The Freedom Trail-Boston NHP


On Wednesday Craig had the day off so we went into Boston with friends to walk The Freedom Trail. We had walked it back in 2010, but did not have our national park passport book at the time. We wanted to get some of the stamps that we had missed before we move away. 




The Freedom Trail is 2.5 miles long, so round trip it takes about 5 miles. We wound up walking over 10 miles though. We started at the Boston Common and walked to the Charlestown Navy Yard. We climbed the 294 steps in the Bunker Hill Monument, visited several churches and museums, had lunch in the North End and wound up at Eataly for drinks and dinner. In all a great day with friends and we got many new stamps for the passport! 















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National Park Week

 

 

Remember it is National Park Week and entrance is FREE to your parks! Here are the other free dates for 2017:

  • January 16: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 20: Presidents’ Day
  • April 15-16 and 22-23: Weekends of National Park Week
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 30: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11-12: Veterans Day Weekend

 

I love these great images for you cell phone background, desktop background and Facebook cover photo too! Download for free from the National Park Foundation here. 

 

Helicopter Tours - Las Vegas &amp; Grand Canyon

Top 10 National Park Hikes


This is a list of my favorite national park hikes we have done. We have only visited 18 parks out of 59 so far, so I am sure these may change over time. Thanks to Adventures of a Day Hiker for the inspiration. For now here they are!

10. Bright Angel Trail-Grand Canyon National Park

I am sure the Bright Angel Trail will move higher up on my list when we finally get to stay at Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Grand Canyon. We only hiked part of the Bright Angel while we were at the Grand Canyon because we had limited time and a lot to see. Many hikers do a day hike to one of the rest houses or Indian Garden since this can be a tough one to climb back up from. We visited in October and it was still 80 when the sun was out.  The summer can be deadly. Listen to all the warnings and remember you have to go back up! This website and book are great for hikers and visitors. We also loved the South Kaibab Trail, but only got to see a little of it.

9.  The Zion Narrows-Zion National Park

The Narrows is more of a wade through the North Fork of the Zion River than a hike with elevation, but it can be hard on your legs and balance. Most day hikers do the bottom up day hike. You can also camp and get a permit to do the top down to see more of the scenery and canyon. You can rent water shoes, hiking sticks and even waders from shops at the entrance to Zion national Park if the water is cold. The shoes really help with the rocky bottom and give support to your ankles so you do not turn them. The hike is beautiful and unique. There are usually lots of people having fun towards the beginning, but it gets quiet the further you go. The Narrows can be closed from March-May, so check before you plan to go. 

8. Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail-Yellowstone National Park

There are a lot of amazing hikes in Yellowstone National Park, but we have only done a few of them so far. I hope we get to do many more next summer since we hope to work seasonally in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park! People raved about the Picnic Area hike in Lamar Valley near Roosevelt so we gave it a try. We only saw two or three other hikers the whole time, so I would definitely bring bear spray. It is an easy hike once you make the first initial climb from the parking lot/picnic area. There are lots of sheer drop offs so watch the kids. The views are beautiful and sweeping. We also love Trout Lake, Mystic Falls, Observation Point and the whole Upper Geyser Basin to Biscuit Basin for easy hikes in Yellowstone.  

7. Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park

While short, Uncle Tom’s Trail packs a punch. It is steep going back up, and many people rush and forget water. Remember, you are already at a high elevation. The views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this metal staircase trail are great. You are right next to the Lower Falls. Try to get the rainbow in your pictures. Take your time and enjoy!

6. The Queens Garden Trail-Bryce Canyon National Park

I really felt like I was walking around in a fairy tale when we hiked the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon. You feel so tiny next to the hoodoos when you actually start walking around next to them. The floor of Bryce Canyon is lush and peaceful. Wall Street is amazing to hike through. We only stayed a night in Bryce Canyon and I can not wait to go back.

5. The Precipice Trail and The Beehive Trail-Acadia National Park

I lumped the Beehive and the Precipice Trails together even though the Beehive is shorter. I loved them both and both have amazing views. The Beehive is easier since it is about half the length of the Precipice. The Precipice is really more of a climbing/bouldering course than a hike. I wore biking/climbing gloves on the Precipice and they really helped with the iron rungs. Some parts were changeling for a short person like me, but several brave kids were doing the hikes. Not for those with a fear of heights! 

4. The Mist Trail-Yosemite National Park

I love Yosemite National Park so much. The valley is amazing. We can not wait to go back and do lots of hiking and exploring. I am hoping we can work a summer/fall season there in 2019. The Mist Trail hike was one of the highlights when we visited in 2015. Craig was wearing sneakers and it was very wet, so we did not get to Nevada Falls. My hiking boots did a great job. I would love to hike to Half Dome while we are working there, but it does scare me a bit! 

3. The Highline Trail-Glacier National  Park

Glacier National Park is a hikers dream. The Highline Trail is a great hike from the Logan Pass area. You must get there early to find a parking spot, or take a shuttle from where you are staying. There are sheer drop offs, but the hike itself is a pretty steady elevation change. We saw waterfalls, mountains, mountain goats and breathtaking views. One of my favorite national park hikes so far.

2. Angels Landing-Zion National Park

I would rank Angels Landing #1 except it was SO CROWDED when we went in October 2015. The temperature was perfect-in the 80’s. You will probably want to get on the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing early so it is still in the shade. The switchbacks are killer. It is even a great hike if you stop at Scout Lookout. The views are incredible. If you are brave try the chain portion. It is short, but if it is crowded be prepared to wait. You may want to check on when the sun will be hitting the canyon for the best light and pictures.

1. Grinnell Glacier-Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier is my number one national park hike we have done so far. It is amazing to see the effects of climate change and how the glaciers have shrunk. It was also so nice to hike with a ranger and group of national park fans.The whole hike has stunning views. I can not wait to do this hike again. We hope to work a summer season in Glacier. Maybe in 2020!

Thanks for reading and happy hiking! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures.

 

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The Precipice Trail-Acadia National Park


We had a great long weekend in Acadia National Park. One of the highlights was The Precipice Trail to the top of Champlain Mountain. The Precipice is an iron rung and ladder route up the steep cliffs along the east face.


Last year, we were not able to hike the Precipice  because the parking lot was packed. We did the Beehive instead. The Precipice is twice as long as the Beehive and harder. This year we took the park shuttle from Blackwoods Campground where we were staying with friends. It worked out great.


There is an 850 foot elevation gain up the trail and it takes about 1 and 1/2 hours if you go at a safe pace. Wear good hiking shoes and bring water. This hike/climb would be hard to do if you are afraid of heights! There are several exposed areas and narrow ledges. Sometimes you will have to wait on a ledge for others to climb. 

There are a few different trails you can take back down the other sides of Champlain Mountain.

I thought the Precipice Trail was amazing and challenging. I am glad we hiked when it was a cool 70 degree day out. It was definitely more like climbing than hiking. Have fun and be safe if you do The Precipice. Remember the trail is usually closed from March-August for Peregrine Falcon nesting.

The Highline Trail

One of the most popular hikes in Glacier National Park is the Highline Trail. You access the trailhead from the Logan Pass Visitor Center area. The trail is 15.2 miles long and gains over 1,900 feet of elevation, so it is pretty strenuous if you hike the whole trail. If you want to shorten the hike, you can hike to Haystack Pass (3.6 miles) and back (about 7 miles round trip.)

Near the first part of the trail you reach the ledge on the Garden Wall that hangs high above the Going to the Sun Road. If you have a fear of heights, this part may be tough. The ledge is only 4-6 feet wide and drops off about 100 feet on one side. There is a cable attached to the wall that you can hold on to. We saw some little kids that were very scared on this part.

After this part, the views start to get amazing. If you do not get on the Highline Trail early, prepare to see crowds. The Logan Pass parking lot gets packed too. It fills by 10am most mornings in July and August! We saw less than 10 people on the trail in the morning and had to let many people pass us on the way back. That tends to slow you down, so plan plenty of time.

We had two mountain goats blocking the trail at one point! A ranger came along and had to shake a plastic bag at them to move them off of the trail. It was not wide enough to get by them otherwise. One day soon, Craig and I hope to hike the Highline Trail to the Granite Park Chalet built in 1914.  

 

 

Grinnell Glacier Hike

If you visit Glacier National Park, the Grinnell Glacier hike is a must do! It is a moderately strenuous 11.6 mile round trip with over 1,800 feet of elevation gain. You can cut out 3.4 miles of the hike by taking two classic wood boats across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephene. Book them way ahead to get a spot. The hike opens fully towards the end of July. Otherwise, you may not be able to go all the way due to snow. Check the NPS site for updates.

Craig and I went on the ranger led hike and had a great time. It was tough climbing the first part of the hike, and we were glad to have poles going up and back down. Our ranger David stopped every so often to give the group a rest and to give slower hikers a chance to catch up. We learned a lot about the geology of the park, saw three glaciers, amazing wildflowers, walked through waterfalls, saw wildlife like Bighorn Sheep and 1.5 billion year old Stromatolites.

Take plenty of water on the hike and wear a hat and good hiking shoes/boots. You may want to order a box lunch from your hotel the night before and take a small soft-sided cooler with you. There is a picnic area along the way with benches and pretty clean pit toilets. It is a hard hike, but so worth the effort. It is probably my favorite hike I have done so far. It is hard to show how enormous Grinnell Glacier is with pictures. It is also amazing to see how far it has receded. Please go and experience it while you still can! 

Here is a great site for hiking Glacier. This site gives you details on the Grinnell Glacier hike. 

Natural Places Nearby

Once you have a plan for the future it can be hard to wait. Craig and I have to be patient and save a little more money before we feel comfortable heading out on the road. That is why we gave ourselves until next fall. This also gives us more time to plan things out and search for a nice truck and RV. While we are saving and planning, we are spending as much time as we can in the open spaces and land near us.

We like to bird watch, so we have been going to several of the Mass Audubon Sanctuaries near us. Like the National Park Service, they are celebrating 100 years this year. We love to walk the paths in the woods and near the marshes. Every time we visit, we see something new. Yesterday two deer were bedding down right next to where we were walking. A hawk was being chased away by several birds and we also saw three snakes.  I have been posting pictures to our Instagram feed.

We have also been volunteering at the Essex County Greenbelt and the Trustees of Reservations. The Trustees are celebrating 125 years this year. It is nice to learn more about the wildlife around us, work and hike our trails and give some of our time back to the community. We enjoy being part of the events and are finding we are spending less money on other outings. We got to take a wilderness first aid class and plan on taking a longer one in the fall or next spring.  

We are also walking 3-10 miles every time we get out there. This makes a big difference when we hike on our trips. We are able to walk all day and enjoy our time in the National Parks. One more month until our big Glacier/Yellowstone/Grand Teton summer trip. We are really looking forward to it!