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Category: US National Parks

Lyons Ranch Trail

Lyons Ranch Trail

Redwood National Park

Towering redwood trees. That’s what you think of when you come to Redwood National & State Parks. Our first hike in the park though? It would feature no redwoods. Lyons Ranch, a National Historic Site, has an easy 4.5 mile loop trail and features wide open prairies, dramatic views, and historic structures. You can see more than just trees at Redwood N&SP. Lyons Ranch Trail is in a remote section of the park called Bald Hills, near the park’s southeast…

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Dark Hollow Falls and Rose River Loop Trail

Dark Hollow Falls and Rose River Loop Trail

Shenandoah National Park

Rose River in Shenandoah National Park has been on our to-do list for awhile. Several attempts in the past floundered due to laziness or something coming up at the last minute. We’d made it to Mathews Arm Campground for the weekend, so we took the opportunity to finally hike Rose River Loop. The hike is located off Skyline Drive in Shenandoah’s Central District, across from Big Meadows Campground. We decided to make a 5.1 mile loop that included Dark Hollow Falls.

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Mathews Arm Campground

Mathews Arm Campground

Shenandoah National Park

Over the years, we’ve been to Mathews Arm Campground many times. It’s the closest campground in Shenandoah National Park to our home in the DC suburbs. It had been about a year since we had camped there, so we wanted to stay there at least once before the weather cooled off. We considered the campground to be our home-away-from-home since we found it to be well-organized, quiet, and close to hiking trails.

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Backpacking Overall Run & Beecher Ridge Trails

Backpacking Overall Run & Beecher Ridge Trails

Shenandoah National Park

I had been wanting to check out Overall Run Falls in Shenandoah National Park for some time.  At 93 feet, Overall Run Falls is the highest waterfall in the park, but you don’t hear as much about it as other waterfalls like Dark Hollow Falls or White Oak Canyon.  So on a warm spring day, we went to see for ourselves.  We planned for a one-night backpacking trip to see the falls and make a lollipop loop with Overall Run and Heiskell Hollow Trail.  Our plans changed slightly during the hike, and we returned on Beecher Ridge Trail instead of Heiskell Hollow Trail, creating an 11.6 mi lollipop…

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Best Hikes and Planning Guide

Best Hikes and Planning Guide

Saguaro National Park

The desert was kind of a new experience for us.  It had been a long time since either of us had hiked in it.  Kristin went in with a bit of trepidation, and she ended up loving the park.  So you never know what you’ll find.  And Saguaro National Park definitely surprised us as we explored.  Not really knowing what to expect, and going in with no expectations.  Here were our favorite spots in the park, as well as some tips for visiting.  We hope they help you plan your trip…

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Tucson Eats and Drinks

Tucson Eats and Drinks

Saguaro National Park

We have 2 main interests in life: the outdoors and great food. Saguaro National Park is conveniently located just outside of Tucson, so we got to check out a sampling of its restaurants on our trip. Tex-Mex Tex-Mex cuisine is seriously lacking in DC, so we were excited to try some in the southwest. Tucson Tamale is a local institution that I had read about before our trip. We visited during the week and at an off-time, so we had the…

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Garwood Trail

Garwood Trail

Saguaro National Park

Our intention was to visit as much of Saguaro National Park as we could.  Crisscrossing desert trails in the northwest corner of the Rincon Mountain (east) District are known as the Cactus Forest.  We wanted to hike somewhere up there, so we reserved a full day for it.  Our initial plan was to do a longer loop, but we were exhausted after backpacking to Manning Camp, so we decided on a shorter hike.  A ranger at the Rincon Visitor Center recommended a 4.0 mile out-and-back on Garwood Trail…

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Backpacking to Manning Camp

Backpacking to Manning Camp

Saguaro National Park

On our second to last day in Saguaro, we went to a “Star Party” at the Rincon Visitor Center.  We like astronomy, planets, and stars, so we made sure to go.  Before going outside to stargaze, the ranger at the visitor center gave us a rundown on the history of the park.  He explained how the park was created by President Herbert Hoover as a National Monument.  The ranger then said, “The park has a lot of diversity, not just the desert environment, but also the Rincon Mountains at 8,000 feet.  Up there is Manning Camp, but nobody really goes there.”  We sat there feeling slightly miffed, but also smug, because we had been at Manning Camp just two days before…

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Ringtail Loop & Signal Hill Trails

Ringtail Loop & Signal Hill Trails

Saguaro National Park

Choice is a good thing.  But with so many trails to choose from, researching ahead of time doesn’t always paint a clear picture of which trails are worth our time.  On our last day in the Tucson Mountain (west) district, we only had a half-day, since we planned to drive to Benson, AZ to begin a backpacking trip the following day.  With a limited amount of time, and only an inkling of which trail we wanted to do, we went…

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Wasson Peak via King Canyon Trail

Wasson Peak via King Canyon Trail

Saguaro National Park

On our first full day in the Tuscon Mountain (west) District of Saguaro National Park, we decided to do a day hike to Wasson Peak, the highest point in that district, at 4,687 feet.  When we left for the hike at 8:30 a.m., it was already HOT.  We wished we had left earlier.  But there was no turning back, since we were only there for a week.  Multiple trails go to Wasson Peak, but we chose to go via King Canyon…

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