Jeremy (left) and Nathan Barnes are the founders of Hiking With My Brother, an online resource for wilderness wanderers. (Kolbe Kegel)

Jeremy (left) and Nathan Barnes are the founders of Hiking With My Brother, an online resource for wilderness wanderers. (Kolbe Kegel)

The hiking brothers help thousands explore the backcountry

Nathan and Jeremy Barnes’ guidebooks and blog are mandatory reading for many wilderness wanderers.

As kids, Nathan and Jeremy Barnes enjoyed adventures on their family’s 3-acre property.

Their playground is much, much bigger these days.

They’re the founders of Hiking With My Brother, a website featuring reports on some 300 trails they’ve hiked around Washington over the past 10 years, from Cape Flattery to Hanford.

Every month, about 5,000 hikers rely on their reports on trails’ location, difficulty and history.

“The biggest hurdle was always and continues to be finding time,” said Nathan Barnes, the older sibling. “We balance this with full-time jobs and families, so it’s all about dedicating the time.” Nathan is a commercial real estate attorney, and Jeremy is an engineer who leads a process improvement team at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

In the past five years, they explored the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area in the Cascade Range, which has more than 600 miles of trails. They’ll talk about their adventures and their latest book at an open house for The Mountaineers’ Everett branch June 5 at the Snohomish County PUD headquarters.

In Alpine Lakes, “there are craggy peaks that lord over vast expanses of forest dotted with shimmering lakes,” Nathan said. “Some of those lakes are perched so high up on mountainsides that they are carved straight from the rock. Some lakes have stunning color, others are so remote that it feels like you’re the first person to sit on those shores.”

Nathan, 41, and Jeremy, 38, grew up in what they say was a “somewhat” outdoorsy household. Their Seattle area home was surrounded by fields, woods and creeks for them to explore. Family trips to the Cascades gave them their first tastes of the big outdoors beyond their back yard.

They carried their childhood experiences with them into adulthood, climbing the highest peak of Mount Rainier, Columbia Crest, in 2008. The brothers decided to go on more hikes to stay in shape, spend time together and train for their next summit. They tracked their progress on a blog.

After hiking all of the trails in Harvey Manning and Ira Spring’s book, “55 Hikes Around Snoqualmie Pass,” they moved on to the rest of the state. Nathan wrote the reports; Jeremy took the pictures.

The brothers often go out of their way to highlight overlooked or under-loved hikes, while also researching the history behind the trails. (Their favorite hikes in Snohomish County are Gothic Basin and Vesper Peak, both of which have ties to old mines.)

They were among the first trail bloggers to adopt Google Maps for pinpointing trail locations.

“It’s pretty standard now, but at the time that might have been something that set us apart,” Nathan said. “Really, what made Hiking With My Brother useful was the consistent voice and depth of our trip reports. We added a lot of detail and tried to frame the information in a helpful way.”

Their efforts led to a partnership with the Washington Trails Association. They also have written hiking articles for The Seattle Times and Backpacker Magazine and guidebooks, including their latest book, “Alpine Lakes Wilderness: The Complete Hiking Guide,” published by Mountaineers Books.

“Our hope is that we have gotten people to try new hikes,” Jeremy Barnes said. “There are so many trails that need traffic and interest from the hiking community. We’re always happy to give some recommendations.”

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

Authors Nathan and Jeremy Barnes will speak about their hiking book “Alpine Lakes Wilderness” at an open house for The Mountaineers’ Everett branch June 5 at the Snohomish County PUD headquarters, 2320 California St., Everett. The event is from 7 to 9 p.m. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Go to www.mountaineers.org/locations-lodges/everett-branch for more information.

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