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Top 3 Perfect Substitute National Forests

Get national park-caliber scenery without crowds (or entry fees!) in these dead ringers for Great Smoky Mountains, Zion, and Yosemite.
august 09 top 3 dixie nf 445x260Dixie NF, UT (Whit Richardson)

TOIYABE-HUMBOLDT NF, CA
Climb into the Sierra Nevada’s quiet side.
Just north of Yosemite National Park’s RV-lined roads, the nine-mile Buckeye
Trail sneaks into a tight gorge between the Flatiron and Buckeye ridges on the
park’s northern boundary. You’ll trek from sage-dotted flatlands into pine forests
for 2.5 miles and rise to a view of 11,000-foot granite peaks leading into the
park. At mile four, you’ll come to the first of five creek crossings. Meadows
of knee-high Indian paintbrush bordered by aspen stands lie between each stream.
Four miles past the last crossing, you’ll reach a talus slide called The Roughs.
Boulder-hop along a marked path half a mile to reach 9,650-foot Buckeye Pass,
with views into five Yosemite canyons.

Refuel
Head to Rhino’s Bar & Grill in Bridgeport for a fiery hot Nitro burger.
(760) 932-7345

The Way
From Bridgeport, take Twin Lakes Rd. seven miles to FS 017. Turn right and go
three miles to a left into Buckeye Creek Campground. The trailhead is in the
last camp loop.

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