Welcome to another installment of Staff Picks from our Sports and Outdoors team. Every other week, we select our favorite pieces out of the gear we’re testing, mainstays in our kits, as well as items on our wish lists. It’s like a sneak peek at the gear we’re testing and what we’re stoked on. Have something you think we should check out? Or just want to say hi? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camelback Mountain Echo Canyon Trail
For whatever reason, a big chunk of my midwestern family wound up in Arizona. Maybe it was the Midwest’s lack of good Mexican food? Anyway, I’ve been visiting that scorched patch of Earth for as long as I can remember, and no visit is ever complete without a hike up Camelback — a massive mound of red sandstone and granite shaped like a kneeling camel — watching over the oasis of Paradise Valley below. The ascent can be brutal (for masochists like me, that’s a good thing), and the summit vista is astoundingly beautiful. Just don’t go midday, when the gazillion-degree sun sizzles hikers like ants under a magnifying glass.
Post Hike: Echo Canyon Trail is within spitting distance of Scottsdale, AZ, a sprawling cornucopia of family-style buffet halls, outdoor shopping malls, and authentic-as-it-gets Mexcian food. My family and I have always loved YC’s Mongolian Grill. Years ago, YC’s was tiny and quiet; now it’s huge and bustling. Mongolian cuisine isn’t your jam? There’s always In-N-Out. — Michael Finn, Associate Staff Writer
Sheep Mountain, Jackson, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming is a bona fide outdoor Mecca. Most hikers who visit the area make an immediate beeline from the airport to the trails of Grand Teton National Park, (and rightly so — there’s an unlimited number of canyons and basins to explore) but the best hike in the area isn’t in the National Park. Sheep Mountain, known locally as the Sleeping Indian, lies on the other side of the valley, in the Gros Ventre Wilderness. The vantage point from the rounded, 11,239-foot peak offers some of the best views of the entire region — views of the Tetons, instead of from them.
Directions: The unmarked trailhead lies just east of downtown Jackson and is accessed via Flat Creek Road. A short ways past the more official looking East Lot, before the Flat Creek becomes a tight canyon, is a rough lot with a double track leading up into the hills. That path weaves up the valley foothills, through forests and meadows to the tree line. From there, the summit is in full view, but rock cairns and white flags will guide you through the high alpine terrain.
Post Hike: Stave off your hunger and thirst just long enough to drive past the more-obvious restaurants and bars in town and head a little farther out to The Bird. The wings and burgers are unbeatable, and the beer list is the best in town. — Tanner Bowden, Editorial Apprentice
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