I like the herd hikes because they are so close. And the secret to avoiding the herd is to go early. Just this weekend I was out the door at 5:30 and back home by 9:30. Only saw 1 person going up and 1 group of 3 coming down. Two hours later and this place is a steady stream of hikers up and down. I had breakfast on the summit all to myself for about 20 minutes before heading down.
Hikes like these are my weekend compromises to do hikes every week. I like to be home by noon to spend the rest of the day with family. So the close in hikes with well defined trails and quick rewards are definitely the ones I focus on.
I do like to escape to the random camping areas of the alpine and hike through alpine meadows and trailess passes but those trips for me need to be planned ahead to work with schedules so a quick hike before the herd arrives is often what I need.