Outdoors in the Pacific Northwest

Something you will find that is very north American are "Trails". In fact, "National Trails" are a type of unit in the U.S. National Park System, and National Trails Day is celebrated in June. These creations of past and present human endeavor offer up America's vast landscapes as places to be experienced step-by-step, again and again by succeeding generations.

The Trails honor past achievements, and modern sensibilities towards nature, and in doing so allow the individual to reclaim the challenge of exploring a new landscape. The Trails are icons in their own right, keeping alive a vital part of the American imagination.

The Northwest is criss-crossed with both historical and recreational Trails-with-a-capital-"T"! (In addition to the nationally recognized trails, as described here, are the myriad routes familiar to residents and local biking, boating and mountaineering clubs.)

U.S. Trail Information Center
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching America's communities and countryside by creating a nationwide network of public trails from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Their web site has information on rail-trails around the United States including Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Each state has a list of trail summaries that include local contact, trail endpoint, trail length, type of trail surface, and icons indicating the type of uses for which the particular rail-trail is best suited.

Applegate Trail (historic)
The southern route of the Oregon Trail through Nevada, northeastern California, and Oregon:

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (recreational)
Vividly described as "the backbone of the world", the Continental Divide literally divides the waters of the North American Continent. The Divide runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains, from Canada to Mexico, and in our segment of the Pacific Northwest, it is found in Montana only. Waters running west of the Divide feed the Columbia River and drain into the Gulf of Mexico. Waters flowing east feed the Missouri-Mississippi Basin and drain into the Gulf of Mexico. From one point in Montana, Glacier Park's Triple Divide Peak, water also flows north to Hudson Bay, making Montana the only part of the Divide that replenishes three Oceans. The topography of the Divide varies greatly. Sometimes on ridges you can actually see the water dividing at your feet, as you might imagine. In other places the Divide is obscure as it meanders across broad plateaus.

The Trail was established by Congress in 1968 to ensure it remained accessible to hikers, horseback riders, and in some places, motorists. About 800 miles (1,300 km) of the trails entire 3,100-mile (5,000-km) length passes through Montana. Here it takes in Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, as well as 10 national forests with designated wilderness areas, and the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge for trumpeter swans. Historic attractions along the trail include several ghost towns, and two mountain passes crossed by Lewis and Clark in their famous exploration of 1804-6.

Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
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Nez Perce National Historic Trail
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Oregon Trail

The Oregon Trail
Created by Mike Trinklein and Steve Boettcher, teachers and makers of the award-winning documentary film The Oregon Trail, this site includes a thorough history of the Trail, descriptions and pictures of its historic sites, and obscure "Fantastic Facts" about events that happened along the way. There is also an online Study Guide can be printed and duplicated for classroom use.

The Pacific Crest Trail (recreational)
The Pacific Crest Trail originated and continues to exist today, with a vision to enable a continuous hiking experience along the western edge of north America. The 2,650 miles of the Trail connects high country from Canada to Mexico. The Trail now spans eight national parks and monuments, five state parks, twenty-four national forests, thirty-two wilderness areas, and three Bureau of Land Management districts.

Implementing the vision began in the late 1920s and culminated in 1968 with its designation by Congress as a National Scenic Trail. While the Trail is complete in that there is a trail with right-of-way access along its entire length, the work to enhance its integrity continues. Portions of the Trail require travel on unsafe, unaesthetic, busy roads. Twelve percent of the trail is on private land, and some easements provided by landowners are as narrow as five feet. Yet the Trail has its organized supporters, and the Pacific Crest Trail Association works with the federal government to resolve these issues.

Each year, about 100-150 hardy "through-hikers" attempt the trail's entire length. Others rise to the challenge of border-to-border hikes within a state. Thousands will use segments of the Trail, as they enjoy the great outdoors.

Elevation Profiles of PCT Segments
Each segment is illustrated with an easy-to-read graph.

Pacific Crest Trail - Northern Washington Section
A guide covering the Pacific Crest Trail as it traverses the North Cascade Mountains in the state of Washington.  This section of the Pacific Crest Trail runs 70 miles between Interstate 91 at Snoqualmie Pass and Route 2 at Stevens Pass. Generally it would take an average of five to seven days to hike this entire section. The hiker will pass a half dozen classic high alpine lakes each day along the trail, each one a prime destination in itself.

Pacific Crest Trail Association
The mission of the Association is to promote and protect the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail so as to reflect its world-class significance for the enjoyment, education and adventure of hikers and equestrians.

The Pacific Northwest Trail (recreational)
The PNT extends from Brown Pass at the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park, Montana to Cape Alava at Olympic National park, Washington. The PNT is an east-west route that uses existing trails and roads. It crosses seven national forests, three national parks, and some private and state land.

Pacific Northwest Trail Association
The mission of the Pacific Northwest Trail Association is to promote, protect, construct and maintain the Pacific Northwest Trail as a public service project that makes a lasting contribution to America's environment and to the next generations.

The Trail of the Great Bear (recreational)
An international scenic corridor that links the USA's Yellowstone National Park to Canada's Banff National Park. It takes in many ruggedly beautiful landscapes including Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, and the Flathead Valley.

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