The Pacific Northwest abounds with hiking trails that take you from the Rocky Mountains of Montana and onto the cliffs of the Pacific coast.
Yellowstone National Park – National Park Service – Wyoming/Idaho/Montana
Given the fact that this park is the size of some small countries and states, Yellowstone National Park has more hiking trails than you could imagine. With hundreds of miles of trails that extend across several states and across the Continental divide. Both day trip hikes and extended backcountry expeditions can be planned in Yellowstone with a truly endless supply of locations. Go from hiking along a roaring river and into a plateau surrounded by thermal hot springs and paint pots and across the continental divide into a valley that will drop your jaw. You need to be bear aware and also aware of the other animals in the park such as Bison, Moose, and Elk and you will see more wildlife than you ever thought possible. If that is not enough park for you, right next door is the Teton National Park with another seemingly endless supply of trail-heads.
The Beartooth-Absorka Wilderness area – National Forestry Service – Montana
This is part of the “Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem” and across the mountains from Yellowstone National park in Montana. This Wilderness area is home to both day hikes and backcountry hikes. There is a hike in the area that will take you to a crystal clear alpine lake surrounded by snow capped peaks and jagged cliffs, this is Elk Lake. Just one of the many pristine locations that are situated along trails that will take you into areas that the Mountain Men Jim Bridger, Jed Smith, and John Johnston would have lived and trapped. Rivers and screams snake their way down the mountain trails giving you plenty of locations to stop and have some fresh water after you filter it of course. Wildlife includes Mountain Lions, Grizzly bears, wolves, badgers, and wolverines as well as their food sources. So be aware that they are in charge and you are visiting.
Olympic National Park – National Park Service – Washington
Given the rare chance, most people have to see both mountains and coastal ecosystems collide, head on over to Olympic and see just that, coastal mountains. With hiking trails that will take along rocky mountains that will remind you of being in Montana, but breaking out into cliffs that overlook the Pacific ocean. This park has trails that extend to both valleys and into two different coastal areas so you will have no shortage of areas to find places to leave footprints. Bring your camera as you will be taken on a journey from mountains to the coast with rivers, lakes, waterfalls, and beautiful green and lush forests. You simply will have no trouble finding beauty and you will kick yourself in the pants should you forget your camera.
The Pacific Northwest holds the key to many trails that will take you on pristine hiking adventures that will take you back to a time before man built cities. Here’s a few to get you started. Remember to leave only footprints!