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The best hiking spots for geology buffs

  • Apr 25, 2016

When hitting the trail, there is plenty of natural beauty to enjoy. Plants and animals create a fantastic backdrop for your hiking or camping trip, but perhaps overlooked is the importance that an area's geology plays in creating the scenery. The rocks and boulders beneath your feet can often dictate the make-up of a specific ecosystem. Geologic activity has the power to create impressive mountain ranges, which in turn informs what lakes or rivers exist in an area. 

In some spots on the map, rock formations are the star of the show, offering unbelievable natural charm and mystical aesthetics. Before grabbing your Pro Trek triple sensor watch and hitting the trail, check out these great locations that boast fantastic geologic wonders.

Curiosity Trail, Washington
Volcanic activity has shaped the landscape in the Pacific Northwest, and the Washington Trails Association stated that the state's diverse ecosystems and natural characters make it a great place to observe the power of geology. The Curiosity Trail in particular has a number of interesting features. 

In some places, ancient glaciers have deposited rocks and boulders in curious places like open fields or meadows that otherwise do not seem like obvious locations to check out geologic processes. Elsewhere on the Curiosity Trail, petrified wood from past volcanic eruptions bespeaks the influence of natural phenomena deep below the earth can have on the surface. There are also lava caves and massive flood plains that are also descendants of older events.

Monument Valley, Utah
The site Backpacker reported that the red rocks and intoxicating desert environment of the American Southwest are best on display at Monument Valley in Utah. The site of countless cowboy movies, the famous Mitten Buttes - two towering 6,000 foot spires - are emblematic of the region.

Shale and sandstone boulders and other formations are continually hampered by wind and blowing sand. As a result, entire mountains have been carved into slivers of rock that now dot the landscape. In the light of fading sun, the natural red and orange colors of these features are especially beautiful. While hiking through this region of the U.S. is great for a whole litany of reasons, the rocks themselves are without a doubt the main attraction.

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Perhaps the most famous geologic site in the entire U.S., Arizona's Grand Canyon is a cherished landmark. As the Colorado River flows south to the Gulf of California, it has the power to fight any obstruction. Over the course of millions of years, the river has eroded the rock of the Arizona desert, gouging the deepest canyon on the planet.

At a depth of over a mile, the river continues to flow through the Grand Canyon. This is a perfect opportunity to learn about geology, as the process has exposed millions of years of geologic history. Over the course of time, different epochs in earth's history can be identified by the stratified rock that create the canyon. In some places, rock types representing new eras may be difficult to spot. In other places, however, layers of ash from a volcanic explosion or asteroid impact create a strong distinction between geologic time periods.

The Chazy Reef on Isle La Motte, Vermont 
The continents and rock beneath the surface of the earth are always shifting, and the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust explained that Vermont has its own relic of an era long since passed. In the center of Lake Champlaign, a coral reef that is over 480 million years old still exists as a rocky fossil. Much of the Northeast U.S. wasn't just underwater during this time but was actually located thousands of miles away in modern day Zimbabwe. As North America drifted to its current location, the remnants of an ancient coral reef was preserved. 

The Pro Trek PAG240T-7 features Tough Solar Power, Altimeter/Barometer, Thermometer, Digital Compass, Sunrise & Sunset Data making it perfect for any hike!

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