Cholla cacti on the Yaqui Well Trail.
The Yaqui Well Trail is a leisurely stroll through cholla, ocotillo and agave on your way to the more dense vegetation around the well itself, which was a vital source of water to the Kumeyaay tribe that once inhabited this portion of what is now California’s Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
The well-marked trail starts across the street from the Tamarisk Grove campground and is an easy walk that reaches the well after about a mile. Brochures at the trail head describe various features of interest along the trail. The well itself is marked only by a sign among the greenery saying it’s closed for restoration.
Looking down into the slot canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
The Slot Canyon area of Anza Borrego Desert State Park gives you a look into yet another dimension of the diverse park.
There are a couple different ways to get down into the slot canyon from the parking lot. I walked around the ridge to the right side of the lot and climbed down on the far side. It’s a bit easier than sliding straight down from the parking lot, although that is the quickest option.
However, you make your way down, you then wind your way through the slot, with its steep walls and slim passages. A rock that has wedged itself 50 feet up between the canyon walls is the most notable feature. Once you see this, you can turn back the way you came or (as I did), keep going until you see a branch off to the right. You can follow this for awhile until it peters out and then do some rock scrambling over unmarked terrain until you loop back to where you started. Even this more adventurous route is less than 2 miles total, but it gives you some new scenery and a chance to look down at the canyon you just passed through.
The Stanfield Marsh Boardwalk is an easy stroll on a raised boardwalk over the south shore of Big Bear Lake. There are lots of ducks swimming about below and the boardwalk is a popular place for visitors. It’s about 1.5 miles round-trip if you walk the entire boardwalk from end-to-end.
View of Big Bear Lake from the Alpine Pedal Path.
The Alpine Pedal Path is an easy stroll near the north shore of Big Bear Lake. You can start either at the Stanfield Cutoff or the boat launch at the east or at a small dirt parking area just off North Shore Drive near the Solar Observatory at the west end.
The path itself is suitable for joggers, hikers, bikers, children and pets. It’s 100% paved, mostly flat and winds through pine forest, past meadows, a campground and some RV resorts, but you only get a good look at the lake near the east end. The path is about 2.5 miles from end-to-end.
View looking east from the Lake to Cove Trail in La Quinta
One of the most popular of the La Quinta cove’s many hikes is to Cove to Lake Trail, also called the Morrow Trail. It’s so named because the trailhead starts at the top of the La Quinta cove and winds around a mountain to Lake Cahuilla.
The full trail is about 3 miles long and can be done as a thru-hike if you drop a car or arrange to be picked up from the lake. You can also start at Lake Cahuilla County Park and hike thru to the cove, but there are fees to enter.
Kautz Creek Trail in Mount Rainier National Park
Due to its lower elevation, beginning at about 2,400 feet above sea level, towering forest is the defining view as you hike up the Kautz Creek Trail on the slope of Mount Ararat in Mount Rainier National Park.
The trail begins off Highway 706 and remains relatively flat as it heads north through the valley, crossing Kautz Creek around one mile in.
Once you cross the creek, the trail climbs steeply through the forest as it starts to head up the hill. Due to time constraints, I made it about two miles with an elevation gain of about 1,100 feet from the trailhead before having to turn back. There are no real breaks in the tree cover up to that point.
The trail continues to give views of Mount Ararat and Indian Henrys Hunting Ground. For more information, VisitRainier.com has an excellent write-up on the full Kautz Creek Trail.
View of the peak of Mount Rainier.
Skyline Trail is probably the most popular trail in Mount Rainier National Park – and it’s not an easy one! The trail begins at the popular Paradise Jackson Visitors Center at around 5,400 feet of elevation on the south slope of Mount Rainier. And the Skyline Trail just goes up from there… it’s called the Skyline Trail – what did you expect?
Head toward the peak by following signs for the Skyline Trail – as you get higher, you’ll get a great view of the Nisqually Glacier to the west. The river valley it spawns can be seen as it spirals down toward the park entrance. The dense pine forest at Paradise will give way to a tundra-like terrain with fewer trees as you gain elevation. Eventually, there will be signs to point you to Pebble Creek (at 7200′ and about 2.2 miles from Paradise) or Panorama Point (at 6800′). I made it as high as Pebble Creek and if you want to head higher toward Camp Muir (at over 10,000′ of elevation), you should make sure you know the unmarked way.
You can pick several trails to return: the way you came (which I did on the second day), from Panorama Point via the Golden Gate Trail (the one I took on my first day), or swing further east on the Skyline.
View of Nisqually Glacier at Glacier Vista near Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park.
If you don’t have the time or energy to make it higher on the popular Skyline Trail, a moderate trip up to Glacier Vista is a great way to spend a day in Mount Rainier National Park.
The trail begins at the hub of activity – the Paradise Jackson Visitors Center at around 5,400 feet of elevation on the south slope of Mount Rainier. You can take a variety of trails to reach the vista, which is named for the spectacular view of the Nisqually Glacier that snakes down the slope. I started on the Skyline Trail, then veered onto the Waterfall Trail, which will connect with the Deadhorse Creek Trail. That eventually merges back with Skyline and just a bit past that, the spur Glacier Trail gives you the best view of the ice to the west. At this point, you’ll have gained almost 1,000 feet in elevation over about 1.5 miles.
The quickest and easiest way back to the Visitors Center is to jump back on the Skyline Trail and take it straight south back to the end. And if you’re feeling adventurous, keep heading up the mountain on the Skyline for even better views.
Low tide off the beach at Papageno Resort.
Papageno Resort on Kadavu Island has kayaks and paddles for guest use… so use them!
The waters around Papageno tend to be pretty calm and clear, making for great kayaking. You’ll float above an abundance of sea life and coral, and you can paddle into a cluster of mangroves, where the tannen from the trees turn the water from crystal blue to a dark tea.
Once you head past the protection of Skipper Fish Island (we named it after the fish that skimmed along the water’s surface around the isle), the winds can pick up a bit.
You can paddle east around the point past the island into Daku Bay. If you continue on and hug the coastline, you’ll come to the village of Naivakarauniniu, Unless you have made arrangements with the village elders, it’s recommended that you respect the villagers’ privacy and not enter. They are extremely friendly to guests but would prefer to know of their arrival in advance.
A mangrove tree on the path from Papageno Resort to Naivakarauniniu.
The village of Naivakarauniniu is about a one mile hike east from Papageno Resort on Kadavu Island on a well-marked trail that can still be slippery and muddy if it has been raining.
The path winds past a mangrove cluster and the over a murky stream with a rocky bridge. The trail slopes gently up and down, although it never rises more than about 70 above sea level. Most of the trail is through the rainforest and the ocean is only visible at the beginning.
Unless you have made arrangements with the village elders, it’s recommended that you stop when you see the village’s cemetery and turn back to respect the villagers’ privacy. They are extremely friendly to guests but would prefer to know of their arrival in advance.