Planning a trip across the country but not feeling too enthused about the price of gas or the wear and tear it will put on your car? Fear not, a walking tour may be just what you need to save on gas dollars, keep you fit and most importantly allow you to see some of the most scenic and stunning regions of this great land. All of these tours are land-only so you will still need to find your own way to and from the start and finish locations.
Footloose Tours (tel. 800/221 0596; www.footloose.com/) offers a wide variety of walking and hiking tours with predominantly camping accommodations in the U.S. and overseas. Locally, their "New England Country Walk" is a ten-day adventure that begins in New York. Included is transportation by adventure vehicle, the services of two Footloose tour leaders, all camping fees and equipment, guided walking tour of Boston's Freedom Trail and admission to all National Forests and State Parks. Visit the Berkshires, Appalachian Trail, Green Mountains, White Mountains of New Hampshire, Mount Washington, Baxter State Park and Boston National Historic Park. The trip on July 29, 2006 is priced at $863, August 26, 2006 is $917 and September16, 2006 is $863. The September trip often books out early due to the attraction of visiting this region at the beginning of fall foliage season.
The 12-day "Pacific Coast Walk" begins in scenic San Francisco with a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. From there, travel up the California coast to Point Reyes National Seashore, Redwood National Park, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Portland, Mt Saint Helens National Monument, Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park and end in Seattle. Included is transportation by adventure vehicle, the services of two Footloose tour leaders, all camping fees and equipment, a jet boat ride with dinner, Puget Sound ferry crossing, and admission to all National Parks, Monuments and National Recreation areas. The July 16, 2006 trip is $1,003, August 13, 2006 is $1,057 and September 10, 2006 is priced at $1,003.
The 15-day "Rockies, Canyons and Geysers" walking tour explores the heights and delights of the Rocky Mountain range, the Desert Southwest and the Canyon lands of Utah. The trip includes transportation by adventure vehicle, the services of two Footloose tour leaders, all camping fees and equipment, one night hotel accommodation, dinner at Vernal and admission to all National Parks and Monuments. Visit Rocky Mountain National Park, Winter Park, Leadville, Aspen, Moab, Arches National Park, Dinosaur National Monument, Jackson Hole, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone National Park and Salt Lake City. For the 2006 season, departure dates are July 3 for $1,265, August 7 for $1,399 and September 11 for $1,329.
The World Outdoors (tel. 800/488-8483; www.theworldoutdoors.com) offers hiking tours but as several are listed as easy or moderate, I am including them as walking tours. Their "Hawaii Three Island Hiker" looks particularly appealing taking in Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Highlights include hiking the lunar landscape of Haleakala Crater and the verdant, viewing the soaring cliffs of the Na Pali Coas, trekking near colorful Waimea Canyon and stark Volcanoes National Park, snorkeling among the coral of Kealakekua Bay, the waterfalls along the Kalalau Trail, relaxing on white-sand beaches and swimming in remote rock pools. This eight-day trip starts in Kahului, Maui and ends in Lihue, Kauai with four full and two half-days of hiking, two half-days of snorkeling, two half-days of beach time and scenic flights. It also includes accommodations at Hawaiian Inns like Hana Kai Maui Resort perched on a black sand beach, Kilauea Lodge, a former schoolhouse and the beachside 1920's-era Waimea Plantation Cottages, all meals, a T-shirt, water bottle, support vehicle, inter-island airfares on the trip (Maui to Hawaii to Kauai) and professional guides. This tour departs on July 30, November 19 and December 24, 2006 and is priced at $2,895 per person with a $625 single supplement.
The "New Mexico Hiker" is a six-day adventure that begins in the desert and alpine wilderness outside Santa Fe and travels to the Pecos Wilderness, Anasazi settlement, Ghost Ranch, magnificent canyons, traditional pueblos, and lush alpine meadows, Bandelier National Monument Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, Frijoles Canyon and ends in Taos with the Rio Grande's pristine inner gorge. This trip departs on October 8, 2006 and is considered moderately easy. It costs $1,995 per person with a $550 single supplement for five nights' accommodations in traditional bed and breakfasts and inns, all meals, a T-shirt, support vehicle, national forest and park fees, and professional guides.
Cross Country International (tel. 800/828-8768; www.walkingvacations.com) has a "New York's Historic Hudson Valley" walking tour that departs on July 9, August 13, August 27, September, October 15, October 22, and October 29, 2006. It is priced at $825 per person with a $250 single supplement and this price includes five nights' Bed and Breakfast accommodations, four days of guided walking, breakfast and lunch each day, daily transfers and taxes. The tour begins in Milbrook and features four of the following walks (depending on departure date):
- The Hyde Park Trail links the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site and Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site along and above the Hudson River. View a vast collection of European antique furnishings and enjoy the restored formal Italian garden and the views across the Hudson River.
- Climbing Stissing Mountain in northern Dutchess County, near the village of Pine Plains. At the summit enjoy a 360-degree view of the Catskills across the Hudson Valley in the west to the imposing Taconic Range and distant peaks of Massachusetts and Connecticut in the east.
- The Dutchess County Gardens of Wethersfield, a ten-acre classical garden on the vast former hunt country estate of Chauncey Devereux Stillman, inspired by 17th Century Italian Renaissance gardens (plus enjoy a guided tour of the mansion with artwork by Degas, Mary Cassatt, and Toulouse Lautrec) and Innisfree, formerly the private garden of Walter and Marion Beck, consisting of a series of Chinese "cup gardens" encircling a 45-acre serene glacial lake.
- Ascend Brace Mountain in the Taconic Range and enjoy views to the northeast of Mount Frissell in Massachusetts and Bear Mountain, the highest mountain in Connecticut. A short hike to scenic Bash Bish Falls and charming café or bakery in Millertown is optional.
- Visit three Dutchess County wineries along the "Dutchess County Wine Trail". Cascade Mountain Winery nestled on the top of the Berkshire foothills, Rose Clinton Vineyards - a beautifully landscaped estate winery with historic barns, a pond, and gardens and Millbrook Vineyards situated on a hillside on a 130-acre estate made for strolling, with beautiful ponds and scenic views. Fully guided tours will explain the entire winemaking process.
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