How I spent my summer vacation

Stillwater, Minnesota, hike

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Sun Lakes Hiking Club members were recently asked to recommend memorable summer hikes they’ve taken in locales outside of the Valley of the Sun. These hikes may be of interest to those who return to the northern states or Canada for the summer, plan to vacation away from the Phoenix area during the hot months or simply travel to higher elevations in Arizona when the heat becomes overwhelming.

One member described a favorite hike, Paradise Park, in Northwest Oregon. The hike is about 10 miles roundtrip and six to seven hours in duration. The trailhead can be found behind Timberline Lodge; it’s best to check with the Forest Service prior to starting out on this hike, as there’s a stream crossing which can be challenging, depending on conditions. At trail’s end, hikers are treated to a sight of the snow-capped summit of Mt. Hood above them, and from mid-late summer, the entire area is carpeted with wildflowers of every color.

Another member suggested a unique hike in Stillwater, Minnesota, a small river town on the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, set on steep bluffs overlooking a national scenic river, the St. Croix. Numerous old staircases there, with accumulated elevation gains of 1000+ feet, provide great workouts for hikers who can enjoy the town’s historic buildings and river views at the same time.

Several SLHC members gave the Appalachian Trail a thumbs-up. A popular plan for hiking the AT is to chalk up different segments on separate occasions, as through-hiking is physically demanding and requires a substantial time commitment.

One group of SLHC members, who refer to themselves as “true desert rats,” find hiking among the trees in the higher elevations of Arizona refreshing during the summertime. They have explored Yeager Canyon on Mingus Mountain, Salida Gulch/John’s Tank/Lynx Lake, Wolf Creek Loop and Garden Grove/Miller Creek Loop in Prescott National Forest, Woods Canyon Lake in Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, and Pine Canyon just below the Mogollon Rim in the Tonto National Forest.

Responses also included endorsements for several travel companies which offer hiking trips. Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) offers small group hiking trips abroad and charges no single supplement fee. Road Scholar provides an impressive array of small group domestic and international trip choices, including active multi-generational trips for families. Road Scholar hiking programs in Death Valley, California, the Cotswolds and Cornwall in England and the Canadian Rockies received top reviews from SLHC members who have participated in them. Contrary to its name, with Vermont Biking Tours (VBT), one can also experience small group walking tours in the U.S. and abroad. A highlight of the Amalfi Coast tour is walking the heralded Path of the Gods and savoring panoramic views of the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

Perhaps these recommendations will be useful to readers as they make plans to beat the heat in future summers.

Hiking continues unofficially on Monday mornings during September. If you are interested in September hiking, please contact Stu Frost at 602-332-5676 or email him at [email protected]

The hiking season for the Sun Lakes Hiking Club is November through April. The official scheduled hikes are described on the club website