Speaking strictly about the outdoors, this year has been a year to remember and provided indescribable joy. I fulfilled my recent life goal of moving to Washington and tried to maximize every minute I could outside. My top hikes, three of which were in California and the rest in Washington, are below, and I hope you enjoy this quick trek down memory lane.
10. Enchantments Backpacking Trip
For most, this would be one of the top hikes of the year, but I backpacked the Enchantments in 2018, so you could say it lost its… enchantment. (Okay, I’ll see myself out.)
A cold spring also kept the snow around, making for a slightly less beautiful area to explore. Still, it’s marvelous up in the Core Zone and a trip I won’t forget.
9. Sunset at Potato Harbor
The least visited place on this list, Potato Harbor, is on the Channel Islands, which requires a boat to reach. Furthermore, the only way to enjoy the sunset is if you camp overnight, which requires camping permits.
I think we shared the view with two other people. Talk about amazing.
8. Chain Lakes Loop
This is one of the most popular hikes in the fall in Washington. And, because we were new to the state, there was no way we were going to pass it up. A very early start from Seattle still had us encountering a parking lot that looked more like a zoo.
However, the views opened up once we went hiking, and we fell in love with the vibrant fall colors.
7. Mesquite Sand Dunes
There’s no established trail for the Mesquite Sand Dunes, so it’s a choose-your-own-adventure. But we did pick the highest point on the dunes and pointed out feet in that direction. Even though it’s only two miles out, it takes much longer as the sand slows you down.
Moving slowly does have its benefits. You get more time to soak in the views.
6. Thorp Mountain Lookout
This was my first opportunity to see Washington’s famed wildflowers. I quickly fell in love and had to be almost literally pulled off the mountain after sunset.
I could have stayed forever up there as the colorful flowers, coupled with a lake below and Mt. Rainier in the distance, were too grand. There’s no doubt this was one of my top 2023 hikes!
5. Skyline Loop Trail
If you’re looking for a variety of terrain, this is your trail. It starts with a gorgeous waterfall before winding your way through gorgeous flowers, then a serene, lush river basin, before it leaves you with 270-degree views of Mt. Rainer, Mt. Adams, and the entire southern Washington cascades.
At only 6 miles, it’s doable for most hikers and will surely be one of your favorite hikes, too!
4. Cutthroat Pass
My last “big hike” of 2023 was a blast! We headed to Methow Valley (east side of the North Cascades) to avoid smokes and got our full share of larches. Their golden needle-like leaves glowed at sunrise and produced the most stunning colors.
It was indeed an experience to remember.
3. Boyscout Tree Trail
One of my 2023 highlights was road-tripping from Santa Barbara through Yosemite and then up to Redwood National Park. I’d never been before, and it quickly became one of my favorite places I’ve ever visited.
The immensely tall trees, paired with a floor covered in green ferns, were idyllic. It was a memorable trip and one I’ll never forget.
2. Summiting Vesper Peak
Now, we’re getting to the “classic Alec” hikes that not everyone will want to suffer through. This four-mile, 4,000-foot summit push was hard. I started cramping up about a mile from the summit and didn’t know if I’d make it.
Thankfully, I did and was rewarded with some truly spectacular views.
1. Sahale Glacier Camp Overnight
There’s no debate here. Sahale Glacier Camp was my top 2022 hike. It had everything; bears, mountain goats, great people, and stunning views. Getting the chance to sleep high up in the North Cascades National Park is truly an overwhelming experience.
This gave me the most joy of any hike this year and will be a hard one to top going forward.
Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.
This originally appeared on ExploreWithAlec.com