Michael GrawExplorer

Amazing view

This hike is steep - basically 1,000 feet straight up for a mile - but totally worth it. The view is spectacular in all directions and you can see not only where you came from way down in the valley below but also the tons of mountain ridges and nook-like canyons that dot West Virginia's Alleghany Front. Also good for a very steep, but relatively short trail run.

What and amazing area!

Bear Rocks is just so cool to see. After driving up and up from the valley floor, emerging on to the mountaintop and seeing how different and exposed the Bear Rocks area is was almost a shock. The view to the east is spectacular - mountains on mountains on mountains - so it would be perfect for sunrise. The view to the west across the alpine area is also great, but not as photogenic. You can explore the area a bit - which can involve trudging through bogs - but the best rocks for photography are in the end the ones that are right next to the parking area. If you're staying for sunset, there's no camping within 1/4 mile of the road on the mountaintop, but if you drive about 1 mile back down towards the valley floor there are several dispersed camping spots right along the road.

Spectacular views

This is easily one of the best viewpoints in Shenandoah NP, and the effort to reward ratio is extremely low. Even the more strenuous hike from Little Stony Man is relatively easy for anyone used to hiking, and it's easy to follow the trail. The views from the top extend about 270 degrees to the west, overlooking Skyline Drive to the north and the central portion of the park to the south. Tremendous for sunset, and the rocky outcrop is awesome for photography. Highly recommend.

Awesome views for little work

For a less than one mile hike with only a little bit of climbing, the views are spectacular. The area is basically the top of a cliff, so there are unobstructed views to the west that make it absolutely perfect for sunset. The only downside is that because it's so accessible, it can also be crowded and it's not a large area to view from. You can also continue on to the top of Stony Man from here, which I would highly recommend.

Great overlook for photography

You can't go wrong with a sunrise at Shenandoah, and unlike a lot of the overlooks on Skyline Drive, Hazel Mountain actually has great foreground potential. There is an interesting pile of rocks right off the overlook that offers an anchor for sunrise photos. By mid-August, the sunrise is back in a good position in the sky for this overlook.

Crowded, and nude

Some of the reviews have pointed this out now, but Umpqua Hot Springs is almost always packed and nearly everyone is nude. Which is fine, but know to expect it - it can be pretty awkward if you show up in a swimsuit and need to crowd into a small pool of water that's already overfilled with naked people. That said, it's so crowded all the time that the hot springs really aren't worth it, they're just not that relaxing.

An Oregon Classic

The climb up South Sister is definitely a classic hike in Oregon - it's one of the most accessible volcano summits in the Northwest, and the views are staggering. There is so much good to say about this hike, detracted from only slightly by the fact that it's so popular - make sure to get to the trailhead early, both to get an early start and to secure a parking spot. In general, start earlier in the day and bring PLENTY of water since it can get very hot and is a huge change in elevation to the summit. A bandana could also be nice, since the trail is very dusty. Trekking poles are also key - the hike back down is a knee-buster! Also, I've seen people hiking on the glacier at the mountain's shoulder in the past...don't do it - it's an active glacier with crevasses and an easy way to create a dangerous situation.

Need to go back!

A friend has been telling me how much I HAVE to go to Cape Blanco for over a year now, and I finally stopped there on my way down the coast this past weekend. It's spectacular. The views north and south up the coast are like nowhere else since the land juts so far out to sea heare, and there's a ton to explore in the rocky intertidal zone below the bluffs of the cape itself. Definitely planning to go back and spend some more time there!

Awesome beach and rocks

Bandon beach is super cool because of the sea stacks (rock formations) being right on the beach, rather than farther out to sea like in many places on the southern OR coast. It definitely does see a spike in popularity relative to the rest of the southern coast, but it's nothing compared to places like Canon Beach or Pacific City. Do be careful not to turn your back to the ocean - "sneaker" waves are abundant in this region and have been known to kill, even during low tides.

Pretty cool caves!

The Ape Caves are such a perfect example of lava tubes in the Cascades, and they're pretty family-friendly to explore. We stuck to the shorter of the two having just climbed St. Helens, but it would be neat to take the longer cave and pop out the far exit in the forest somewhere.

Must-do in Israel

Masada is worthwhile in itself, but absolutely make the effort to be at the top for sunrise. The desert sunrise over the Dead Sea and the hills of Jordan are spectacular and well worth an early start. The route up (from the highway along the Dead Sea - the "Snake Path" route) is relatively short, but steep. For fit hikers, it takes less than half an hour, but it can take much longer if you have to stop at every switchback. Going at sunrise also saves you from the worst of the heat - be sure to bring a bottle of water even if you're not expecting to be there long. Also note that Birthright trips frequent Masada at sunrise, so if possible plan your trip to avoid being there at the same time (the Birthright trips bring in hundreds of people hiking all at the same time). And since you're already in the area, be sure to float in the Dead Sea afterwards - it's really unique!

Life-list hike

This is an absolute must-do for any trip to Zion, and it's worth taking a trip to Zion just for this hike. The climb up the canyon wall is a beast, but the trail itself is incredible in that there are stairs carved into the sandstone walls! And Angel's Landing itself is unlike any other summit you'll find on a hike - the views are beyond spectacular, and the drop is more than enough to get your heart racing. In winter, be sure to bring microspikes for traction, as a lot of the trail ices over - and even with microspikes, I'd think twice (or three times) about stepping onto the landing if there's any ice present.

Unique area

This is a really unique area to explore because of the large obsidian flows. It's very cool to walk through the flows - even the trail winding through the piles of volcanic rock looks neat! - and even more fun that you can explore the flows off-trail just by scrambling. All of this is paired with some great views of the Three Sisters, although I will admit there are better vantages in other (non-limited-entry) areas of the Three Sisters Wilderness. If you're worried about getting a permit, try going in October - the McKenzie Pass Highway remains open until November 1 most years, and there are far fewer people looking to hike or backpack in this area late in the season.

Awesome ride

Seeing Crater Lake by bike is infinitely better than driving around the lake in a car. The slower pace lets you really take in the scenery, and adds an element of having had to work for those views. The ride isn't easy, but it shouldn't be particularly challenging for people who ride hills regularly - the biggest change is the altitude. There's also an option to add on 10 miles and 1,300 feet of gain by taking the spur out to the Pinnacles. The Pinnacles are mildly interesting, but the climb back to Rim Drive will grab your attention! Also, check out the park's car-free days in September for an even better experience. East Rim Drive is closed to cars, tons of cyclists come out to ride, and the park hosts aid stations around the rim.

As beautiful as the pictures!

Toketee Falls is definitely worth a stop if you're on Hwy 138 - it really is as blue and beautiful as all the pictures make it out to be. The trail is very easy to navigate, with little elevation, although to get down to water level requires some steep scrambling that isn't for most people. Be sure to spend a few minutes at the gorge above the falls - it's almost as spectacular as the falls itself. And Umpqua Hot springs is only a few miles up the road when you finish the hike...

Absolute must for Olympic NP

Royal Basin has been on my to-do list for a while, in part because it's one of the few quota camping areas in Olympic National Park. And after visiting, I can see why - Royal Basin is spectacular! The old-growth on the hike in exemplifies the archetypical Northwest forest, and by the time you reach the basin you're in an entirely different - alpine - world surrounded by massive peaks. Royal Lake is beautiful, but for the best scenery visiting the upper basin is absolutely essential. As far as camping goes, none of the sites (which are delineated on the permits) are particularly large or even especially flat, but the location easily makes up for that. I agree with Nathan's review above that the trail is very manageable (it does climb 2,000 feet, but it's so gradual all the way to Royal Lake you'll barely notice). However, be aware that Mt Deception is definitely a technical climb. One additional tip - if you can't get camping permits for Royal Basin, but are up for a big hike, there is no quota for Deception Basin to the south (hike to upper Royal Basin, then continue on over the shoulder of Deception - this is a very steep and tough scramble, followed by a steep descent!).

Great backpacking destination

Caribou Lakes basin is an amazing place to spend a summer weekend. You have your choice of three lakes (Snowslide, Lower Caribou, and Caribou), all of which are spectacular and great for swimming and fishing. There are a ton of pre-established tent sites around all three lakes and relatively close to the water. Even on July 4th weekend, when there were a ton of backpackers out, the size of the lakes allowed everyone to spread out so that it wasn't crowded at all. Also, unless there are fire restrictions in effect, campfires are allowed in the basin and many sites have fire rings. If you have a day of basecamping at the lakes, follow the trail up to Sawtooth Divide for an unreal view of the Trinity Alps and the Klamath Mountains (note - the trail is partially snow covered through mid-July, so scrambling on steep terrain may be involved to get up there). For a shorter excursion, head up beyond Caribou Lake to explore the creek that feeds into the lake from snow melting off the divide.

Best of Oregon

Pamelia Lake, Jefferson Park, Grizzly Peak, Triangulation Peak, and the list goes on (all of these have adventures on the Outbound). If you're planning on a backpacking trip in Oregon, skip the Portland barrage of hikers on Mount Hood and head to the second highest peak in the state instead. The views are incredible and there are tons of alpine lakes to pitch your tent around. Unfortunately, people have begun to notice how spectacular the Jefferson wilderness is, and the USFS has responded by requiring entry permits on the Pamelia Lake trailhead and overnight reservations in Jefferson Park - so do plan ahead, or better yet, explore off-season (it's extra spectacular in winter and spring!).

Permit Required starting in June 2016

New for 2016, the USFS is requiring online reservations to be made for any of the designated lakeside campsites in Jefferson Park between Memorial Day and Halloween - see http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/willamette/recreation/?cid=stelprd3849890 for more info. Jefferson Park area is one of the best overnights in the Oregon Cascades! Each of the lakes is beautiful on its own, and the views of Jefferson - right in your face the entire evening - are unparalleled. The hike up from the Whitewater trailhead is relatively easy (certainly some elevation gain, but nothing too extreme) and the road is actually in pretty good shape. Snow lasts into mid-June, making this a great option for a May snowshoeing or backcountry skiing trip (think Memorial Day weekend - if you're out by Monday night, no permits required! Plus, there are no mosquitos and way fewer people spending the night up there when there's still snow on the ground). For a side trip, check out Park Butte about a mile to the north - it's difficult to actually reach the summit, but there are some nice views of Jefferson Park itself from the butte. Also, give yourself time for a nap and plan to spend the night staring at/photographing the Milky Way. There's basically zero human light and the snow-covered mountain reflects all the starlight. The single downside to this hike is that I still haven't found a great post-hike brewpub option along Hwy 22!

Great for wildflowers

The only downside to Dog Mountain is that it's so close to Portland. For a relatively short (albeit steep) hike, the wildflower-filled meadows are well worth the effort. Mid-may seems to be the best time to hit it for peak wildflowers - even going on May 22nd this year seemed almost a week past peak bloom. Be sure to bring a jacket for the top - once the tree cover falls away, it can be quite windy and cool in the meadows (especially if you go on an overcast/rainy day, when the top of the mountain tends to end up in a cloud). Also, I would add a personal favorite nearby brewery to Liam's list - Backwoods Brewing in Carson, WA (about 10 minutes from the trailhead) has good enough beer to compete with Hood River breweries and even better wood-fired pizza.

A bit disappointing

Everything you've heard about the views from the top are true - they're spectacular. Hood is right in front of you, and you can easily see from Rainier to Jefferson on clear days. But, I was a bit disappointed when I finally reached the top of Larch after ascending thousands of feet. There are almost no views the entire way up, and then the only place on the summit with a view is the viewing platform itself - a roughly 10' x 10' concrete platform surrounded by fencing and about a five minute walk from the parking lot (which itself is only a half hour's drive from Portland). So, while the views are great, for all the effort of hiking up there is virtually zero solitude and no chance even to explore the summit or find an "alternative" viewing point. (For the same reason, I would actually warn photographers off of coming here without a specific shot in mind - there's no foreground save for a bit of rock extending off of Sherrard Point, but it's pretty sketchy to get to.)

Great Daytrip!

Visiting the tulip fields is just an awesome way to spend an afternoon. All the daffodils were past their prime by early April this year, but the tulips were in full bloom! Just some extra tips - Roozengarde charges a $5 entry fee to the main field, but there are tons of other fields that you can see from the road if you drive around. Seeing the different varieties inside Roozengarde itself is pretty cool, though. And it can get EXTREMELY crowded, so go early or during the week if at all possible!

Awesome spring trip!

I led a group of friends up towards Mason Lake as a day hike in early April - the whole Pacific Northwest has seen some early-season sunshine this year, so the snow was melted off until a few hundred feet below the lake. The trail comes out onto an awesome meadow and boulder field at about 2.5 miles, and the views are spectacular - especially in spring, the south side of the Snoqualmie valley is still covered in snow and Rainier is entirely blanketed in white. The only catch is that you'll need an ice axe and crampons to actually reach the lake via the meadow that the trail normally climbs. There's also a boulder field adjacent to the meadow that can be scaled safely, although be very careful of postholing through the snow and catching a leg between rocks. The boulder field was definitely do-able, but it was enough to turn most day hikers around (especially given the views already gained!).

One of my favorite rides in Oregon

This is one of my favorite rides in Oregon! Going in the reverse direction, from Smith Rock to Sisters, the huge peaks of the central Cascades are in your face the whole way. And for someone accustomed to western Oregon, there's something just entirely enjoyable about riding through sagebrush and juniper. The route is pretty lightly trafficked the whole way, with the busiest part being an ~0.1 mile stretch along highway 126 - but the shoulders there are extra wide anyway. Just be sure to bring extra water and spare tubes, since there is very little in the way of services between Sisters and the Terrebonne area and it can get quite hot in the summer.