Low impact 10 day loop hike in lower 48?
April 23, 2012 9:52 AM   Subscribe

My brother and I are contemplating a week to 10-day long loop ultralight hike. Ideally, it would be somewhere in the lower-48 states, and be casual, but NO mountains, so suggestions like the Appalachian or the PCT are out. It doesn't have to be wilderness, but ideally, we'd be camping all the way.
posted by crunchland to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The florida trail system could support a venture like this, no mountains included.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:59 AM on April 23, 2012

I came in to suggest Florida also. The Florida Trail is 1,400 miles long so you should be able to find a 10-day section to meet your needs.
posted by thewestinggame at 10:00 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, Florida is flat... but Utah has flat parts! I mean, lots of Utah, barring the actual mountains. One of the most gorgeous states in the country. In addition to flat, you could actually plan a half-downhill, half-flat hike for a good number of these.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 10:24 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

In addition to flat, you could actually plan a half-downhill, half-flat hike for a good number of these.

That'd be problematic for a loop hike, unless the state was designed by M.C. Escher.
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:27 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]

Be warned, the Florida Trail is not continuous; longer trails would be in national forests, but there are lots of little gems that are smaller (St. Francis and the Little Big Econ and two nearby me that I regularly enjoy.), but require car rides to get to.

While I love my home state, Florida hikes are really just "walks". There is eco-diversity, but it is usually a lot more subtle than in other regions. A lot of the land is scrubby and not very fun to hike through, especially if you've gotten there after a controlled burn. Also, the summer sucks -- very hot, punctuated by daily afternoon rain which only ups the humidity. That being said, I still hike a lot here.

If you want to tour Florida, I'd suggest maybe checking out the waterways. One option is to tour the St. John's river via kayak/canoe, perhaps starting with the smaller tributaries like the Wekiva River and working your way north, downstream (the St. John's is unusual as a north-flowing river). You can plan around riverbank campsites and hike wherever there are trails.

As another option, the Ocala National Forest has a lot of trails and Alexander Springs is nearby. If you've never been to a Florida spring, you're in for a treat - beautiful, crystal clear water at a consistent 72 degrees. (If you do my suggested Wekiva River trip, you could also check out Wekiva Springs, but it is overly commercial and not as nice as other springs, such as Blue Springs.)

Off the top of my head, another long hike in Florida is around Lake Okeechobee. However, I have not hiked that, as it's too far south for my liking. I know there is an annual hiking event around it, and I think it takes 10 days.
posted by Wossname at 1:38 PM on April 23, 2012

Oops, just saw the loop part. Not sure if there are any looping trails in Ocala, but the Okeechobee trail pretty much fits your basic requirements. But it's more of a shuttle-in, hike the day, shuttle-back to campsite kind of affair. That may be a plus or minus, depending on how you want to reconcile "ultralight" and "camping".
posted by Wossname at 1:57 PM on April 23, 2012

I've always wanted to do the West Coast Trail, which runs along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, British Colombia. Strictly speaking not in the lower 48, but pretty close --- a boat from Seattle will get you to Victoria BC. No mountains, but I believe there are some ladders. Not sure if that's too high impact.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 3:46 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

Isle Royale in Lake Superior would be a great destination under these constraints. My husband and I did a loop in the western portion that took about a week, and it was great. There is no concern about bears, which is a plus when you are going ultralight; you don't have to carry a canister or rope. We kept our packs very light and didn't miss anything we didn't bring.
posted by TrarNoir at 4:09 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]

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