Friday, May 6, 2016

My Top 4 Off Trail Excursions

Trails are fantastic- it's nice to have a clear cut path that winds along scenic overlooks and around many inconvenient obstacles. Let's face it, though: some of the most amazing memories come from the times when you deviate from the path, whether intentionally or not. Here are my favorite four off-trail moments:

4.) The Seattle Public Library.
Fourth place on my list was an epic adventure through an urban jungle. My friend Stephanie and I couldn't find the lot we left our car in, and thus went "off trail" all over downtown Seattle. We wandered up hills that could rival many hiking trails, under and atop overpasses, and past many exciting artistic structures. While it was a tad frustrating and extremely tiring in the moment, this accident lead us to what turned out to be one of my favorite parts of the trip: getting to explore the biggest library I've ever had the pleasure of walking into.

3.) From the River to the Plateau.
My boyfriend wanted us to go on a hike for his birthday. We began at the Nisqually John Canyon trail head along the Snake River, but quickly learned that the trail vanishes after less than a mile. We stared at the plethora of hills before us and decided on the fly that we should climb all the way to the top- who cares if there isn't a trail? It turned out to be a much tougher trip up and back than it looked like, but seeing that view and all of those wildflowers was so worth it! We stopped to rest our ankles for a moment on the way down and I commented, "It seems like something out of a cute romance flick; sitting in a field of flowers with your dream guy." to which he replied, "Well, that definitely sounds nicer than 'me and my girlfriend went on a 5 mile death march up a mountain'."

If you want to check this area out for yourself, Backpacker gives some nice tips, stats and directions.

2.) The Abandoned House.
A few friends and I were taking a nice walk along the Trail of the Coeur d' Alenes in Idaho and saw the top of an old house sticking up from the foliage on the other side of a small swamp. We couldn't resist- a closer look was necessary. Not wanting to trek through a swamp, we scaled a hill covered in rocks and small cacti, walked along a rural road, and battled our way through a gully full of wild roses. Not the most pleasant of conditions, but exploring my first abandoned house was an extremely exciting and surreal experience. I would gladly do it all over again!

1.) The Creek.
We were following a trail near Heyburn State Park. The trail was named for a creek that we could not see... So what do we do? Find the creek, of course! We whacked our way through a lot of bushes and tall grass in order to access the dry creek bed. After following it for a ways, it began showing more signs of water. Eventually we even found our own little oasis: a secluded pool surrounded in trees, dragonflies, and summertime wildflowers. Going farther yet, we hiked with our shoes off and relied on trekking poles and large sticks to keep our balance on the slippery rocks. Along the way, we discovered a stone throne and one of the biggest fallen-tree bridges I've seen in person. The entire outing was truly breathtaking! Also, the first time I ever spent half of a hike barefoot. 

What are your best off-trail memories? Share them in the comments below or send me an email at and I might feature your story in a later post!

Sarah Iddings is always ready to explore new territory; 
just don't blame her if you get hurt hiking off trail. 
You do that at your own risk, just like she does.
She also enjoys writing and social media-
Follow her on Twitter & Instagram @Adventureofsair,
and check out her photography blog, Captured Yet Fleeting.
She can be contacted at
Happy trails!

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