Sredfield wrote:I like the scenery but not the crowds, which I've heard are extreme. Is that true? We saw no one on the hike two weeks ago.
We kinda think the crowding factor is dependent on where and when you hike.
It's not like all the trails are crowded all of the time. Most of the so-called "hikers" are usually just tourists out for a stroll. Natually, the marquee hikes like Bell Rock, Cathedral, Boynton, etc. are going to have their share of crowds. However, most tourists stay in motels and go out to eat breakfast. Therefore, you usually won't encounter many of them early in the morning or when it's getting toward dinner. Then they return to the motels and wash up for their trip to the local restaurant. Weekends and holidays are obviously more crowded than weekdays. Generally, if you venture more than a mile from the TH, the so-called "crowding" becomes far less noticable.
"Bad" weather virtually eliminates any crowding whatsoever. It also happens to produce the most spectacular scenery, even during our rare rain and snow storms. We've gotten so that we don't give the "crowding" factor a second thought. For example, the trail closest to our home is the famous (or infamous, depending on how you look at it) Bell Rock Pathway. Sometimes, there will barely be an open parking spot in the lot. But, magically, when we head out toward the Courthouse Butte Loop, we rarely see more than a half dozen people. They are all clustering right around Bell Rock, perhaps waiting to be sucked up into a vortex or something. The Pathway itself might have lots of people on it but since the Pathway is more like a road, it doesn't seem noticeable or annoying. Besides, it makes for great people watching. Our advice to anyone is not to let yourself get psyched out by possible crowding. The place is too good to pass by because of perceived crowding.