6 BEST HIKES IN NORTH AMERICA
Hiking fanatics, our friends Ian and Jean-Nicolas, from the blog 4000 Hikes, have rounded up their favourite climbs in North America. Read the article.
By : guest bloggers, Ian and Jean-Nicolas
1. MOUNT LAFAYETTE, WHITE MOUNTAINS, NEW HAMPSHIRE
Moderate hike, 5 to 8 hours, 7-13 kilometeres and 1,000 meters (3280 ') of elevation gain. Max elevation of 1,600 meters.
An iconic mountain from the 4000 footer club*, Mount Lafayette is renowned for its 360 ° views and accessibility (it is located in New Hampshire, about 3 hours from Montreal). We climbed it over a dozen times, and it's definitely one of our favourite mountains! There is also a loop which allows hikers to walk along the ridge.
For those who love camping, the Lafayette Campground is located at the base of the mountain, right by the trails. It is pretty remote so on a clear night, you’ll be able to observe the milky way and depending on the season, see countless shooting stars.
* 4000 footers (sometimes abbreviated "4ks") is a term referring to a group of forty-eight mountains in New Hampshire at least 4,000 feet (1,219 meters) above sea level.
2. KNIFE EDGE, MOUNT KATAHDIN, MAINE
Difficult hike, 8 to 10 hours, 14 kilometers and 1,200 meters (3,900 ') of elevation gain. Maximum elevation of 1,600 meters.
A truly mythical mountain, Mount Katahdin, in the north east USA, is an absolute must. Its geology is so different than what we’re used to seeing in the east : on one side you’ll find a very steep ridge overlooking gullies over 500 meters deep and on the other, a huge plateau perched at 1,300 meters of altitude! Needless to say the Knife Edge Trail is not for the faint of heart! Note that in bad weather, it is strongly recommended to use a different trail to get to the top.
An outing to Mount Katahdin is usually done over several days. This allows you to take full advantage of this remote and wonderful mountain, truly disconnect and be at one with nature! Access to the Mount Katahdin trails is regulated. We strongly recommend getting a permit before going on site.
3. CATHEDRAL GROVE, VANCOUVER ISLAND, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Looking for a change of scenery that doesn’t demand too much effort? Cathedral Grove will transport you to a lush forest filled with century-old trees covered with a thick layer of moss or lichen. It will give you the impression of being in a tropical jungle!
The park is not very big, but it is a perfect stop on the way to Tofino. There are several trails located on either side of the road so take the time to check them out. Don’t forget to visit one of the largest and oldest Douglas Fir trees in the world, which is 75 meters high and over 800 years old!
4. MOUNT ST-HELENS (VOLCANO), WASHINGTON STATE
Difficult hike, 5 to 7 hours, 15 kilometers and 1,350 meters (4,430 ') of elevation gain. Max elevation of 2550 meters.
Although the trail is mainly composed of rocks and dust, the views, both during the ascent and at the summit will not leave you indifferent. This active volcano is constantly eroding. You can see fumarole escaping from its centre and loose scree rolling down its cliffs almost every minute. The actual peak of the mountain (see photo) is much less popular with tourists, since it involves walking another 15-20 minutes, on rather steep ridges.
To the north, you will see the impressive Mount Rainier (photo) which rises to 4,392 meters of elevation. You’ll also spot Mount Adams to the east, an extinct volcano of 3,743 meters.
5. HIDDEN LAKE LOUKOUT, NORTH CASCADES, WASHINGTON STATE
Moderate hike, 5 to 6 hours, 12 kilometers and 944 meters (3,100 ') of elevation gain. Max elevation of 2,075 meters.
The Hidden Lake Lookout Trail is one of the most beautiful hikes in the North Cascades. It passes through forests and flowers at lower altitudes, as well as the most alpine area in the State of Washington. Fun fact : there is a small refuge at the top (photo) where you can sleep for free on a first come, first served basis. The shelter also has a fishing rod for the more adventurous types, who would like to fish for their dinner at the lake a few hundred meters down. There are also some campsites available 1 or 2 kilometers before the summit with great views of the valley.
The American West is often subject to fires in August and September. This was the case when we visited Hidden Lake Lookout. A permanent smell of fire was hovering in the air and the distant landscape was rather smoky.
6. MOUNT TEMPLE, BANFF NATIONAL PARK
Very difficult hike, 7 to 10 hours, 16 kilometers and 1,600 meters (5,250 ') of elevation gain. Max elevation of 3,544 meters.
Mount Temple is the second highest mountain in Banff National Park. Although it is a difficult hike, it remains accessible, even for people who are not avid mountaineers. Its south face does not require too much technique, which makes it the easiest mountain to climb in the 11,000 feet + category in Canada. The first part of the hike will take you to a very impressive pass called Sentinel Pass. Most people turn back here, which represents a hike of ten kilometers. The climb becomes much harder after this, as hikers have to climb 1,000 meters in altitude in only 3 kilometers.
If, however, you manage to reach the top, you will be rewarded by an unusual sight that very few people have had a chance to experience: admiring the other Rocky Mountains from the top down! Indeed, on this summit, you will be higher than just about all the other mountains in your field of vision!
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