Sunday, June 20, 2010

My Favorite Hike: Bryce Canyon's Navajo Loop & Peek a Boo Trails

This morning I was on a hike in Texas, on a preserved area of Texas prairie, in Fort Worth, called the Tandy Hills Natural Area. As I hiked I started thinking about all the places I have hiked.

And then I started wondering which of the places I have hiked is a trail I would hike tomorrow if I could.

I thought of the hike to Lena Lake in Olympic National Park, the hike to Ozette Beach in Olympic National Park, the hike up Mount Baker, other Cascade Mountain trails, Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park, Bright Angel Trail into the Grand Canyon.

And then I remember Bryce Canyon National Park and the Navajo Loop Trail which leads to Peek a Boo Trail. I believe this is the most scenic, most amazing, most fun and one of the most challenging hikes I've been on.

One reason hiking in Bryce Canyon is challenging is the elevation. In the 8 to 9 thousand feet above sea level range. This makes it really easy to get an oxygen debt.

In the first picture you are looking at the series of switchbacks that take you down to the Navajo Loop. Note, like entering Grand Canyon, you are heading down at the start. That elevation must be regained later. By then you're hungry and likely thirsty.

When you go down below the canyon rim the trails draw you on. With Navajo Loop you soon come to a junction that connects to Peek a Boo Trail.

Before you know it you are several miles from where you started, hiking among an otherworldly display of rock formations.

I have hiked the Navajo Loop Trail on 2 different occasions, about 20 years apart. The first time I was not in great shape. The second time I was easily able to handle the high elevation, strenuous hiking.

Staying at Ruby's Inn at the entry to Bryce is a real good thing. Great restaurants, with a very good buffet to look forward to after burning a lot of calories seeing a lot of incredible scenery.

As I continue to think about it I may remember another hike that I like even better than the ones at Bryce Canyon, but I doubt that's going to happen.

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