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California Trails

Weekend Planner: Quick Escapes

Get big views and rack up long miles with these close-to-home adventures.

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Point Reyes, CA (Ethan Welty)

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Lake Edna, WA (Alan Bauer)

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Linville Gorge Wilderness, NC (Pat & Chuck Blackley)

Lake Edna, WA

Camp between larches and patches of purple heather (blooms in July) at this alpine lake, and then scramble up Icicle Ridge. The 11.4-mile out-and-back is three hours northwest of Seattle. Map: backpacker.com/hikes/265863

Point Reyes, CA
The 10.8-mile Wildcat Loop–just an hour north of San Francisco–skirts seaside waterfalls and cliffs and passes several swim-worthy lakes. Look for migrating gray whales offshore. Map: backpacker.com/hikes/35009

Ramsey Draft Wilderness, VA
Hike through rare stands of virgin hemlock and tulip poplar on this 16.5-mile loop. Make several creek crossings en route to Hardscrabble and Tearjacket Knobs. It’s all just three hours southwest of D.C. Map: backpacker.com/hikes/375561

Linville Gorge Wilderness, NC

The rugged rim-to-river trails in this 11,700-acre park keep crowds away. Expect empty campsites and plenty of bear and deer sightings–all just two hours west of Winston-Salem. Map: backpacker.com/hikes/375356

Rawah Wilderness, CO

This under-the-radar Rockies park is just a couple of hours from Denver. Take the North Fork and Camp Lakes Trails on a loop of 20 miles, with detours including 12,644-foot South Rawah Peak. Map: backpacker.com/hikes/375560

Pecos Wilderness, NM

This 23-mile lollipop loop circles 10,785-foot Cerrito del Padre, in the wild heart of the Pecos, less than two hours north of Albuquerque. The mountain route requires advanced navigation skills. Map: backpacker.com/hikes/55418

Beech Creek, OK
Expect black bear, deer, armadillos, and one of the westernmost stands of American beech on an 11-mile loop near Big Cedar. Link Turkey Snout, Beech Creek, and Walnut Mountain Trails. Map: backpacker
.com/hikes/375562

Carter-Moriah Range, NH
Connect six peaks and two passes–and stay in a stone hut that serves hot food–on this 15.5-miler. The routes ascends the Imp and Carter trails and descends Nineteenmile Brook Trail. Map: backpacker.com/hikes/375558