Hiking & Backpacking

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Tips for Hiking the PCT

Whether you're planning a section hike or a thru hike, our experts are here to help. We asked the authors of our Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail guidebooks to give us their top tips to prepare.   Read more…

Did you Know? Fort Rock State Park

Fort Rock State Park is a geological wonder located just outside Christmas Valley, Oregon. It's a 5-6 million year old horseshoe shaped volcanic maar, formed of tuff breccias that tower some 325 feet above the flat desert floor. It was formed when super heated basalt magma came into contact with ground water, causing an explosive eruption. Read more…

Backpacking Courses for 2019

Backpacking season will be upon us before we know it, and we have more options than ever to help you kick-start your backcountry dreams. Courses are available for adults at all skill and experience levels, as well as for families who want to take kids out on the trail. And, you're welcome to take a course with any branch regardless of your branch affiliation. Be sure to sign up for courses while you can, they fill up quickly!   Read more…

My Photography Adventure in Whistler

Whistler is know for its skiing and snowboarding and was the location of the 2010 Olympics. It's been on my bucket list for a while now, but I've been so involved with hikes at Mt. Rainier during the summer, that I forget about it until the season turns cold and wet. It's also supposed to have good hiking trails for the warmer months, so that's why I wanted to go. Read more…

A Route for the Ages: UP North Loop

On the evening of May 14, 2018, my wife Kathy “OBAL Unbranded” Vaughan and myself, aka Team UltraPedestrian, set out hiking south along the Idaho Centennial Trail from the small town of Hammett, Idaho. On November 5, after covering more than 2,600 miles on foot over the course of 174 days, 22 hours, and 25 minutes, we returned to our starting point, completing the first ever Inland Northwest Loop. Read more…

Voices Heard | Solitude vs. Community: There’s No “Right” Way to Be Outside

The first time I tried my hand at astrophotography (shooting the stars, as opposed to shooting stars) was on a clear night just outside Mount Rainier National Park. I was renting a cabin with my wife and her family, a trio of sisters from Colombia who spoke frequently about the possibility of seeing wildlife. I left them for the pitch darkness down the road along the Nisqually River. Read more…

How to Safely Go Bear Spotting in Washington

We are fortunate to have large National Parks and Wilderness areas in Washington State, and with them come an incredible array of wildlife. Among the more mysterious and hard-to-spot creatures are the bears populating our forests and rivers. I've had the opportunity to see over 50 bears in Washington over the last 15 years, and another dozen or so outside the state. I’ve written down every memorable encounter and have learned a few things about where to find them, how to spot them, and what to do (and not do).  Read more…

Three of the Best Hikes on Whidbey Island

The following is excerpted from Urban Trails: Everett by Craig Romano, and features three great hikes on Whidbey Island: Ebey's Landing National Historic Reserve, Trillium Community Forest, and Dugualla State Park. Edited for space and clarity. Read more…

Traversing Blowdowns in the Pasayten Wilderness

My husband Bri and I love backcountry adventures, particularly to remote places without crowds and high routes without trail. We’ve explored much of the Cascades, but when we eyed a trip into the Pasayten Wilderness we felt that the driving distance and spectacular scenery warranted a longer expedition than usual. We decided to go before Slate Pass Road opened, when the high peaks in the area still had snow blanketing their scree slopes and the travelers on horseback had not yet arrived.   Read more…

Tips and Tricks for the Vegan Backpacker

So you're vegan - no meat, no fish, no dairy, and if you're hardcore no gummy worms either. Whether you do it for your health, the environment, or for animals, it's not always convenient to have a plant-based diet. This is especially true in the world of backpacking, where beef jerky is its own food group. But I have good news- it's entirely possible to vegan and well in the backcountry. All it takes is a little extra planning and a lot of legumes.   Read more…