Hiking Off the Beaten Path

Dinosaur fossils, tipi rings, hidden canyons, wolf tracks, waterfalls, wildflowers, abandoned homesteads, petroglyphs, pictographs, coyote dens – you never know what you might find when you step off the trail.

Perfect light on an evening stroll. (Photo: B.Kopp)

It’s one of the things I love about canoe camping trips. After setting up the tent and hiding the coolers in the shade, we wander without a set goal in mind. There’s always a hill to climb, a canyon to walk up, a shoreline to explore. It’s pure outdoor adventure.

Rarely are time limits set. Sometime the hikes are short; sometimes long. They can be flat jaunts along the river bottom or steep climbs up cliffs.

The pace is slow, the destination flexible and the rewards sometimes as simple as finding an odd-shaped hoodoo or as amazing as the fossilized backbone of a dinosaur.

There are bird’s nests, shed snake’s skin, agates, flint-knapping sites, endless vistas and clear pools of water perfect for a dip. That’s the beauty of wandering – you never know what you might find around the next corner or over the next hill.

Timely tips:
For short after-dinnner strolls, pack a camera and enjoy the freedom of sandals; for morning hikes, pack a pack with the essentials and throw on a pair of hiking shoes.

What’s been your favorite or most unusual discovery when hiking off the beaten path?

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