Top 10 Hikes in 2018

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Whiteoak Canyon Trail, Shenandoah National Park, April 2018

The start of the new year offers a time to reflect on the year that was: although other commitments slowed my rate of production in 2018, I still managed to add 37 new posts during the year to Live and Let Hike. Like usual, the quest for hiking had me crisscrossing the country in 2018—from New Hampshire in May to Colorado in September. Most posts, though, featured day hikes closer to home, many from a series of trips through the Mid-Atlantic region, including jaunts in Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Virginia. The Civil War and Revolutionary War series continued to expand, and readership crested new heights with more than 173,000 page views throughout the year (although barely surpassing 2017’s total of 167,000).

In 2018, the top 5 most visited posts (excluding the home page) were all from my previous years living out West: (1) Top 10 Hikes in Capitol Reef National Park’s “Frontcountry”; (2) Top 10 Hikes in Capitol Reef National Park’s “Backcountry”; (3) Peekaboo and Spooky Gulch Loop (Grand Staircase-Escalante NM, UT); (4) ; and Chesler Park Loop Trail, including Joint Trail (Canyonlands National Park, UT); and (5) Capitol Reef Hiking Guide.

This year’s top-viewed posts, however, were all from hikes within a couple hours’ drive of Washington, DC: (1) Big Devils Stairs (Shenandoah National Park, VA); (2) Whiteoak Canyon – Cedar Run Trail Loop (Shenandoah National Park, VA); (3) Duncan Knob and Strickler Knob Loop (George Washington National Forest, VA); (4) Billy Goat Trail – Section C (Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, MD); and (5) Mount Marshall Loop (Shenandoah National Park, VA).

As is tradition, below is a review of my top ten favorite hikes completed in 2018, ranked in reverse order.

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Tracks in the Sand Trail, Jockey’s Ridge State Park, December 2018

10. Tracks in the Sand Trail (Jockey’s Ridge State Park, NC)

An unusual pick for a non-beach goer, but Jockey’s Ridge on the Outer Banks of North Carolina is no ordinary beach: this underrated state park features the highest sand dunes on the East Coast. The Tracks in the Sand Trail treks through the heart of the sunny dune field, which can feel like an otherworldly experience for those used to hiking on hard-packed trails amid tall trees. The stem-and-loop hike is good for families and includes a visit to the shores of windy Roanoke Sound.

See my post on December 29, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Mount Marshall Loop, Shenandoah National Park, June 2018

9. Mount Marshall Loop (Shenandoah National Park, VA)

Mount Marshall—named for the famed Chief Justice—is one of the highest in Shenandoah National Park’s North District and offers two excellent vistas in a park largely shrouded in dense forest. The 13-mile Mount Marshall Loop, which includes the Bluff Trail and a section of the Appalachian Trail, makes for a long but relatively mild day hike.

See my post on September 26, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Upper Fisk Creek Falls Trail, Routt National Forest, September 2018

8. Upper Fish Creek Falls (Routt National Forest, CO)

September brought me to the Steamboat Springs area in northern Colorado, which boasts Fish Creek Falls, the second-highest waterfall in the state. While the lower falls are the primary draw, a longer, 4.2-mile out-and-back offers access to the more secluded Upper Fish Creek Falls, situated in a hanging valley in the Park Range. The hike also features beautiful aspen groves and tremendous views down toward Steamboat.

See my post on December 29, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Mount Tammany Trail, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, May 2018

7. Mount Tammany Loop (Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, NJ)

At Delaware Water Gap, the Delaware River separates Pennsylvania from New Jersey and carves a picturesque cut through the Kittatinny Mountain range. One of the most popular hikes in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the Mount Tammany Loop climbs to one of the area’s highest viewpoints. The excellent vista offers a bird’s eye view of the gap, while the start of the hike strolls along a charming stream with minor cascades.

See my post on September 20, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Rabbit Ears Peak Trail, Routt National Forest, September 2018

6. Rabbit Ears Peak Trail (Routt National Forest, CO)

One of the most iconic sights of the Steamboat Springs area, Rabbit Ears Peak—topped with volcanic crags—is a stone’s throw from the Continental Divide and overlooks vast valleys to the north and south. A moderately difficult climb of 2.6 miles (one-way) leads through open meadows and pine forests to the summit.

See my post on December 29, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Mount Monadnock, Monadnock State Park, May 2018

5. Mount Monadnock via White Dot Trail (Monadnock State Park, NH)

On a clear day, hikers can see all the way to Boston from the top of New Hampshire’s Mount Monadnock, one of the most-climbed peaks in the world. Derived from an Abenaki word, “monadnock” is used by geologists to describe a mountain that stands alone, rising abruptly from a plain and separate from a broader mountain range. That means 360 panoramic views from the windy summit—a destination that requires conquering around 1,800 feet in elevation gain in less than two miles.

See my post on August 11, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Big Devils Stairs, Shenandoah National Park, March 2018

4. Big Devils Stairs (Shenandoah National Park, VA)

Situated in Shenandoah’s North District, Big Devils Stairs is a wildly scenic series of cascades that tumbles southward through a stony gorge. While the hike to an overlook overlooking the canyon is a worthy enough endeavor, the real treat lies in the off-trail, rugged climb back to the top, best completed in early spring when the water levels are high and there is less foliage to block the way. This alternative route involves scrambling and creek-hopping amid the beautiful cascades and high canyon walls.

See my post on April 8, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Strickler Knob, George Washington National Forest, April 2018

3. Duncan Knob and Strickler Knob Loop (George Washington National Forest, VA)

Duncan Knob and Strickler Knob are two of the most stunning summits along lengthy Massanutten Mountain in northern Virginia and can be reached in one long and relatively strenuous loop hike. A minor rock scramble is required to reach the top of Duncan Knob, while the spur to Strickler Knob seems to go on forever—but visitors are rewarded with fantastic views of the Shenandoah Valley and mid-Appalachians. Definitely one of Virginia’s best hikes.

See my post on July 7, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Hahns Peak Trail, Routt National Forest, September 2018

2. Hahns Peak Trail (Routt National Forest, CO)

When viewed from below, the volcanic summit of Hahns Peak appears to be an intimidating challenge, towering over the Yampa River Valley in northern Colorado. Yet reaching the summit requires less than two miles of hiking and a relatively modest ascent. From the lookout tower at the top, panoramic views unfold of the Elkhead Mountains, Park Range, and Steamboat Lake.

See my post on December 28, 2018 for a full trail description.

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Whiteoak Canyon Trail, Shenandoah National Park, April 2018

1. Whiteoak Canyon – Cedar Run Trail Loop (Shenandoah National Park, VA)

Never mind the sizeable crowds on most days, Shenandoah’s Whiteoak Canyon-Cedar Run Loop is hands-down one of the best hikes in Virginia—and perhaps the Mid-Atlantic region. Especially in spring, the circuit’s bevy of splendid waterfalls and high canyon walls are simply stunning: what Whiteoak Canyon offers in awe-inspiring falls, Cedar Run matches with serenity and majestic cascades. Visitors will have to work, however: the hike climbs all the way from the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains to Skyline Drive at the top, gaining more than 2,000 feet in elevation.

See my post on July 9, 2018 for a full trail description.

Honorable Mention:

This entry was posted in Colorado, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, Easy Hikes, George Washington National Forest, Moderate Hikes, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Outer Banks, Routt National Forest, Shenandoah National Park, Strenuous Hikes, Virginia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Top 10 Hikes in 2018

  1. M.B. Henry says:

    Wow – looks like a year of fabulous hikes!

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