ID 1336633

THE WAY
From San Francisco, take I-80 E to I-580 E to I-205 E to I-5 N to CA 120 E. Park in lot on Tuolumne Meadows Lodge Rd.

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