Published: June/July 2008Instant Adventures

Pacific States

Check out the season's best weekend trips near you.

Text by Christopher Percy Collier
Photograph by Glenn Oakley
Mountain Biking: Ride Free and Easy

There's no need to bikepack (that is, schlep overnight gear in a BOB trailer) when exploring the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, a much celebrated singletrack haven in the golden grasslands of central Idaho. Instead, let Sawtooth Adventure Company shuttle your gear to fully provisioned camps set up at day's end ($175 for a two-day guided tour; sawtoothadventure.com). "All you'll have is your bike and your CamelBak," says owner Jared Hopkinson. On day one, head out along the 13-mile (21-kilometer) Elk Mountain Loop, which climbs 450 feet on twist-heavy trail into meadows of purple sage. Spend your second day on Nip & Tuck, a ten-mile ride (350-foot elevation gain) amid abandoned homesteads and Forest Service roads. "You've got a 90 percent chance of seeing elk," says Hopkinson, "and, given a recent population spike, a 25 percent chance of seeing a wolf."

Road Biking: Get the Skinny

It's easy to find an outfitter to rent you a mountain bike. But a road bike? "Those are hard to come by," says REI road bike instructor Darren Shutt, "which makes it difficult to try out the sport without buying a super-expensive bike." The way in: REI's Introduction to Road Cycling class, which takes you on the cyclist-friendly American River Parkway outside Sacramento ($75; rei.com). On the daylong course, which skirts part of Lake Natoma, you'll learn to shave off seconds without sailing over your handlebars. After the ride, feast on Thai cucumber salad and stuffed rainbow trout at nearby Cliff House of Folsom (cliffhouseoffolsom.com) and bed down at the cedar-sided Lake Natoma Inn with water views ($129; lakenatomainn.com). On day two, set up a private lesson with REI along the popular river section of the trail ($75) and test your skills in the peloton.

Climbing + Yoga: Center Yourself

"I'm hesitant to even call this rock climbing," says Heather Sullivan of the rock climbing/yoga retreat slated for July 17 to 20 in Yosemite National Park ($1,215; balancedrockfoundation.org). "It's more about learning to breathe as you move across rock." Never mind that Sullivan's teamed up with local legend Ron Kauk, a seasoned climber with a number of big wall firsts under his belt (he was also a stunt double for Sylvester Stallone and climbing instructor to Tom Cruise). Basing operations out of Tuolumne Meadows Campground (8,800 feet), participants split time between yoga sessions, hiking, and "playing on rocks" at nearby glacial lakes. "We'll also be making some time to just be," Sullivan says. For once you can return home recharged after a weekend of—rock climbing.

Rafting: Row, Row, Row Your Raft

If the normal rafting experience is a lesson in teamwork, expedition-style boating is a masters class in solo exploration. Set off down the Wallowa and Rhonde Rivers, a 36-mile trip in Class II waters, in a 12-foot, two-person raft with a pair of oars and an instructor from Winding Waters River Expeditions ($640 for three days; windingwatersrafting.com). "The big advantage is that one person can control the entire boat," says owner Paul Arentsan. By the time you're done with the Wallowa stretch, which courses through a deep basalt canyon, you'll know the basics: how to read water, how to use power strokes. Then, rather than fixating on oar placement, you can set your gaze on bighorn sheep and surfacing trout.

Hiking: Hunt Furious Falls

In June Snoqualmie Falls, a 270-foot-high cataract 30 miles east of Seattle, thunders like Thor without his morning latte. Grab a cup of joe yourself and watch the show from Salish Lodge, perched above the cataract ($349; salishlodge.com). Awake? Good. Now set off on the six-mile hike to Snow Lake, which skirts hulking granite slabs beneath 6,000-foot peaks, or aim for lesser known Rachel Lake, an eight-mile) round-trip that will take up most of your day. "You can see some 50 feet down into the lake, passing five waterfalls on the way," says Cole Barrett, a guide at the lodge ($75, including lunch, for a daylong guided hike).

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