Along with two epic additions to our indomitable online database, we’re featuring an innovative species of trip report this week. Combining Google Earth technology with live video and a GPS-track-log, we've produce a comprehensive, cross-medium profile of the Grand Canyon’s Royal Arch Loop. The result is a veritable online guidebook and what we feel will be the future of online trip planning. Check out the flyover, a slide-show and Royal Arch’s full trip report here.
ROYAL ARCH LOOP: ARIZONA
In this lesser-traveled cranny of the legendary Grand Canyon, you’ll discover an oasis-like swimming hole, a gravity-defying natural arch, and some of the canyon’s most spectacular – and secluded – scenery. Throw in a highly-technical, 20-foot rock climb and the prospect of no water sources for two full days, and this 34-mile loop poses a formidable challenge for even the most experienced hikers.
FRANCONIA RIDGE: NEW HAMPSHIRE
Tucked in the heart of New Hampshire’s rugged White Mountains, this 8.2-mile loop traverses the jagged spine of the Franconia Ridge, spanning three 4,000-foot peaks along the way. Tracing the inimitable Appalachian Trail from Little Haystack Mountain to Mount Lafayette, Franconia’s combination of hardwood forests, exposed ridges, secluded waterfalls and awe-inspiring vistas render it a New England classic.
CASTLE ROCK: KANSAS
You don’t have to book it to Bryce or Arches National Park to grab ethereal views of fins, pinnacles, spires, bluffs and arches. Though Kansas may not be known for its stunning topography, the 2.3-mile Castle Rock loop tours an otherworldly wonderland of geographical features remnant of an ancient inland sea that once covered the area.
For more epic excursions, dive into the thousands of trips already mapped on our Destinations page. Otherwise, sit tight – we’ll satisfy your map cravings with more five-star hikes next week.
POST YOUR HIKE: Submit your trail reports and photos at backpacker.com/postatrip, and get a chance to see your trip appear in an issue of BACKPACKER magazine.
HAVE A TRIP YOU WANT MAPPED? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know what new trips you’d like to see added to our database.