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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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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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Hawksbill Summit Loop Trail

Hawksbill Summit Loop Trail

Shenandoah National Park

We’ve explored Shenandoah quite a bit, but there are many hikes we haven’t made it to.  The southern district springs to mind, as we usually frequent the closer north and central districts.  There are hikes that we haven’t done that are (according to popular opinion) some of the best the park has to offer.  If you search for best hikes in Shenandoah, Hawksbill is usually on the list. So, we traded in a humid summer day in DC for cooler…

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Isle au Haut Town via Duck Harbor Trail

Isle au Haut Town via Duck Harbor Trail

Acadia National Park

On our second day at Duck Harbor in Acadia National Park, we decided to get a taste of what it’s like to live locally on Isle au Haut.  So we made the decision to hike into town, which is the aptly named Isle au Haut Town.  It’s the only town on the island, and would be a solid day hike to get there and back.  We knew there was a general store and ranger station near the town.  We didn’t…

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Duck Harbor Mountain Trail

Duck Harbor Mountain Trail

Acadia National Park

Duck Harbor Mountain is the most prominent feature near Duck Harbor Campground.  Rising to an elevation of around 300 feet, the mountain forms the best hike near the campground too.  There are a few loops that can be created via the Duck Harbor Mountain Trail, and we chose a 4.2 mile loop.  The loop starts near Duck Harbor Campground and ascends to the summit of Duck Harbor Mountain, then heads west along the coast, and finally returns north to complete the…

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Bar Harbor & Bar Island Trail

Bar Harbor & Bar Island Trail

Acadia National Park

What’s the first thing you do after flying to Bangor, renting a car, driving to Bar Harbor, and then checking into your hotel? For us the answer was obvious: Take a hike on Bar Island, then explore Bar Harbor in search of great food. We visited Bar Harbor numerous times over the course of our trip; this post catalogs our adventures there. Bar Island Trail Bar Island, north of Bar Harbor, is part of Acadia National Park. If you find…

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Bearfence Mountain

Bearfence Mountain

Shenandoah National Park

We live relatively close to Shenandoah, but I wish we lived even closer. It can be a long drive, and sometimes we’re lazy and get a late start. Thankfully, those are the times when you can hike a shorter trail and it turns out to be pretty great. That’s what happened with Bearfence Mountain, a 1.1 mile loop. The hike has a short rock scramble that we’ve heard is good to prepare for hiking Old Rag. As we drove up…

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