Not every great outdoor area in the country is a national park or protected by other designations. Despite the Biden administration recently declaring Colorado’s new Camp Hale-Continental Divide National Monument, many of these areas need our continued attention to help preserve them for future generations—so our kids and theirs can all enjoy these wild places.
The good news: There’s help on the horizon. The House recently passed a major package of public lands protections—including the Wild Olympics in Washington; California’s Central Coast; public lands and waters in Colorado; and public land surrounding the Grand Canyon. The bad: Like these area’s trails, it’s still an uphill battle for these measures to pass through the Senate and get signed into law by the president.
“A lot of these landscape protections are in the limbo of potentially being added to an end-of-year package or passed on their own,” says the Outdoor Alliance’s Tania Lown-Hecht. “Politics-wise, there are a lot of different ways this could happen. Lawmakers want to see some protections across the finish line, so there’s been discussion of passing the Public Lands Act, which would include all the California designations, as well as the Oregon REC bill. The vehicle where this might happen isn’t clear, but there’s a reasonable likelihood we’ll see at least some of them pass.”
What’s the best thing you can do in the meantime? Beyond writing your representative to ask for increased public lands protections: Visit them for yourself. With that in mind, consider exploring the following key places in need of protection and knocking them off your bucket list.
Canyon Creek Lakes Trail, CA
The Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act includes the stunning Canyon Creek Lakes Trail. It’s an 18.6-mile out-and-backer located near Weaverville, Calif. Be prepared for a haul. This challenging route includes 2,800 feet in elevation gain, requiring nearly nine hours to complete. For that reason, many opt to get a free wilderness permit and spend the night. (Note that a permit is also required for fires and camp stoves.) Expect alpine lakes, creeks, rock slabs and the towering granite peaks of the Trinity Alps. Hint: Follow the cairns on the steep section. For an easier day-hike, branch off to Boulder Lake instead of going all the way up.