Kate Siber December 28, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Praising Arizona - Page 5

Five Great Faskpacking Trails

Arizona Trail, Arizona

  • Length: 800+ miles
  • When: Spring and fall.
  • Why: Unlike trails that traverse a single mountain range, the AZT, about 94-percent complete, runs through diverse ecosystems, like mile-deep canyons, grasslands, Sonoran desert with statuesque saguaro cactuses, conifer-and-aspen forests and alpine peaks. Some sections still require route-finding skills, and the trail can easily be divided into shorter sections.
  • Resources: Arizona Trail: The Official Guide, by Tom Lorang Jones and the Arizona Trail Association, has directions and info on water points and campsites. The association's website (aztrail.org) has updated trail conditions and descriptions.

John Muir Trail, California

  • Length: 211 miles
  • When: Summer. September sees the fewest visitors—and mosquitoes.
  • Why: Worthy of any life list, the JMT connects Yosemite National Park with Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48. It runs through the Sierra's best hits— three national parks, two wilderness areas, 14,000-foot mountains, mile-deep canyons and towering forests. Plus, it has some of the sunniest weather of any mountain range, making it a favorite amongst fastpackers.
  • Resources: Consult the Guide to the John Muir Trail, by Thomas Winnett and Kathy Morey, for beta on permits, shuttles and resupply points. The Pacific Crest Trail Association (pcta.org) offers updates on trail conditions.

North Country Trail, Michigan

  • Length: 210 miles
  • When: Summer.
  • Why: The North Country Trail, when completed, will stretch over 4000 miles between New York and North Dakota, hitting seven states' boreal forests. The completed 210-mile section through Michigan's Upper Peninsula is arguably the most remote and scenic, winding through pine forests, the Porcupine Mountains, which have views over Lake Superior, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Spot ancient Native American settlements and the remains of pioneer homes along the way.
  • Resources: The North Country Trail Association has a complete copy of the trail's guidebook posted on its website (northcountrytrail.org). For updated conditions, contact the Hiawatha (fs.fed.us/r9/hiawatha) and Ottawa (fs.fed.us/r9/ottawa) national forests.

100-Mile Wilderness, Maine

  • Length: 100 miles
  • When: Late spring through fall. October's chill is worth the leaf-watching ops.
  • Why: The longest and most remote wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail is also its northernmost 100 miles. Bag it for a full immersion into the subtle beauty of northern New England, characterized by navy-blue ponds ensconced in pines, gushing waterfalls, granite peaks and an ample moose population.
  • Resources: The Maine Appalachian Trail Club (matc.org) sells a guidebook and maps.

Resurrection Pass Trail, Alaska

  • Length: 39 miles
  • When: Summer. July is the sweet spot between snow season and hunting season.
  • Why: Alaska has few trails, so the 38-mile Resurrection Pass Trail, which slices through the eastern Kenai Peninsula's snow-tipped peaks, wild blueberry fields and glaciated valleys, is the express route to the state's outsized wilderness. Bonus: eight trailside Forest Service cabins welcome weary fastpackers. Add about 30 more miles by linking the southern terminus of the trail with the Russian Lakes and Resurrection River trails, which lead to Seward on Prince William Sound.
  • Resources: The Forest Service's Chugach Ranger District (fs.fed.us/r10/chugach) has details on linking trails and conditions. Visit the national public lands reservation website (recreation.gov) to reserve cabins.


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