Wilderness Notes is one of the most widely read backcountry columns in North America. Written by adventure journalist Peter Potterfield, the column appears regularly on GreatOutdoors.com.
Whether it's touring the Alaska Range, exploring the canyons of Southern Utah, hiking the tundra of Arctic Sweden or traversing the Southern Alps of New Zealand, the best in outdoor adventure travel can be found in Peter Potterfield's regular column, Wilderness Notes.
A selected sample from the archives of Wilderness Notes, the regular column by journalist Peter Potterfield
Classic Hikes of North America Photo Gallery
GreatOutdoors.com editor Peter Potterfield has spent the last decade hiking all over North America to identify and report on the most interesting hiking routes on the continent. With his new book just released by WW Norton & Co in New York, GreatOutdoors brings you the first excerpts, including this gallery of images from the lavishly illustrated volume.
The Skyline Trail is often called not just the most spectacular trail in Jasper National Park, but one of the most interesting backcountry routes in North America. Come along as GreatOutdoors Editor Peter Potterfield takes you from Maligne Lake, up and over the infamous “Notch,” and to the summit of Amber Mountain. And he reveals some of the best spots around Jasper, including the Jasper Park Lodge, Sunwapta Lodge, and the Icefields Glacier Adventure.
Come along as GreatOutdoors.com Editor Peter Potterfield takes us with him on rafting outfitter OARS' famous craft beer trip on Idaho's Salmon River. Here, an array of micro-brews from Missoula's Big Sky Brewery, and gourmet food provided by a California culinary expert, add creature comforts and good times to the Class III white water, sunshine and white sand beaches of this legendary trip.
The salmon fishing is called the best in the world here in Canada's most out there chain of islands, but there's much more. There's hiking to ancient Haida villages, standing totem poles a hundred years old, humpback whales blowing and breaching, and eagles snatching fish from the Pacific just yards from the boat. Magical Haida Gwaii is a place emphatically on the edge of things.
The backcountry journey through Saskatchewan's Boreal Forest, the billion acre ribbon of trees stretching from one end of the continent to the other, takes you to the birthplace of Canada's conservation movement.
New York's re-purposed elevated railway has become the darling of Manhattan hikers. New Yorkers, starved for a place where one can walk block after block without stopping for traffic and stop lights, flocked to the High Line when the first, short, southern section opened in 2009 as a city park.
Peter Potterfield hikes the Yosemite Grand Traverse, a week-long backcountry journey through the Ansel Adams Wilderness and Yosemite National Park. The route often follows the unique drainage of the Merced River before reaching, eventually, the dramatic high country of Tuolumne Meadows. A side trip to the summit of Half Dome via the cable route is a standard feature of the journey.
From the glaciers of the Swiss Alps to the capitol city of Bern, we climb, hike, bike and raft along the turquoise waters of the river Aare from its mountain headwaters to Switzerland's iconic city.
Hiking Texas's Big Bend National Park
A backcountry journey through the High Chisos Mountains offers a glimpse down to the Rio Grande and into Mexico. When you spend some time here in Big Bend National Park, you discover lots of surprises, including world class hiking among the peaks. I made the journey way down here—it's not an easy place to reach—to hike in the High Chisos mountains.
Come along with GreatOutdoors.com editor Peter Potterfeld as he hikes the brand new Wales Coast Path, a bold vision combining scenery and history as it traces the wild coastline of Wales for more than 800 miles, passing foggy headlands, rocky beaches, and thousand year old castles. The trail opened in May of 2012, and Peter brings you one of the first reports.
Waterton: The Quiet Jewel of Canada's Rockies
Tucked between Banff National Park to the north, and Glacier National Park to the south, sparsely visited Waterton Lakes National Park sits astride a narrow waist of the Rocky Mountains, where the high peaks don't bother with foothills, where the bear mojo is more intense than even Denali, and there's more species of wildflowers than in Jasper and Banff combined.
Dreaming of summer hikes? Then dream big, because there's no backcountry fun to rival that of summer adventures in the Bobbie Burns and Bugaboo ranges of British Columbia. Come along as editor Peter Potterfield shares his recent adventure with Canadian Mountain Holidays where helicopters whisk you up into the high country for glorious ridge walks, rock climbs, glacier excursions and world class via feratta routes.
One of America's most iconic backcountry routes, the Teton Crest Trail takes backpackers into the heart of the spectacular Grand Tetons, and comes with enough route options to make for a weekend or a week-long adventure that will prove unforgettable.
Come along as GreatOutdoors.com joins forces with Columbia and Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides for an epic seven-day trek through the Sierra to try out the latest and greatest gear for 2010. Sixty miles on the Yosemite Grand Traverse proves a great experience and the ultimate gear test.
Hiking Utah's Cedar Mesa Country
This unique plateau in southeastern Utah soars to 7,000 feet but harbors dozens of canyons slicing through the layer cake of the Colorado Plateau. With the greatest concentration of ancient Anasazi ruins on earth, Cedar Mesa's landscape and artifacts make it a great place to kick off the hiking season.
Jordan's Jewel: A Trek to Petra
Everybody who goes to Jordan goes to Petra, but few people get there via a 50 miles trek that in six days travels from Dana Biosphere Reserve to Wadi Araba and into the Sharah Mountains before arriving at the storied city of Petra through the back door. Come along as GreatOutdoors.com shows you the way.
Join GreatOutdoors.com editor Peter Potterfield as he ventures on a journey of discovery through the backcountry of Israel in search of adventure. Who would expect world class canyons to rival those of southern Utah, or a feature so grand it is called the Grand Canyon of the Middle East. Along the way, he discovers the civilized city of Tel Aviv, and the historical epicenter of Jerusalem's Old City.
Five days on the legendary Chilkoot Pass Trail, one of the premier backcountry routes in North America, inspires new respect for the physical stamina of the Klondike gold rush miners as it takes you from the Inside Passage through British Columbia and into the wilds of the Yukon.
A trek across the mountains of Idaho's Sawtooth Wilderness reveals a rugged landscape of uncommon beauty and glorious solitude, a unique place that creates a backcountry journey like no other.
Come along on a hiking expedition through the magical landscapes of New Mexico, from the sprawling complex of great houses and kivas in Chaco Canyon, to the mysteries of the Acoma people’s mesa-top pueblo and their ancient trade routes across the lava flows.
A hike through Montana's Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness to the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park is one of America's iconic wilderness journeys.
Hidden Treasures of Anasazi Country
Thousand year old ruins and inscrutable rock art add interest and mystery to hiking the scenic canyons of Southern Utah's Cedar Mesa.
Beaches of blinding white sand and turquoise water meet granite mountains and towering coastal cliffs on this two week odyssey from Bay of Fires and the Freycinet Peninsula to the remote wilderness peninsula of Tasman National Park.
Kiwi Redux, The Second Time Around
From Rakiura National Park, New Zealand's newest, to old favorites like the Greenstone Track, the varied backcountry landscapes down here make the second or third trip even more interesting than the first.
Hiking Ireland's Wild West Coast
The whole point of this hiking odyssey is to experience the range of West Coast Irish walking terrain, from spectacular national parks to quiet rural backwaters. So we head for County Roscommon and the village of Cloonfad, where the local residents have taken a classic local walking route and mapped it and marked it so visitors like us might have a look. The route, the Derrylahan Loop, follows footpaths through farmer's fields, wanders across bogs, and curves along country lanes called boreens.
Hiking the Forgotten End of the AT
The U. S. version of the famed Appalachian Trail stops at Katahdin, in Maine, but the Appalachian Mountains continue north into Quebed, and so does the trail—but here’s it’s known by its French moniker, the Sentiers International des Appalaches as it traverses 4,000 foot peaks such as Mont Albert.
Into the Heart of the Great Bear
The First Nation settlement of Klemtu is the starting point for a kayak trip into the pristine wilderness of British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest, a place with alegendary reputation among wilderness cognoscenti for remoteness, wildlife in undisturbed habitat, and pristine beauty.
"And the hiking - they call it 'tramping' down here - measures up to any world-class standard for variety of terrain and pure scenic pay-off. I've put in backcountry miles in a lot of places, but have to say New Zealand ranks among the richest, yet easiest international adventures I've done. The experience is enhanced by the friendly Kiwis and a pervasive sense of light-hearted fun that has been sorely missing in North America the past few years. Here's how to get started..."
Heli Hiking in the Cariboos of British Columbia
"Under normal circumstances, just getting to the start of this hike would have taken us two or three days of bushwhacking through overgrown lowland valleys and grinding up steep, dead-fall covered slopes of prime grizzly-bear habitat. But, thanks to the $3 million helicopter at our beck and call, we avoided all that. What's left for us to do now is the fun part. Think of it as dessert: about 3,000 vertical feet and three miles of pure alpine majesty up this moraine and onto the big summit ridge toward the top of Crazy Horse."
"Hiking in Arctic Sweden is about as close as you can get to a backpacker's paradise. The northern sections of Kungsleden are dotted with comfortable huts about a day's walk apart, a fact that makes it easy to go light and fast, or if you have the time, light and slow. But North American hikers will find another sort of appeal, for in this intriguing landscape you can pitch your tent almost anywhere. There just aren't enough people up here to create problems with impact..."
GreatOutdoors.com editor Peter Potterfield shares photos he's taken while writing about backcountry adventures.
An excerpt from Peter Potterfield's new book on the world's best hiking routes.
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