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a week of day hiking in March
January 17, 2008 9:35 AM   Subscribe

need suggestions for a week of day hiking in March

my girlfriend and I are looking for someplace to go during her spring break in March. we loved day hiking in Utah last May, in Arches, Bryce Canyon, Goblin Valley, and Zion and would love to find something along those lines. national or state parks that will be warm enough in mid March but not crazy hot with decent hikes that are do-able in a day. spectacular scenery and wonderful surrounding areas are a big plus. up to a week in length, but a long weekend would work too.
camping would be fun if we can rent equipment there as i don't love my tents and they would be a pain to lug on a plane and junk.
hotel/motel staying is just fine too.
we are in the northeast US but obviously are up for travel somewhere else.
both of us are pretty fit but would prefer nothing too technical. we have not been to most other national parks so share whatever you have got!
posted by annoyance to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Glad you came to Utah. How about Yosemite. Lots of day hikes there.
posted by trbrts at 10:03 AM on January 17, 2008


well, the biggest issue with Yosemite is that we will be going in March and from their website, Yosemite (and Yellowstone and Grand Canyon and most other "big" parks) seem to be in full winter mode, not the comfortable mild weather we are hoping for.
posted by annoyance at 10:07 AM on January 17, 2008


It may not be what you're looking for (but mid-March rules out a lot of the great parks in the west), but what about exploring the coastal Carolinas? The shore down that way is beautiful. You could head to Vegas and hike in Red Rocks. You could easily put together several long hikes in that area and there are lots of options nearby.

You could also spend a week in Joshua Tree, in southern CA. I'm mostly familiar with those spots as climbing areas, but they're both stunning and well worth visiting.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 10:11 AM on January 17, 2008


There are some great day hikes in the region inland from Big Sur (central Califonia coast). I'd go into the Los Padres National Forest and the Ventana Wilderness. Climate in March is usually nice: not too hot, not too cold, might rain but probably not.
posted by anadem at 10:43 AM on January 17, 2008


Ventana
posted by hortense at 10:57 AM on January 17, 2008


A few years ago a went to Tucson & Sedona in March and found a lot of day hiking around those two areas. Pleasant temperatures.
posted by canoehead at 11:11 AM on January 17, 2008


Big Bend? There are the Everglades too
posted by flummox at 1:13 PM on January 17, 2008


I'll second Tucson. I'm not there anymore, but it's my hometown and I love it.

A fairly small city, Tucson is surrounded on three sides by the Sonoran Desert, and to the north lie the Santa Catalina Mountains. If you stay in the city you'll find that there are exquisite day hikes (and even weekend treks) available in any direction. The weather in Tucson come March can be a bit unpredictable; the last time it snowed in Tucson it was Easter. However, the climate is generally warm that time of the year (most times of the year, heh), with midday highs in the 80s and cool to very cold nights. One important thing to keep in mind is water. I'm sure you know this well, but I won't go any further without reminding you to take plenty of water out into the desert with you if you go.

OK, so...

To the East and West is the Saguaro National Park (formerly Monument). I'm much more familiar with the West end which is just on the other side of the gorgeous Tucson Mountains (more hillish than mountains, but plenty craggy and with lots of trails). You'll see saguaros. Lots of saguaros, of every imaginable shape and size. There are 1 or 2 roads that wind through the Monument on that side featuring plenty of safe places to pull over and park. Deserts often get a bum rap as being featureless wastelands, but you'll find an amazing array of flora and fauna in Sonora. Reptiles, raptors, insects, and ground mammals abound; and this desert is green! Creosote, ocotillo, palo verde, and endless varieties of gorgeous (spiny, poky) cactus spread out against breathtaking vistas. Also, to familiarize yourself with all this before venturing out on your own, I highly recommend the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum. Admission is $9 for adults. It's basically an outdoor zoo, but by far the best I've ever been to. It's a great day hike on it's own (about a mile the short way and a mile and a half if you like javelina), educationally informative, and a lot of fun.

To the North we have the Santa Catalinas, or Catalinas for short, home of the Coronado National Forest. The UofA CompSci department has a webcam pointed at them that's nice to look at. (The video vault [entire days' worth of pics] is cool too, and a good way to get an idea of weather conditions.) Driving up into the mountains is a blast with incredible vistas and tight, twisty two-laners. At the top you'll find plenty of camping and the continental United States' southernmost ski resort (which might even be open come March!), Ski Valley at Mt. Lemmon. Around the backside of the Catalinas are two of my all-time favorite day hikes: Catalina State Park and Peppersauce Canyon. Catalina is a family-type affair with a 3-mile main drag day hike, plenty of camping, and options to climb the foothills a bit if you want something longer. Marchtime will probably bring high waters (as opposed to no waters other times of the year), which is nice. Peppersauce is your destination if you want to go spelunking. There are endless networks of tiny (and not so tiny) caves to explore, and some challenging hikes up the North side of the Catalinas.

Again, I'm not so familiar with the East side of Tucson, but here's a GORP article with some good suggestions for hikes in the Rincon wilderness.

Finally, and perhaps most excellently, South from Tucson are the Aravaipa Canyon reserves and the Arivaca community (scroll down for suggested day hikes). This is the truly unspoiled part; it is a beautiful riparian wilderness. I miss it. (Sorry I don't have more here, I kinda ran out of steam.)
posted by carsonb at 1:33 PM on January 17, 2008


thanks all! especially carsonb for really selling Tucson! good suggestions all. there will be further investigations and discussions soon. some places i had not thought of or knew about.
posted by annoyance at 1:42 PM on January 17, 2008


How'd things go? Have fun?
posted by carsonb at 1:29 AM on April 25, 2008


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