If there’s something that we’ve recently lost in society, it’s a little spontaneity. In the age of Google, Instagram, and Facebook, we rarely just go for a drive for a simple exploration. Everything is planned, researched, and dang near rehearsed. Yes, the thrill of going to hike somewhere beautiful is still there. But, wouldn’t it be a little bit better if your adventure started the moment you turned the key in your car? Wouldn’t it be more fulfilling if you explored somewhere that your friends haven’t already posted about online? What we are talking about is relearning the art of the spontaneous hike.
The spontaneous hike offers many advantages over your standard planed out hike, the most obvious being you get to avoid the conversation “where do you want to go?” “Don’t know, where do you want to go?” “I asked first, you pick!” This dreaded conversation of indecisiveness can all be avoided if you embrace a little spontaneity.
The first rule of a spontaneous hike is to remember that you are still hiking. You should have more than enough water with you and have dressed for the occasion! The second thing you will want to do is go to an area that has a lot of hikes available. Outside of Portland there are two main places: Mt. Hood and the Gorge. So find the place near you that has a lot of hikes. Third, take roads that you do not normally use when you are in that area. For example, the Gorge has three main roads that go through it: Highway 84 on the Oregon side, Highway 14 on the Washington side, and in many places there are remnants of old Highway 30. The latter in particular is a goldmine for hikes, but there are so many famous ones that plenty of high-quality trails go unnoticed! This makes it a perfect road to explore.
So once you found your highway 30 grab your best friend (or some good music), get in the car and head down the road till you find a parking lot or pull off spot that looks promising!
After finding a hike that looks decent, go for it!!! Sometimes hikes that look short and lame actually end at the top of a mountain with an amazing view! Furthermore, many of the hikes that are .3 miles or 1.4 miles actually have hikes at the end of the trail just with different names. I can’t count the number of times we have done a short out and back hike that actually connects to an amazing backpacking trail that has never shown up on any of our Google searches!
One thing you will quickly notice when you have mastered the art of the spontaneous hike is how many different hikes you go on that you would have never tried! Believe it or not, the internet does not contain every beautiful hike near you (Your friends’ Instagram doesn’t either!). Even if it does, the “Top 10 Greatest Hikes Near You” articles should probably be re-named the “Top Ten Busiest Hikes Near You!”. Now we here at Pac Back love conversing with the outdoor community as much as you, but we all know it is nice to get away and find our only little corner of nature! So if you’re tired of standing in line to get to Dog Mountain or some other famous hike near you, try mastering the art of the spontaneous hike and let us know how it goes in the comments!