A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West By Steve Moreland When I set out

to catalog my 10 favorite hikes of the western United States and Canada, I thought it would be a breeze. “Oh yeah, I can think of my top 10 hikes in no time.” Well, it was a breeze, in fact. In a matter of minutes, I had my top 18! But the title of this article is “A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West.” The hard part came in eliminating eight from the list. It’s kind of like deciding which finger to cut off. No matter which one you choose, it’s painful and you’ll be missing something that’s a vital part of you. But that’s what good authors are supposed to do right? Edit with the reader in mind. So I’ll do my best. How did I decide which fingers to cut off? I considered things like fantastic scenery, uniqueness, opportunities to spot wildlife, and distance to some extent. But this was far from a scientific exercise. The main factor was emotional – which ones make my spirit soar? All of the hikes on this list did just that. A note on wildlife-spotting opportunities: On pretty much every trail I’ve hiked out west, I’ve encountered the ubiquitous chipmunks, squirrels, ravens and other birds. On most of the trails, it’s possible that you will spot deer, moose, elk, pikas, and even bears.

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A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West

MY TOP 10 HIKES OF THE WEST (In no particular order)
Garnet Canyon Trail Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming • • • • • • • Strenuous 10 miles roundtrip 2300’ elevation gain Views of Jackson Hole Exposed sections of trail on mountainside Boulder fields to hike through Beautiful stream at mile 5

Observation Point Trail Zion National Park, Utah • • • • • Very Strenuous 8 miles roundtrip 2230’ elevation gain Precipitous cliff edges Echo Canyon (2 miles in) is Creation’s Cathedral (If this isn’t a spiritual experience for you, you have to be dead inside). Gorgeous sandstone cliffs Magnificent view of Zion Canyon Beautiful spring flowers and autumn color

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A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West Navajo / Queens Garden Loop Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah • • • • • • • Moderate 4 mile loop 580’ elevation loss Steep descent on first part of trail from Sunset Point Deep canyon of Wall Street Gorgeous red sandstone Thousands of hoodoos (absolutely magnificent in snow)

Iceberg Lake Trail Glacier National Park, Montana • • • • • Moderate 1200’ elevation gain 9.6 miles roundtrip Beautiful hike through some forest and hillsides Iceberg Lake’s mesmerizing turquoise color seems unreal

Multnomah Falls / Wahkeena Falls Loop Columbia Gorge National Recreation Area, Oregon • • • • • • Strenuous 6.4-mile loop 800’ elevation gain (mostly in the first mile) Gorgeous streams Several waterfalls Thick forest

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A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West Crypt Lake Trail Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada • Very Strenuous • 11.2 miles roundtrip • 2300’ elevation gain • Must take boat to trail head and you must be back down by 5:00pm to catch the boat for the return trip. • Hike through beautiful forest • Rewarding gorgeous lake at the end of the trail • Small lakes on the way up • Waterfalls • Precarious trail on very steep talus slope, • Tunnel to crawl through • Chains for balance

Little Wild Horse Canyon Emery County, Utah • • • • • • • • Moderate 4 miles roundtrip Slight elevation gain Narrow slot canyon Fantastic patterns carved by water into the soft sandstone Changing colors, depending on the time of day Countless photo ops May have to wade through water in some of the narrow sections

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A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West

Double O Arch Trail Arches National Park, Utah • • • • • • • Moderate 5.2 miles roundtrip 380’ elevation gain Large rock fin to hike over (deep drop-offs) Steep rock face to negotiate (small indentions for footholds) Water in small basin to negotiate, if it’s rained recently Several arches on this trail: Landscape Arch, Window Arch, Private Arch, Double O Arch

Geraldine Lakes Trail Jasper National Park, Alberta
• • • • • • Strenuous 6 miles roundtrip 1000’ elevation gain Beautiful lake Forests Large boulder field (about 1 mile in length) to navigate using rock cairns to find your way Gorgeous waterfall at the end of the trail

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A Hiker’s Top 10 Treks Of The West

Sipapu Bridge/Kachina Bridge Loop Natural Bridges National Monument
• • • • • • • • Strenuous 5.4 mile loop 500’ elevation loss Slick rock Switchbacks Steep stairs with handrails Massive natural bridges Sections into and out of the canyon are challenging, but a lot of fun

YOU CAN DO IT!
Whether you’re in tip-top physical shape or it’s been a long time since you’ve exercised, with a little determination, you can do any of these trails. I by no means, am a picture of fitness. I carry more weight than I should and I live in an area that’s only 500 feet above sea level. Most of these trails are in the 6000’ to 10,000’ range and there’s less oxygen than I’m used to, but I can do it. And I believe you can, too. Just go at your own pace and take a rest when you need it.

FREEDOM
Just writing about these places again, I can feel what it’s like to be in the Great Outdoors. Besides my criteria of uniqueness, wildlife opportunities, etc., I think what I like the most about hiking is the sense of freedom. Humans were meant to be free. And hiking one of these great trails of western North America, you get a great sense of freedom – like it was meant to be. Steve Moreland is a writer that travels to many interesting and diverse locations, mostly in the western United States and Canada. Steve’s passion is hiking, enjoying the wildlife and landscape in the different areas, and writing about them. In addition to being a professional course designer and instructor, Steve is President of The Mall Pages, LLC, a company that publishes a comprehensive guide to mall shopping in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area.

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