Gila National Forest, NM – 2 Days
Follow the aptly named Catwalk Trail down the mile-long, elevated steel walkway from Whitewater Picnic Ground through a volcanic canyon. After a mile, it widens to reveal sycamore and cottonwood groves lining Whitewater Creek, a popular rainbow trout fishing spot. Several shaded campsites surround the Deloche-Winn Canyon Trail junction, just upstream, 2.3 miles from the trailhead. Watch for rattlesnakes sunning themselves. www2.srs.fs.fed.us/r3/gila
Canyonlands National Park, UT – 3 Days
Hit the 30.7-mile Golden Stairs and Sweet Alice Loop in the Maze District for an ambitious, insiders-only trek through hidden grottos and redrock pinnacles on a, well, maze of faint trails. Start from the Golden Stairs trailhead (4WD only), and hike along the Standing Rock jeep road to Mother and Child Pinnacles. Then head east through Sweet Alice Canyon. For photos and a track log, go to backpacker.com/canyonlands.
Grand Canyon, AZ – 4 Days
In April, spring temps in the Big Ditch are moderate and rainfall averages only an inch. And summer crowds are still months away. Combine the New Hance and Grandview Trails for 24 rough miles of solitude and breathtaking canyon scenery, including Horseshoe Mesa and Cottonwood Creek. The route is unmaintained but easy to follow; campsites have water sources. nps.gov/grca