Payoff How well do you know your neighborhood? If you close your eyes, you can probably visualize individual houses, the people who live there, trees overhanging certain yards. That’s how I see California’s Trinity Alps, a range I’ve crisscrossed again and again over the last 25 years. From above, I’ve ferreted out secret campsites with big views, off-trail routes, and at least one unnamed lake that’s unfailingly as private as my own backyard. —D. Lewon
Do it Traverse the Bailey Range in Olympic National Park. The route mostly follows an open ridge carpeted with columbine, lupine, and bluebells in midsummer (then blueberries by August). And it has the park’s best view of 7,965-foot Mt. Olympus, which gleams above the lush rainforest of the Hoh River Valley. Yet the range sees only a handful of parties annually, thanks to 12 miles of off-trail travel. The 44-mile, five-day hike links the Sol Duc River trailhead with the Elwha River/Whiskey Bend trailhead.