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Rapidan Camp Loop Trail

Rapidan Camp Loop Trail

Shenandoah National Park

Spring is a great time to go for a hike and see wildflowers in Shenandoah National Park. This time, we decided on a hike to Rapidan Camp in the Central District. The camp was a summer getaway for President Herbert Hoover between 1929 and 1933. It is also important as it helped initiate the construction of Skyline Drive. In 1933, the Hoovers donated the land to Shenandoah National Park. It was later used as both a boy scout camp and…

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Garfield Peak Trail

Garfield Peak Trail

Crater Lake National Park

On our final day in Crater Lake National Park, we checked out of Crater Lake Lodge, and simply walked to our trail. Garfield Peak Trail begins just off of Rim Village Drive adjacent to the lodge, though we wouldn’t reach the trailhead sign for 0.2 miles. With easy access from the lake’s south rim, the trail is convenient and popular. Garfield Peak was named after James Rudolph Garfield, who was Secretary of the Interior when the park was established in…

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Watchman Peak Trail

Watchman Peak Trail

Crater Lake National Park

Visiting Crater Lake National Park in late July means dealing with snow. Yes, somewhat hard to believe, but it’s true. When we arrived in the park, some hikes were still closed due to snow. Luckily for us, a park ranger we met on our lake tour mentioned that Watchman Peak had opened two days ago! So that’s where we headed that afternoon. Watchman Peak Trail is a 1.7 mile out and back hike with views of Crater lake, including the…

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Plaikni Falls & Pinnacles Trails

Plaikni Falls & Pinnacles Trails

Crater Lake National Park

Pinnacles Road runs through the southeast part of Crater Lake National Park. This road was once the eastern entrance to the park, but has fallen into disuse. Along the road are a couple of must-see attractions: Plaikni Falls and the Pinnacles. Plaikni Falls Trail, a 2.0 mile hike dotted with wildflowers, ends at a waterfall. Pinnacles Trail is a unique 0.8 mile hike that features pumice spires, remnants from the area’s volcanic past. We had just finished hiking Mount Scott,…

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Mount Scott Trail

Mount Scott Trail

Crater Lake National Park

So far in Crater Lake National Park, we had hiked some lesser known trails like Boundary Springs. It was finally time to do some more “popular” hikes. Today we decided to hike Mount Scott, a 4.3 mile out and back trail located on the eastern side of the park. The trail ascends 1318 feet, and features views of Crater Lake and the surrounding mountains. Mount Scott is the highest point in Crater Lake National Park at 8929 feet and is…

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Stony Man Trail

Stony Man Trail

Shenandoah National Park

We don’t usually hike in the winter. It’s cold (obviously), and daylight is lacking. Ice and downed trees often close off Skyline Drive, so you can’t access most of Shenandoah National Park. We had been trying to hike for weeks in Shenandoah, but the central district had been closed. I’m not a fan of winter and was eager to put it behind me. Finally, with some warmer weekend weather, we found ourselves hiking Stony Man Trail. It was getting warmer…

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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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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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Gilbert Ray Campground

Gilbert Ray Campground

Saguaro National Park

There are no car campgrounds in Saguaro National Park.  It’s unfortunate, but thankfully there is one close by.  Gilbert Ray Campground is inside Tucson Mountain Park, which is run by Pima County.  It’s adjacent to the southern border of the similarly named Tucson Mountain District (that’s the west district) of Saguaro National Park.  The campground is only 3 miles away from Saguaro NP, so it’s practically part of the park.  We used it as our basecamp for the time we…

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Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Saguaro National Park

As a teacher, I’m always ready for a vacation by the time spring break rolls around. Since it’s only a week, we usually plan on a park that we can really explore in that time frame. In 2017, we ditched a chilly, windy April in DC for a week in Tucson. It felt pretty good as we left the airport and felt the arid climate for the first time. We headed to Gilbert Ray Campground to check in for our…

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