Standing Indian Mountain, NC

Empty Peaks


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Legend has it that a Cherokee warrior was turned to stone while standing watch on this 5,499-foot peak in the Blue Ridge. Your most likely fate will be a hike through mountain laurel in the still-wild Nantahala National Forest, followed by a splash in a swimming hole. Take the 11.3-mile Kimsey Creek/Lower Ridge Loop, which traverses bear and wild boar stomping grounds, and snares panoramas of Georgia’s Tallulah River and Chattahoo­chee National Forest. Pitch a tent at Hurricane Creek campground ($6;, at the confluence of the Nantahala River and Hurricane Creek, a perfect spot to cast a fly for brook trout.

Gannett Peak, WY

The Wind River Range is not for nebbishes, and this glacier-framed, 40-mile round-trip hike up 13,804-foot Gannett, the state’s tallest peak, is literally a high point. On five-day trips with Jackson Hole Mountain Guides ($1,495;, you’ll leave Elkhart Park, 60 miles east of Jackson, as mules shoulder the load to the first campsite, then march through limber pines and granite monoliths and around glaciated lakes, camping at Island Lake and the snow-cradled Titcomb Basin. On summit day, get an early start to enjoy the top alone.

Mount Bond, NH

Lost in the White Mountains and invisible to all but a few lucky souls is 4,698-foot Mount Bond. The taxing 19-mile round-trip trek to the top starts at the end of Zealand Road and wiggles through forest, along ridgelines, and past brooks and lakes. Follow the Zealand, Twinway, and Bondcliff trails, stopping to slide into the pools under Zealand Falls, then bunk at the Zealand Falls Hut ($89, including dinner and breakfast; The next morning, it’s summit time.

Wheeler Peak, NV

At 13,063 feet, Wheeler—near the Utah line, about five hours from Salt Lake City—is a smorgasbord of activity, little of it human. The Summit Trail is an 8.2-mile round-trip that rises 2,900 feet above a glacier with panoramas of Great Basin National Park. Get personal with screeching yellow-bellied marmots and ringtail cats, and be ready for the scree and likely snow in the final two miles. Check out the Lehman Caves, gather pine nuts, fish for cutthroat trout, and hike into the antediluvian bristlecone pines, then pitch your tent at Wheeler Peak Campground ($12;, a cone’s throw from the trailhead.