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Progress Report – 500 “Featured” Hikes

As we mentioned in our 2018 year end wrap-up post one of our long term hiking goals is to complete 500 “featured” hikes from William L. Sullivan’s “100 hikes” guidebook series. Sullivan has broken Oregon into five regions, the Coast & Coast range, Northwest Oregon, the Central Oregon Cascades, Southern Oregon, and Eastern Oregon. Each of the five books contains detailed information on 100 “featured” hikes in that area as well as 50 to over 100 listings of additional hikes. Although his focus is on Oregon there are hikes in Washington (coast and northwest), California (coast and southern), and one short hike in Idaho at Hells Canyon Dam in the eastern book.
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When we first decided to give hiking a try we picked up a single book (not by Sullivan) containing 280 hikes covering the entire State. Each hike contained just enough detail to let you know what you needed to know to get to the trail and get going. What it lacked was detailed information about the hike itself and any type of visual reference to assist with understanding the intended route. Due to the fact that the entries encompassed the entire State the number of hikes near us was somewhat limited. We used it for a couple of hikes then began looking for other options and that’s when we discovered Sullivan’s books.

Our first purchases were the coastal and central cascades books in 2010. Many of the hikes in these books were within an hour and half or less drive from Salem. We fell in love with the detailed descriptions that Sullivan provided and the hand drawn maps that went with each featured hike. Having the visual aid to refer to when reading the descriptions made things much easier for novice hikers like us to navigate the trails. In 2012 we added his books for the other three regions and soon after made it a goal to take at least one hike from each book every year.

We also had decided that we wanted to avoid doing the same trails over and over again and instead wanted to focus on visiting as many different places as possible. As time passed I began to toy with the idea of trying to finish all 100 featured hikes from the central cascades book. The hikes from that book were the closest to us and thus were nearly all within range for day-hikes. Thoughts then turned to the possibility of also completing the NW and maybe even the coast book, but with hikes as far away as the the redwoods in California that would require some extra time and planning.

After a couple of off-seasons of planning the next years hikes I started looking ahead to subsequent years. I had begun grouping the hikes that were too far way for day trips into possible long weekends or vacations. The thought of possibly doing all 500 featured hikes began to take hold and by the end of 2016 I had a preliminary outline that included them all. During our 2017-2018 off season I took the outline and completed a full 10 year schedule that incorporated all of the remaining featured hikes as well as some new ones from other sources and some of our favorites so far. With that initial schedule we would finally achieve our goal in 2027.

I have continued to rearrange the schedule and have since managed to bring the completion date up to September, 2025. Still a long ways off but closer. We are hoping to have the NW and Central Cascade books finished by the end of 2021 and the Coast by the end of 2022. With some luck the Southern book will follow in 2023 leaving the eastern book, and more specifically the numerous hikes in the Wallowa Mountains for last.

There are a couple of issues that we are dealing with. One is never knowing until the time comes if the hikes we are planning will be accessible or if weather, forest fires, or some other unforeseen obstacle will deny us a visit. Mount Ireland in the Blue Mountains near Sumpter is a great example. Snow kept us from this hike in 2017 when we spent a vacation in Sumpter (post) so we put it on the schedule again in conjunction with a backpacking trip in the Elkhorns in 2018. A lightning storm canceled that plan (post) and so now it has been add as stop on the way to Hells Canyon in 2022.

An even more complicated issue with this particular goal is that Sullivan regularly updated his books, releasing new editions every 5 or so years which inevitably contain a different 100 featured hikes. In between editions there are often reprints where there can also be changes to the featured hikes. This happens for numerous reasons such as forest fires burning over the area, landslides closing trails, access being cut off by private land owners, or he simply found what he felt was a more worthy featured hike. These changes have left us questioning exactly how to measure our goal. We know it is to do “500 featured hikes” but what 500?

The answer isn’t all that simple. For instance attempting to finish all 100 hikes from the 2011 third edition of “100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” would mean hiking Mt. Mitchell (hike 21) but a private timber company closed access to the trail several years ago and the hike is no longer a featured hike in Sullivan’s books.

Looking to the most recent version of the books is also problematic, especially in regards to the southern and eastern books where the addition of a single hike in a remote area that we had already been to would require another long trip for that lone hike.

One possible way around this is to count any hike from an area that is/was a featured hike in any of the versions of the book. We are reluctant to do this though for two reasons. First there are a small number of hikes that have been featured hikes at one time in both the central and eastern books, so those could be double counted. If not then we’d have to decide which area to place them in. The biggest reason that we hesitate to go this route though is admittedly a bit shallow. It would most likely mean not having a single book that we could point to and say we had been on each of the featured hikes in it.

In the end I think we will wind up attempting to complete any single version of each area. It may be the most current or the oldest we own, or possibly something in between. Currently we are operating based on the most recent versions that we own save for the NW. The books we are currently using are:
“100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” Fourth Edition 2016
“100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” Fourth Edition 2012
“100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Norther California” Fourth Edition 2017
“100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” Third Edition 2015

For “100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” we still only have the 2011 third edition but plan on picking up a new edition this April and are basing our progress off of the featured hikes to be contained in it.

With those books as the basis we currently stand at having done at least part of 335 of the 500 featured hikes. A caveat here is that for some of the hikes we have only completed a portion of the hike Sullivan describes either due to a trail being impassable (Lower Rogue River in 2017) or because we’ve combined more than one hike in a longer trip. In the case of the latter we are visiting most of the highlights but aren’t taking the same trail to them as described in the book.

A breakdown of the 335 hikes we’ve checked off is below.

Coast 89/100
Central 81/100
NW 72/100
Southern 42/100
Eastern 51/100

If we were to look at our earlier editions of the Central and NW books those numbers would jump to 84 & 78 respectively but as was mentioned before there are hikes in those that may no longer be possible.

Lastly applying the “featured hike in any version” criteria would put the total number at 365* with the coast and central regions at 93 apiece, NW at 81, southern at 45, and eastern at 53. *This includes a double counting of 5 featured hikes that moved between the eastern and central books so the number really should be 360.

No matter what criteria we apply we still have a couple of years to go before we finish anything so we have some time to mull it over. We’d be interested to hear from others which way they would go or if there is another idea out there we haven’t thought of yet so please comment below.

The one thing that we do know is that we can’t finish anything without visiting more trails. Our 2019 list includes 32 more featured hikes, 8 each from the NW and central books, 4 from the southern, and 12 from the eastern. We could fit a few more in, but finishing the 500 isn’t our only goal. Another goal is continuing to visit different areas in the Pacific Northwest so there are trips to places like the South Warner Wilderness in California, and North Cascades National Park in Washington sprinkled throughout the schedule. The possibilities seem just about endless.

Happy Trails!

7 replies on “Progress Report – 500 “Featured” Hikes”

2025? Wow! We should be jealous of you two over-achievers but we’re not because hiking is great no matter who does it! 😀 We understand that Sullivan is coming out with a new Southern Oregon guide this year, which will only add to your problem to trying to keep track of which 500 you’re hiking. What about just making your own list of 500 (from his books) and hike those? You could edit your 500 only when a trail’s condition changes to make it inaccessible or no longer interesting.

I have a feeling that’s what we’ll have to do with the the south and east areas because of distance. The coast is a real wild card, a lot depends on which area of the coast see the changes.

I’ll say this about the southern area though, you’ve given me quite a few other hikes I’d like to do someday so we’d have plenty to do if a new one or two got added in your area.

[…] With the arrival of May we officially started our hiking season by making an attempt to reach Greenleaf Falls. We knew it was a long shot given the little bit of information shown online, but the hike to Greenleaf Creek was a featured hike in the 2018 4th edition of William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington”. We would at least be getting one step closer to our goal of completing all 500 of his featured hikes (post). […]

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