Pemi Loop

A hiker on Half Dome's cable route in Yosemite National Park.

Extreme Hiking: America’s Best Hard Dayhikes

By Michael Lanza

Imagine this: You’re heading out on a long, beautiful hike deep in the backcountry, but instead of a full backpack, you carry a light daypack. You’ve avoided hassles with getting a backcountry permit and there’s no camp to set up and pack up. I love backpacking—and I do it a lot. But sometimes, I prefer to knock off a weekend-length—or longer—hike in one big day.

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A hiker at Zeacliff, overlooking the Pemigewasset Wilderness, White Mountains, N.H.

The Best Hikes in the White Mountains

By Michael Lanza

If you’re a hiker in the Northeast and especially in New England, you know about the White Mountains and either love them already or are eager to explore the tallest peaks north of the southern Appalachians and the most rugged mountains in the East. If you’re a hiker who lives outside the region, don’t be deceived or dissuaded by the fact that the highest in the Whites, Mount Washington, rises to a mere 6,288 feet. You risk missing out on hiking dozens of rocky summits with breathtaking panoramas, alpine ridges that stretch for miles above treeline, and some of the most challenging—and rewarding—trails found anywhere in the country.

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A climber on the Ptarmigan Traverse in Washington's North Cascades.

Training For a Big Hike or Mountain Climb

By Michael Lanza

When three friends and I decided to attempt to thru-hike the John Muir Trail—221 miles through California’s High Sierra, with numerous mountain passes ranging from 11,000 to over 13,000 feet in elevation—in just one week (backpackers traditionally take two to three weeks), the plan seemed like a wild dream. Hike 31 miles a day for seven straight days through some of the biggest mountains in the Lower 48? It was an agenda for lunatics. So we started training. Seriously training.

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Larch trees glowing with fall color, reflected in Rainbow Lake in the North Cascades National Park Complex.

12 Awesome Fall Backpacking Trips

By Michael Lanza

The imminent end of summer always feels a little melancholy. After all, it marks the close of the prime season for getting into the mountains. But it also signals the beginning of a time of year when many mountain ranges become less crowded just as they’re hitting a sweet zone in terms of temperatures, the lack of bugs, and fall foliage color. Autumn also stands out as an ideal season for many Southwest hikes, with moderate temperatures and even some stunning color.

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A hiker on Bondcliff in the White Mountains, N.H.

The Hardest Dayhike in the East: The 32-Mile Pemi Loop

By Michael Lanza

Our long day of hiking began at 6 a.m., shortly after first light, under a gray overcast that would rain intermittent light showers on us over the next several hours and, at times, envelop us in pea-soup fog. When our day ended 15 hours and 59 minutes later—we could officially call it “sub-16 hours”—two friends and I had proven to ourselves (and no one else would care) that, in our 50s, we could still tick off the 32-mile, 10,000-vertical-foot, nine-summit Pemi Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains in one long, grueling day.

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