Our Top 10 Favorite Hikes – 1st Anniversary Post

A year ago today (March 1st, 2012), Steve and I made the final move into our RV and began our adventures on the road.  Wow, how time flies!  One of our goals is to continue to be active and exercise whenever we can.  As you might guess, in this lifestyle it can be easy to just sit, blog, eat, blog, read, blog and fail to get our blood flowing and pumping.  To commemorate our first year of full-timing, we thought it would be fun to share our favorite hiking and biking trails.  Who knows, you might find yourself in the neighborhood of one of these locales and decide to give it a try.

This review covers the states we’ve visited during the past year (CA, AK, WA, OR, NV, AZ, NM, TX, LA), and includes 40 hikes and 19 bike rides.  Of course, we did a lot of additional walking, but we consider these hikes to be more like mini-adventures.  Each hike had a unique characteristic that we enjoyed, but after debating all of them we agreed that the ones below are our favorites so far.  We chose them based on the enjoyment of the scenery, level of effort and the reward we received on each heart-pumping journey. Click on the red links for more details about each place.

Drum roll please….here it goes:

  1. Cliffs/Mesa/Slot Trails – China Ranch,  Tecopa, CA  : We ended up hiking 7 miles of  overlapping trails because, well, ok – we got lost 🙂   But it turned out to be a pleasant surprise and we enjoyed the diversity of the landscape, from rock formations to colorful mountains and we also learned of the area’s historical railroad and mining significance.  As a bonus, we found a waterfall in the middle of the desert!

China Ranch

  1. Lizard Peak Trail – Lake Havasu, AZ : A strenuous 4 mile hike with climbing, long steep slopes (600 ft. elevation change) to the top, ending with a beautiful 360-degree view of Lake Havasu and the surrounding area.

Lizard Peek Trail

8. Eagle Creek Trail – Columbia River Gorge, OR : A moderate 4.2 mile trek along the Columbia River, recognized as one of Oregon’s most spectacular paths.  We traced the line of Eagle Creek through the forest and along paths carved into basalt cliffs.  On this hike we saw two waterfalls along the way, Metlako Falls and Punch Bowl.

Eagle Creek Trail

  1. Lower Trailhead on Mt Whitney – Lone Pine, CA : A 4 mile climb that begins at the west end of Lone Pine Campground, starting at elevation 5,640′ and ending at over 7000′.  Beautiful views of Mt Whitney, Alabama Hills and Owens Valley along the way.

Mount Whitney

  1. Romero Pools – Catalina State Park, AZ : A 5.6 mile hike beginning on the flat desert floor, this one winds steeply up into the mountains amid rock formations.  It then drops down into an idyllic area of trees, pools and waterfalls at the bottom of a canyon where we took a break and enjoyed a quick lunch near the flowing water.

Romero Pools

  1. Echo Canyon Loop – Chiricahua Mountains, AZ  : A 3.3 mile loop that follows a rocky ridge past many huge eroded boulders and balanced rocks and hoodos. This place rocks!

Chiricahua Mountains

  1. Alpine Trail – Denali National Park, AK : A short (just over 1 mile) but strenuous hike that rises more than 1,000 to the top of Thorofare Ridge.  The path was dotted with beautiful wildflowers and the reward was a spectacular vista of mountain ranges, although Mt Mckinley was hidden by the clouds that day.

Alpine Trail, Denali National Park

Denali National Park

  1. Picacho Peak – Picacho, AZ : The first time we hiked here was the most difficult we have done, for it involved very steep sections with steel cables to assist.  We began with the Sunset View Trail to the summit, then climbed back down via Hunters Trail.  This became a 7 mile hike due to the additional 2 mile walk back to our car which was parked at the Sunset View trailhead.  We loved this one so much that we came back again to try out the remaining trails!
Then a few more...
Just a few more cables to go…
  1. Mt. Healy Overlook – Denali National Park, AK : A strenuous 5-mile round trip hike starts at the visitors center and rises 1,700 feet to the summit of Mount Healy, a small ridge that offers sweeping views of the surrounding area.  During our descent we were excited to come across a moose grazing near the path, our closest encounter with a moose.
Mt Healy overlook
Mt Healy overlook
Moose Sightings

And finally, our top favorite…

  1. Portage Pass Trail – Whittier, AK : We began the hike from the town of Whittier, near the tunnel that allows vehicle and train access to the port.  The trail climbs steadily and fairly steeply along the flank of the mountain.  Up, up you go for just over a mile, finishing at an elevation of 750′ that offers views of Portage Glacier, Passage Canal to the east, and the surrounding mountains.  Spectacular!
Passage Canal, Whittier, AK
View of Passage Canal near Whittier, Alaska
Portage Glacier
Admiring Portage Glacier

How about you – do you have a favorite hike to share?  We’re not talking about summiting McKinley or Everest here, just an enjoyable moderate trek.  We’d like to hear your suggestions and try to take it on when we’re in the area.




  1. Thank you for this post! I have only done 2 of the hikes you mention (Romero and Whitney) and now I have more to look forward to!

    We loved the Primitive Trail at Arches National Park. You get to wind among and play on the sandstone fins!

    Happy Trails to You!

  2. As we have a passion for hiking, this post was of particular interest to me. What a great idea! We have done 4 of those hikes that you list above and now you have given us several more great ideas. We haven’t been to AK yet but it is high on our list. The Chiricahau Mtns are coming up soon for us. Thanks again for a great post! 🙂

  3. Great hikes and photos! I’ve hiked the entire John Muir trail. I would recommend any part of that trail. It starts at Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley and ends at the top of Mt. Whitney. The most beautiful part of the trail is hiking from Evolution Valley to Evolution Lake.

    I also recommend hiking “Four-Mile trail” in Yosemite from the valley floor to glacier point.
    From there you can hike on the Panorama trail to the top of Nevada Falls. http://www.yosemitehikes.com/glacier-point-road/panorama-trail/panorama-trail.htm

    We will be hiking the Yosemite Valley trails in June.

    Another favorite is Tuolumne Meadows to Lyell Canyon via the John Muir Trail (easy)
    8 miles round-trip, 200-foot elevation gain; four hours

    Locally we like to hike around Lake Chabot.

    Thanks for sharing your favorite hikes.

  4. Great post ML. You two are NEVER idol long. We really wanted to stop at the Chiricahau Mtns especially after your post, but HAD to return to CO. You’ve given us some ideas and goals. Thanks 🙂

  5. Spectacular views captured very well by you!! Thanks for sharing…..and inspiring us to get off the keyboards….LOL!

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting. In response to your question … our time in Alabama (thus far) was mostly for getting repairs done and most of the time was spent in Red Bay. Before our trip (and again, after) we stayed at the FamCamp at Maxwell AFB just outside Montgomery, which is open only to the active duty/retired military. If you qualify, we recommend it. The Gunter Hill COE park, also on the outskirts of Montgomery, is fantastic. We drove around the other day and the sites on the Catoma Loop are well spaced out and nicely built; the other loop is closed this time of the year. Everyone who has stayed at Gunter Hill has loved it. We’re heading to the Isaac Creek COE next, first time stay for us, so no first hand experience, but others have said it’s a very nice park. When we hit Lower Alabama, we plan to stay at Gulf State Park … another new one for us, but it comes highly recommended, and is just a short bike across the road from the Gulf.

      As for things to do, we’re just starting out to explore Alabama, so I don’t have many recommendations of first hand experiences. We enjoyed our “getting to know” walk around downtown Montgomery and hope to go back to check out the capitol building. Selma is a must for its role in the Civil Rights Movement, but not sure we’re going to make it there this time.

      In northern Alabama: Ivy Green, Helen Keller’s childhood home, is worth a visit (http://2totravelphaeton.blogspot.com/2013/02/ivy-green-birthplace-of-helen-keller.html); as is the coon dog cemetery near Tuscumbia; the Rattlesnake Saloon comes highly recommended, but it is probably best visited on a warm weekend evening when there is entertainment (http://2totravelphaeton.blogspot.com/2013/02/from-saloon-in-tuscumbia-to-unique.html).

      Of course, if you’re heading east along the coast, then none of this work for you 😉

      Looking forward to following along on your travels.

  6. Flabbergasted, astounding, so arresting, MAGNIFICENT! Completely incredible post!!! I’m so amazed by your hikes. Great choice for number one as well -clouds over snow-capped mountains, that’s an amazing shot … including the one of Alpine Trail. I really need to brave it up and take more strenuous and longer hikes.
    CONGRATS for the blog anniversary. More power and have fun blogging!

  7. Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary. I’m not a hiker, but your photos are making me think that it looks like a great way to burn a few calories. Love the flowers on the Alpine hike, and the views over Portage Glacier and Passage Canal are truly breathtaking. Thanks for sharing you wonderful photos. 🙂

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