Zion Wilderness, wilderness sign, November
Zion Wilderness, 2018

I have hiked Zion National Park since teen years in Las Vegas, Nevada. We rarely saw anyone on most of our 1970s-80s trips to West Rim from Lava Point, Kolob Canyons, and—in December—a snowy slog up from Zion Canyon. The … Read More

Sawtooth Wilderness, boundary sign, September
Sawtooth Wilderness, 2018

Three days after Labor Day weekend and the campgrounds and trailheads at Redfish Lake were still packed with people. But we had a plan to elude crowds in overused Sawtooth Wilderness in Central Idaho. We’d take shuttle boat across Redfish … Read More

Eagle Cap Wilderness, wilderness sign, July
Eagle Cap Wilderness, 2018

It seemed like an obscure trailhead, many miles of driving along forest roads. But we saw half a dozen parked vehicles at Moss Creek Trailhead and a couple of horse trailers. After we loaded up our packs and headed down … Read More

Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, Forest Service sign, July
Strawberry Mountain Wilderness, 2018

The first time we visited Strawberry Wilderness, we were turned back by deep snow drifts—late May was too early to visit this alpine wilderness with elevations up to 8000 feet. The next time we came—40 years later—was the right time … Read More

Chiricahua Wilderness, wilderness sign, April
Chiricahua Wilderness, 2018 & 2015

Hiking the Crest Trail in Chiricahua Wilderness, we once traversed halls of a great cathedral: shuffling on needle-carpet among towering forest giants: old-growth Douglas fir, white fir, ponderosa pine and even a few Engelman spruce (southern-most extension for this species). … Read More

Mount Wrightson Wilderness, 2018

In January 2018, we visited Mount Wrightson Wilderness—designated in 1985 with 25,260-acres of soaring peaks, deep canyons, grasslands, and dozens of trails. From Cave Creek we took the Arizona Trail (AZT) south, swung up Temporal Gulch to a saddle west … Read More

Organ Pipe Cactus Wilderness, Monument sign, January
Organ Pipe Cactus Wilderness, 2018

The casual visitor to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument would never know 94% is wilderness. Visitors find the usual National Park Service (NPS) facilities: visitor center, campground, a few hiking trails (old mining roads near the campground) and two scenic … Read More

Sequoia-Kings Canyon Wilderness, forest service sign, September
Sierra Nevada Trek, 2017

I first saw the Minarets from a high pass in California’s Sierra Nevada (“snowy range”) as a college student, helping with a church youth group backpack trip. The jagged peaks in the Ritter Range northwest of Mammoth stuck in my … Read More

Bryce Canyon Backcountry, "wilderness" sign, May
Bryce Canyon Backcountry, 2017

I once hiked nearly half of Bryce Canyon’s Under-the-Rim Trail in a morning. Forty-two years later, my husband and I spent most of a day hiking this distance (along with a loop from Rainbow Point). We found this lightly used … Read More

Bear Wallow Wilderness, backpacking, Forest Service sign, May
Bear Wallow Wilderness, 2017

We used to admire the Blue Range—a sprawling hunk of high-elevation wild country on the Arizona-New Mexico border—during our student days in Tucson. We often hiked the nearby and better known Gila Wilderness, and could see the “Blue” ridge upon … Read More

Blue Range Primitive Area, Forest Service sign, April
Blue Range Primitive Area, 2017

We used to admire the Blue Range—a sprawling hunk of high-elevation wild country on the Arizona-New Mexico border—during our student days in Tucson. We often hiked the nearby and better known Gila Wilderness, and could see the “Blue” ridge upon … Read More

Brigantine Wilderness, sign, November
Brigantine Wilderness, 2016

We first inadvertently visited the only wilderness in New Jersey in August 2000. Our teenage daughter had insisted on a “real” beach vacation with no camping or backpacking, so we took the Lewes Ferry from Maryland to New Jersey and … Read More

Assateague Island Wilderness Study Area, 2016

“Going to the beach” is an iconic ritual for many Eastern U.S. residents. Thousands make the spring or summer pilgrimage east seeking undulating coastal expanse, shorebirds, shells, salt air, and wild skies along humanity’s favorite wilderness: the ever-restless, ever-changing ocean. … Read More

Central Idaho Trek, 2016

I finished the last long switchback to crest of Sleeping Deer Mountain. For past two days I had trudged up hot side slopes, clambered over logs, and fought chest-high brush in wet bogs, the 9,881-foot white granite peak in my … Read More

Catalina-Rincon Trek, 2016

During our student years at the University of Arizona, five from our hiking club attempted to trek across the Santa Catalina (Catalinas) and Rincon Mountains (Rincons) that frame the northeast corner of Tucson, Arizona. We started in pre-dawn dark aiming … Read More

Galiuro Wilderness, Forest Service sign, January
Galiuro Wilderness, 2016 & 2015

The Galiuro Wilderness in southern Arizona once boasted 100 miles of legacy trails—still touted in recent articles and shown on a map posted at some trailheads and online trail descriptions (click outside map to close it). But two recent efforts … Read More

Cumberland Island Wilderness, sign
Cumberland Island Wilderness, 2015

It took two trips to Cumberland Island Wilderness to figure out how to visit it. Although the nation’s only barrier island wilderness available for backpacking offers miles of roads and trails, dikes for marsh access, sand dunes, and lonely beaches—you … Read More

Miller Peak Wilderness, sign, October
Miller Peak Wilderness, 2015

It was the first time we had hiking guests, and we wanted it to be perfect. My younger sister, Chris, and brother-in-law, David R, were active hikers and cyclists but this was their first backpack trip. Cousin Mike was an … Read More

Stone Mountain Wilderness, 2014

We were about three miles from the trailhead and about 2000 feet straight up, breaking camp on Olinger Peak in the Stone Mountain Wilderness, when we heard a mechanized hum in the distance. An ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) rolled into camp, … Read More

Southern Blue Ridge wilderness areas, 2014

A mile into Little Wilson Wilderness, we were deep in wet leaves on an eroded trail. Jackie Street Trailhead was well marked from the road and a nice walk through a gate and past cattle in a green pasture. When … Read More

Southern Ridge & Valley wilderness areas, 2014

Our Virginia Wilderness Project was going well. Between 2012 and mid-summer 2014, we had visited 16 of 24 wilderness areas. But other work and life caught up, and we didn’t hike for two months. In September 2014 we squeezed in … Read More

Central Ridge & Valley wilderness areas, 2014

The long ridge of Potts Mountain runs for miles along or near the Virginia-West Virginia border north of Interstate-84 between Pulaski and Roanoke. Six wilderness areas on or close to Potts could offer interesting backpacking opportunity in remote country—with a … Read More

Northern Ridge & Valley wilderness areas, 2014

It was getting dark and David had lagged behind. But I was determined to find the lovely green flat and chimney remnant from Sexton cabin on Jerry’s Run Creek. Years ago my preteen daughter and I lolled on the greens … Read More

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