It’s almost trail season again. For semi-compulsive folks like me that means it’s time to start nailing down plans for summits and other backcountry fun. And it’s also time to start feeling just a smidge guilty about what is surely my personal largest source of carbon emissions: driving to trailheads.
So on Saturday when I finally laced up the hiking boots again after an unusually slothful winter, I chose to slog my way up West Tiger Mountain 1 and 2, partly because those destinations can be reached by driving fewer than two dozen miles from home. (Tangent: wow, there’s a lot of snow out there.) But then today, as I was starting to feel pretty good about myself, I got an email from Andrew Engleson, the editor of Washington Trails Magazine, who one-upped me by biking from Seattle to the trailhead at Cougar Mountain, and then biking back home. Read about it here.
Andrew’s adventure reminded me of a site I’ve been meaning to blog about: Hike Metro. It’s a very cool smattering of hiking ideas, complete with instructions, about how to get to trailheads on bus fare. By necessity, of course, most of the listed hikes are relatively near cities, but there are a few far flung locales too.
It also reminded me that I’ve long wanted to ask folks about how they get to trailheads without that little lingering guilt. I carpool whenever possible, of course, and I drive a fairly fuel efficient car, even on roads that it’s probably not designed for. But to be completely honest, I’m not going to cut back my hiking, skiing, or climbing. So what should I do?
And what about folks in British Columbia and Oregon? Are there ways to hike by bus—or even by bike—in those parts of the Northwest too?
Update 4/15: Adding that, somewhat counterintuitively, busing it may not always be the most carbon-efficient way to reach the trailhead (because when the seats are full, cars are pretty darn efficient per passenger-mile). It is, however, a good choice for those who choose to live carless, which is itself highly carbon efficient.