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25 Great Walks

NEW ENGLAND EXTRAS Burnt Head Trail (Monhegan Island, Maine, 2 miles) The island is just a half-mile wide and 1.75 miles long, but a 17-mile warren of trails leads from the Village, its artsy community, to a jagged coastline. Grab a map in any Village shop. THE WALK Beginning at the Village, walk a leisurely three-quarters of a mile into a balsam fir forest to Burnt Head on the wild east side, where waves bash 160-foot cliffs and hordes of seabirds busy themselves finding lunch. Make your return loop by way of the landmark lighthouse, the island's highest point. Every morning, ferries to the island (800/298-2284 or 207/633-2284; $30) depart from Boothbay Harbor, 42 miles east of Freeport.

White Dot/White Cross Trails (Mount Monadnock, Jaffrey, New Hampshire, 4.4 miles) Freestanding Monadnock is the most-climbed mountain in the world, and with good reason. The 3,165-foot, bald-pate summit is reachable in two hours but offers the exhilaration of a true mountain conquest: a pounding heart and uplifting view of all six New England states. THE WALK Pick up the blazed White Dot Trail near the trailhead at Monadnock State Park Headquarters, then bear left on the slightly less steep White Cross Trail. The two rejoin just before reaching the top.

American Southwest

Utah and Arizona

For all the spacious beauty of the Southwestern desert, what draws admirers by the millions are its massive crevasses. The canyons of Utah and Arizona—Zion, Bryce, and the Grand Canyon—illustrate the sculptural wizardry of water and wind. Zion Canyon Narrows (Zion National Park, Utah, 16 miles) The "trail" here is the northern fork of the Virgin River, which leads you through a 2,000-foot-deep slot canyon of fiery orange-red sandstone that constricts in places to a mere 20 feet in width. THE WALK Take the park shuttle from Zion Lodge to the Temple of Sinawava, following Riverside Walkto the start of the canyon path, and go upstream. Three hours of hiking will bring you to a junction with Orderville Canyon and the start of the narrowest part of the main canyon. Go as far as you wish, then about-face for the walk back. A word of caution: Zion Canyon Narrows is generally safe in summer and fall, when the water is warm and shallow, but late-summer thunderstorms can create flash-flood conditions, so check with the visitors' center before setting out. As rays of daylight find their way into the deep shaft of Zion, the sediment takes on the colors of sunset. High above you'll see tributary streams tumbling down from side canyons. WHERE TO STAY Zion Lodge (Zion National Park, Springdale; 888/297-2757 or 303/297-2757 for reservations, 435/772-3213 for the lodge; www.zionlodge.com; four-person cabins from $107), the only accommodation inside the park, sits in a valley that looks up at sandstone cliffs. Each of its 40 pine-paneled cabins has a stone fireplace and sleeps four.

AMERICAN SOUTHWEST EXTRAS Under-the-Rim Trail (Bryce Canyon National Park, 5.8 miles) Trace the contour of one of Bryce's scalloped tiers just below its main precipice, which is crowned with fantastic pink, red, and orange spires of limestone and sandstone, called hoodoos. THE WALK The complete trail runs 23 miles from Bryce Point to Rainbow Point; turn around after stopping to admire the Hat Shop, a wonderland of top-heavy capped spires, 2.9 miles from the trailhead.

Widforss Trail (Grand Canyon National Park, 9.8 miles) This generally overlooked, easy North Rim path undulates gradually as it skirts the lip of a side canyon called the Transept, then enters a fragrant forest of cedar, hemlock, and spruce. When you emerge at Widforss Point, you're at the edge of the canyon—and you'll very likely have the panorama all to yourself. THE WALK Begin at the Widforss Trail parking area, one mile north of the North Rim Campground, and hike southwest on the clearly marked path.

Canadian Rockies


The trademark landscape of the Canadian Rockies and their impressive national parks—Banff, Yoho, Kootenay, and Jasper—is a rugged one, with glaciated 10,000-foot summits marking the Continental Divide and broad, forested basins in between. Because the valleys create such convenient access, by road, rail, and trail, it's easy to day-hike into high country, normally the province of mountaineers. Plain of Six Glaciers (Banff National Park, 9 miles) Glaciers are the artists, geologically speaking, of the Canadian Rockies, carving the valleys, defining the peaks, and filling narrow chasms with blue-green water. The hike starts at 5,700 feet and climbs taluses left by ancient ice floes, then heads into Plain of Six Glaciers, all of which are active—most notably, massive Victoria Glacier, which wraps around 11,361-foot Mount Victoria. THE WALK Start with the Shoreline Trail along Lake Louise and ascend gradually for three miles out of subalpine forest. A teahouse (403/522-3833) built in the 1920's by Swiss mountain guides serves tea and sandwiches. To return, backtrack less than a mile and join the Highline Trail, which leads to Lake Agnes and the hundred-foot cascade between Agnes and tiny Mirror Lake. It's a switchback descent from there. In addition to the glaciers at the peak of the hike and the panoramas of Lake Louise far below, a one-mile optional extension from the teahouse, on a razor-sharp trail, leads to a wild overlook of rock, plummeting water, and an ice chute called the Death Trap. WHERE TO STAY Established in 1890, the turreted, 487-room Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (111 Lake Louise Dr.; 800/441-1414 or 403/522-3511; www.fairmont.com; doubles from $329), with its stone façade, stands above the shore of the lake and looks east to Mount Whitehorn and west to the Victoria Glacier. Some rooms have balconies.

CANADIAN ROCKIES EXTRAS Iceline Trail (Yoho National Park, 8.5 miles) Unobstructed views of the Yoho Valley, the President Range, and numerous glacial tarns are what draw walkers out of an old-growth spruce forest at 4,900 feet into treeless, alpine country. THE WALK Begin beside the roar of Takkakaw, Canada's tallest waterfall (1,200 feet), near the Whiskey Jack Hostel, and then climb to the rocky moraine beside Emerald Glacier. The trail loops back to the falls.

Valley of Five Lakes (Jasper National Park, 3 miles) It's a rare route in the Canadian Rockies that's essentially flat, but on this one you stay low (about 3,500 feet) and saunter through a forest of willow, poplar, and lodgepole pine en route to five small, jade-green lakes at the base of Mount Edith Cavell. Go early or late in the day and you'll have a good chance of spotting deer or elk, and perhaps beavers and bears. THE WALK The trailhead for the blazed hike is on the east side of Icefields Parkway, about 5.5 miles south of Jasper.

10 More Walks in North America and Europe

Virginia: Hawksbill Mountain Trail (Shenandoah National Park, 2.9 miles) Get a small taste of the world's most famous hiking path: the 2,173-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. Follow the AT south from the Hawksbill Gap parking lot (off Skyline Drive), then take Hawksbill Mountain Trail to reach the 4,050-foot summit, the highest in Shenandoah Park. Minnesota: Split Rock River Loop (Lake Superior, 5.1 miles) This particular section of the 200-mile Superior Hiking Trail (the trailhead is 43 miles north of Duluth on Route 61) traces the cascading Split Rock River to a giant rock formation, then crosses the river and doubles back. Montana: Highline Trail (Glacier National Park, 11.5 miles) The route, from Logan Pass Visitors Center to the loop on Going-to-the-Sun Road, parallels the Continental Divide, but at a merciful 2,000 feet below its serrated summits. California: Woodward-Bear Valley Loop (Point Reyes, 13.5 miles) The payoff is out by the Pacific, but getting there offers its own reward: it's an easy stroll through Woodward Valley's Douglas fir and coastal oak forests. Hawaii: Pihea Trail and Alakai Swamp (Kokee State Park, Kauai, 9 miles) Up-country Kauai, at 4,000 feet, abounds with rare native plants (lehua and olapa trees) and flitting songbirds. Much of the hike, from Kalalau Lookout to Kilohana vista, is on a boardwalk laid down to protect the bogs and their plants, but a few stretches are on steep, slick clay where hiking poles come in handy. Newfoundland: Skerwink Trail (Bonavista Peninsula coast, 3.2 miles) Much of the scenery featured in The Shipping News was filmed here, where forests and meadows abruptly meet rocky headlands on a trail between Fishers Loft Inn (www.fishersloft.com) near Port Rexton and the village of Trinity. British Columbia: Juan de Fuca Marine Trail (Vancouver Island, 5.4 miles) The segment between Sombrio Beach and Parkinson Creek is a one-day "best of" version of the coastal Juan de Fuca route, easily done as a day trip out of Victoria. Italy: Sentiero degli Dei from Bomerano to Monte Pertuso (Amalfi Coast, 5 miles) The "path of the gods" hugs a contour of the Lattari Mountains high above the clifftop villages of Praiano and Positano. Below lie the rocky Li Galli islands, home to Ulysses' sirens. Spain: Ruta del Cares (Picos de Europa, 8 miles) An ancient walkway out of Poncebos, in the northwest province of Asturias, runs along the narrow gorge of the Cares River to the village of Caín, cut into a sheer rock hillside. Ireland: Kerry Way (Iveragh Peninsula, 10 miles) This remote segment of the Kerry Trail starts at Climbers' Inn (www.climbersinn.com), rises out of Bridia Valley, then descends into the ancient oaks of the Black Valley.

PLUS: GEAR: Happy Trails


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