To experience active geology while hiking in the continental U.S., head to Washington State’s second highest peak, Mount Adams, located in the Cascade Volcanic Arc. According to Jennifer Pharr Davis, it’s less traveled than Mount Rainier but rife with mountain scenery and ecological diversity. “Plus you get incredible views of Mount Rainier, as well as [Mount] Hood and Mount St. Helens," she says.
Pharr Davis recommends the 35-mile circumnavigation of the mountain on a route that connects several trails—the Highline, the Round the Mountain, and others—and includes some off-trail hiking. “A portion of the trail is on the Pacific Crest Trail, and several miles are on a Native American reservation, which is really cool,” she says.
Known as one of the greatest highland hikes in the Cascades, the circuit is moderate and less demanding than some of the other strenuous hikes in the region. Unusual lava formations, waterfalls, wildflowers, and huckleberries line the trail, with the dramatic, glacier-covered peak of Mount Adams looming overhead and views of three other volcanoes across the forested valley.
Jennifer Pharr Davis
Jennifer Pharr Davis has hiked more than 12,000 miles of long-distance trails on six continents. She holds speed records for Vermont’s Long Trail (women's, unsupported) and in 2011 thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail faster than any man or woman before her for a new overall speed record. In 2012 she backpacked more than 600 miles during her second trimester of pregnancy. See her Adventurers of the Year profile.
Jennifer Pharr Davis': Sunglasses
“I couldn’t have survived Iceland without sunglasses," says the speed hiker. "I needed them not just for the glare off the glaciers, but [also] because the wind would send all this loose volcanic ash flying through the air.” She prefers the Pivothead Aurora sunglasses. "They take pics, video, and protect my eyes."