There’s a feeling about being surrounded by nature on all 4 sides. Nothing can compare to the sensation of seeing spectacular things with the people that we enjoy being around (although solitary hiking has its benefits, too). For that, I think of myself as a destination hiker with an interest in getting myself back into shape to press longer distances along waterfall paths, up mountains to mega vistas, and along beautiful trails, like the Standing Stone Trail, which I am very partial to as I am active in the club’s membership.
Ever since I was a little kid, I was given nature, though my dad would have liked to give me it as fishing and hunting instead. However, if not for him, I’m not sure I would have found it… even if I was too fidgety and impatient to sit still for his pursuits. That said, I wish people well at these endeavors, and if they want to share the venison…
If pressed to ask when my interest in hiking began, I would have to say it would be some time in the mid-1990s, though most of my adventures came after that. Nevertheless, the really exciting trips began with my 1998 trip across America to see the national parks for the first time. This was followed up by another cross country trip in 2000. The years 2002 and 2003 brought other trips to the deserts of the American west, and well, as I discovered waterfall kingdoms like Ricketts Glen, I became more and more hooked to see the joys of Pennsylvania and surrounding states like New York, Virginia, and West Virginia as often as I possibly could.
Having a person to travel with, my wonderful wife Heather, made many of these places all the more exciting. Together, we have seen a lot of the places that the state offers an intrepid hiker to see. Unfortunately, this year, she went out with an ACL replacement in April after an accident in Icebox Canyon, a trail in Red Rocks Canyon, which is located outside of Las Vegas, so we’ve been doing shorter walks and healing her for next season.
If I had to list a dream hike, right now I would love to see the desert beauty and prehistoric American art work that is the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon, a protected section of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. Being the kind of person who loves taking Youtube trips to the places that I don’t normally get to see, whether they are slot canyons on the Colorado Plateau or huge mountains like Mount Defiance in the Columbia River Gorge or waterfall paradises in Squamish, British Columbia, there is a feeling that the extreme and wondrous destinations of the world are gifts from God to see and experience.
If I had to list my 12 favorite places that I’ve seen in nature (in no particular order)…
1) The Standing Stone Trail – especially the Throne Room and the 1,000 Steps (Pennsylvania)
2) Zion Narrows (Utah)
3) Letchworth State Park (New York)
4) The other Ricketts Glen – Sullivan Run (Pennsylvania)
5) Big Sur (California)
6) Ithaca and its 100+ waterfalls in the 10 miles around it… Taughannock, Ludlowville, etc. (New York)
7) Bryce Canyon’s amphitheater (Utah)
8) The Wave (Arizona / Utah border)
9) Yellowstone National Park
10) Antelope Canyon (Arizona)
11) Watkin’s Glen (New York)
12) Acadia National Park (Maine)
13) Longwood Gardens is manmade, but it’s still beautiful. I’ll list it as a bonus.
10 other PA beautiful hikes…
1) Spruce Knob (Mid State Trail)
2) Pinnacle (Appalachian Trail)
3) Lower Raymondskill Falls (Poconos)
4) Lake Williams (York)
5) Blue Marsh (Berks County)
6) Hawk Rock (Appalachian Trail)
7) Lehigh Gap (Appalachian Trail)
8) Hornbeck’s Creek (Poconos)
9) Ephrata Rails to Trails
10) Flat Rock (Colonel Denning State Park)
RIP – Ricketts Glen… you were beautiful before the hordes descended upon you. On that note, leave no trace, take lots of pictures, and give back to the trails that offer you so much.
That said, I’ve never seen Yosemite, the Oregon Coast, the Columbia River Gorge, the San Rafael Swell, the Subway at Zion, Katahdin, or McAfee Knob (though we’re going there and the Smokies next Easter weekend). All of these places would be worthy of inclusion on this list.
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