Author Topic: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US  (Read 2588 times)

REAL WORLD EXPAT

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Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« on: May 23, 2016, 02:42:31 PM »
Looking to plan a week long hiking vacation in 2017 somewhere in the lower 48 - probably around September time. Ideally we'd like to find a spot where minimal car usage is required so the ability to get to different trails, do shopping without a car would be great, bike rental close would be great too. We're reasonably fit (late 30's mid 40's couple) so looking for something challenging but not real mountaineering or anything. Could be coastal hiking, rolling hills, national park, forests etc. we're pretty open at this point - not too crowded would be the only stipulation we'd have and wife is not a camper (tent) so will need some accommodation where showers and the shitter are not shared!

We're in the Chicago area so we are open to driving up to 8 hours for something "local" or we'll fly otherwise.

Looking for suggestions to help us decide. Thanks in advance for taking the time to reply.

lthenderson

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2016, 03:41:26 PM »
Right outside of your 8 hour local mark is the Buffalo River National Park in NW Arkansas. There is over 125 miles of trails within the park proper and hooks up with 218 miles of the Ozark Highlands Trail. The hiking is some of the most spectacular hiking in the Midwest. In September, you should be able to rent one of the dozens of private cabins in and around Ponca, Arkansas to make the wife happy. There aren't any bike rental places there but you might be able to rent them before driving down there. Around the park, there are thousands of miles of old logging and gravel roads up and down the mountain range that are great to bicycle on. The river is spring fed but it the level is  up, you can rent canoes and paddle a couple days as it winds through the mountains and sheer bluffs. There are two outfitters in Ponca where you can hire people to shuttle your vehicle to allow for longer hikes, bicycle rides and paddles at very reasonable rates. I've been going there for four decades now and never grow tired of it.

galliver

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2016, 03:46:43 PM »
Depending on the flexibility of the "not crowded" stipulation, I'd recommend one of the bigger national parks that have shuttle service; I adore Zion NP in Utah but lots of parks have been implementing shuttles so I don't know what the complete list is at this point...but that would let you stay in the park hotel, have the general store right nearby, probably a few trails right there plus whatever the shuttle can take you to. Note: I've only been to Zion in April & May, it might be blisteringly hot in September. A lot of parks in the southwest may be worth avoiding on that basis, e.g. Grand Canyon.

Another thing to consider is out-of-season ski resorts. My dad's academic field loves to hold conferences at ski resorts in the summer, and he took us along a few times. Aspen (CO) definitely  had some trails right off the lodging area, and it was beautiful. However, it does double as a mountain biking resort in the summer (they use the lifts for the bikers!), so demand isn't quite rock-bottom; but it does mean some amenities like groceries might be open that otherwise wouldn't? Protip: at ski areas you can rent a small condo instead of a hotel room so you can cook comfortably.

Or get your wife to woman up and hike out to a secluded lake! Skinnydipping and any bush you choose to pee behind is completely your own! ;) [I'm pretty to-each-their-own...but women refusing to go camping feels to me like a betrayal of the Sisterhood. Reinforcing stereotypes and all that.]

StarBright

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2016, 03:57:58 PM »
We did the MD section of the AT (3-4 days), spent a day on the river in Harper's Ferry and included a couple of days in DC for a week long trip a few years ago. It was really nice. We camped but you are so close to civilization that I'd bet you can find hotels/B&Bs quite easily along the trail.

We had friends in the area so we were able to park our car at the bottom and then they drove us to to the northern trail head. On the AT I think the MD section is the only one small enough to really do that. Cheap(ish) flights on Southwest from MDW to BWI.

Within your driving range - the Indiana Dunes National Lakefront is quite nice and has some nice trails, but I don't know if it would keep you busy for a week. You might also look into the UP in Michigan. It's been years since I've been to Hiawatha but I remember it seeming vast when I was a kid. You could do a nice combination of lakefront/forest hiking.

Dusty Dog Ranch

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2016, 07:41:21 PM »
I'll chime in for my neck of the woods-Washington State has oodles of places that would fit your criteria. Olympic National Park for the combo of coast and mountains, or the Methow Valley\North Cascade NP for a more inland West experience (fall color of larches and aspen, ahhh). You would have to rent a car at the airport to get to either of them. Winthrop, in the Methow, has the bike rental, shopping within walk and biking distance, and many miles of trails of all difficulty levels. Check out mvista.org.

brokescientist

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2016, 08:10:24 PM »
Acadia National Park / Bar Harbor Maine.

Just look it up I can't describe it all, but it sounds exactly like what you are looking for.

-Matt

brooklynmoney

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2016, 09:06:58 PM »
I think this is probably too far but don't know as I don't drive, but in September I hiked the trails near Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Stunning scenery perfect temps and there's a system of huts so someone cooks for you and you sleep in a bed.

dougules

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2016, 11:56:38 AM »
I think even the most popular national parks can be pretty quiet if you get even just a little bit off the beaten path.  The Smoky Mountains are the most visited park, and you will have plenty of solitude if you get even a little bit away from the AT and roads.   I'm sure the other popular national parks of any size are the same way. 

I'd recommend the mountains of eastern North Carolina (including the Smokies).  The forest is beautiful.  There are so many places ignored by the AT thru-hikers and drivers on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  September would still be green with the heat and humidity at the lower altitudes starting to subside.

The Northwest has a never ending supply of beautiful places to hike, too.  The coast and Olympics are dumbfoundingly beautiful.  The Cascade Mountains would not disappoint either.  They go on for miles and miles, and there are too many attractions to list.  If you want really want the place to yourself, try the Wallowa Mountains.  I think the weather would still be decent in September, too. 

Both of those would probably require some driving if you weren't up for tent camping, but I imagine you could figure out somewhere you wouldn't need it. 
« Last Edit: May 24, 2016, 11:59:45 AM by dougules »

Jaguar Paw

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2016, 12:23:24 PM »
September is a great time to go visit Rocky Mountain national park. The crowds have died down as the kids are back in school and the weather is great! Septemberbin Colorado has less thunderstorms than the summer so that is a bonus. Plus, early September there is an elk rut and changing leaves at rmnp. The elk rut is super awesome to see and hear. Way more hiking than you'll be able to get done in a week.
Having been to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Arcadia, Grand Canyon and glacier, rmnp remains our favorite during September. If you decide to do this I can suggest some stellar hikes and camping spots.

REAL WORLD EXPAT

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Re: Hiking vacation suggestions in the US
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2016, 05:48:27 AM »
Thanks for everyone's idea's - after some thought (and coupled with the fact some friends of ours have recently moved to Portland, ME) we've decided to on Maine - few days in Portland and then off to Acadia National Park.

Some great suggestions for other trips though!