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Soak up the scenery and salty air on America’s most beautiful coastal walks.

Mickey
Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, knows just where to go to unwind: a coastal
park near his Sonoma, CA, home. “Doran Beach has it all,” he says. “The surf is
beyond description.”

Coastal
walks can make us grateful to be alive; fortunately, you’ll find great strolls
all over America’s 12,380 miles of coastline. And the most beautiful of these
walks, like the American landscape itself, take a number of forms.

In
Alaska, a coastal trail reveals a mash-up between nature and civilization,
where the fierce, snowcapped Chugach Mountains rise next to Anchorage’s
skyscrapers. Roam the trails of Georgia’s
Cumberland
Island
and you’ll see more wild horses and armadillos than
residents. And in Washington State’s Olympic National Park, fans of the Twilight series can pay homage to werewolves: myth has it a shape-shifter on the coast
turned a wolf into the first Quileute Native American.

Coastal
walks have the ability to inspire such stories and get us thinking. Sure, you
get to admire the scenery and experience an invigorating rush. But it’s also a
chance to let your mind wander, free from everyday routines and influenced by
the rhythms of nature. (As poet T. S. Eliot put it when musing on indecision, “I
shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.”)

So
it’s exciting to see preservationists looking out for these coastal access
points. They’re behind an ambitious $668 million land acquisition plan that
will create the California Coastal Trail (CCT), connecting Santa
Barbara
to bluffs on Oregon’s
border, with Mickey Hart’s Doran Beach in between. The 1,200-mile result will
be the most extensive coastal trail on earth.

How
important is that? Some scientists believe we are actually programmed for coastal
walking; that the crucial evolutionary moment when Homo sapiens stood
upright and lost our hair happened when we moved to the beach and our ancestors
stayed in the trees. Whatever the motive, there’s no denying that we feel
compelled to wander the shore.

So
don’t fight your instincts. Put on your walking shoes and set out for one of
America’s most beautiful coastal walks.

America's Most Beautiful Coastal Walks

Soak up the scenery and salty air on America’s most beautiful coastal walks.

Mickey
Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead, knows just where to go to unwind: a coastal
park near his Sonoma, CA, home. “Doran Beach has it all,” he says. “The surf is
beyond description.”

Coastal
walks can make us grateful to be alive; fortunately, you’ll find great strolls
all over America’s 12,380 miles of coastline. And the most beautiful of these
walks, like the American landscape itself, take a number of forms.

In
Alaska, a coastal trail reveals a mash-up between nature and civilization,
where the fierce, snowcapped Chugach Mountains rise next to Anchorage’s
skyscrapers. Roam the trails of Georgia’s
Cumberland
Island
and you’ll see more wild horses and armadillos than
residents. And in Washington State’s Olympic National Park, fans of the Twilight series can pay homage to werewolves: myth has it a shape-shifter on the coast
turned a wolf into the first Quileute Native American.

Coastal
walks have the ability to inspire such stories and get us thinking. Sure, you
get to admire the scenery and experience an invigorating rush. But it’s also a
chance to let your mind wander, free from everyday routines and influenced by
the rhythms of nature. (As poet T. S. Eliot put it when musing on indecision, “I
shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.”)

So
it’s exciting to see preservationists looking out for these coastal access
points. They’re behind an ambitious $668 million land acquisition plan that
will create the California Coastal Trail (CCT), connecting Santa
Barbara
to bluffs on Oregon’s
border, with Mickey Hart’s Doran Beach in between. The 1,200-mile result will
be the most extensive coastal trail on earth.

How
important is that? Some scientists believe we are actually programmed for coastal
walking; that the crucial evolutionary moment when Homo sapiens stood
upright and lost our hair happened when we moved to the beach and our ancestors
stayed in the trees. Whatever the motive, there’s no denying that we feel
compelled to wander the shore.

So
don’t fight your instincts. Put on your walking shoes and set out for one of
America’s most beautiful coastal walks.

JaSon / Getty Images

America's Most Beautiful Coastal Walks

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