Filling your car with gas and competing for parking at the trailhead is so blasé.
Especially for the weekend warriors among us, the easy default is to stick with transportation we know—when we’re working out the logistics of a hiking route, mountain bike ride or longer bike trip, we tend to push the task of working out actual transport from our houses to the trailhead to the bottom of the list. But what if we flipped the script?
We’re all for carpooling and coordinating rides, but what if we resolved to get more creative about how we get to the trailhead? In many cities, it's often simpler, cheaper and greener to hop on the municipal light rail or bus to access your day's adventure. Not only is it simply in accordance with our inherent drive to protect the wild places we love (reducing greenhouse emissions is only one positive environmental impact), we can also redefine our relationships with the spaces in between our homes and the trailheads.
Have you ever walked down a street you normally cruise by in your car? Ever notice a whole world of details that had previously flown by in a blur outside of your window? We’re convinced that opting into a different mode of transportation can completely restructure our relationships with spaces that once simply stood in the way of us and the trailhead.
We all are so quick to refer to the wilderness and the backcountry as "sacred space." But we’d like to challenge the notion that the city spaces upon which our homes, the coffee shop that fuels our dawn patrol, and the highway that helps us hightail it to adventure are perched aren’t equally as sacred.
Being more intentional and creative about the way we access adventure helps us recreate our relationships with space in general, and we know that when our heartstrings thrum in response to a special place, we’re so much more motivated to protect it. And if somehow, you’re still unfamiliar with the principles of Leave No Trace, this is the perfect time to dive in and learn them by heart.
The adventures below don’t necessarily require specialized modes of transportation, but the adventure itself is completely transformed when we leave a boring ol’ car out of the equation.
Silverton, Colorado, is a hiker, backpacker, and backcountry skier’s dreamland. Nestled into the San Juan Mountains and just over the pass from Chicago Basin, an explorer could spend a lifetime poking around the craggy peaks and arid forests.
Often renowned as the birthplace of mountain biking (though we know these claims are always controversial), Mount Tamalpais State Park is a San Francisco city dweller’s choice escape from the hustle. By car, it’s relatively simple to access in theory, but weekend traffic can turn a 40-minute drive into a stop-and-go nightmare. On a bike, it’s just about 15 miles to the trailhead. That’s seriously doable.
And we maintain that it should be a right of passage for every San Francisco resident to bike across the Golden Gate Bridge!
Christof Teuscher is a serious athlete. By the numbers, his monumental feat of summiting Mount Adams, running to Mount Hood, and summiting required 64 hours and 48 minutes, 158 miles, and 39,754 feet of elevation gain.
Though we’re not suggesting anyone attempt the same adventure on the same timeline without professional-level experience and preparation, he reminds us that the Pacific Crest Trail stretches between the two topographical titans of the Pacific Northwest. Have a week and snowy summit knowledge? Why not?
New York's public rail system reaches 74 miles into the Hudson River Valley along the Hudson-North Railroad Line. Its bucolic beauty, artisanal vegetables, and woodlands are available to all New Yorkers for a nominal fee. Forget traffic; take a book.
We can say with confidence that there’s no better way to explore the very uppermost northwest corner of the contiguous United States than by kayak.
The wealth of sea life, the crisp salty air, and the sweeping views are simply better enjoyed in a boat. When you’re exploring by kayak, you’ll have much better access to remote camping sites, harder-to-access trails, and beach walks with not a soul in sight.
Camping, hiking, fishing, and soaking in deep solitude is best done by canoe in the one-million-acre Northern Minnesota Boundary Waters. National Geographic calls it one of the 100 best American adventure trips. Brush up on your survivalist skills, grab a few extra drybags, pull out your map, and prepare for one of the very best motor-less adventures.
One of the best Alaskan parties of the year takes place on the annual Ski Train party. Departing from Anchorage, the train winds its way north to Curry—a remote area north of Talkeetna. Most dress up, there’s always live music and games, and once you’re there the cross-country and snowshoe terrain serves all levels of skiers and hikers.
We don’t think we’ll be met with much contention when we say that Glacier National Park is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. They don’t call Montana the big-sky country for nothing.
But in the summer months, the tourists definitively flock. So instead of getting stuck behind a minivan that’s pulling over for every bighorn sheep, hop on the Amtrak and explore Two Medicine Valley, Going-to-the-Sun Road, and Lake McDonald Valley the better way.