A Directory of Natural Beauty
America’s 60 Best Day Hikes
While states like Alaska, California, Colorado and Montana might get all of the attention for great hiking (not without merit), there are great hikes tucked away in every pocket of the US. Virtually every state in the US has a great hike that can be tackled in a day, and many are even within striking distance of major cities. This summer instead of cowering indoors, sheltered from the heat, get out and embrace it. Hunt down a great view. Take a walk along a serene body of water. Bag the tallest summit in your state. The US is filled with amazing hikes. Use this list as a starting point, but be sure to explore beyond it and seek out the wandering side trail. – AJ Powell
The Draw: Crystalline lakes and one-of-a-kind Southern scenery. Starting from Blue Pond (a swimming hole worth returning to), the northern and southern loops take you past sapphire-blue ponds and a whole slew of Southern flora.
Don’t Miss: The bug spray. You’re passing through bogs and swamps, so you do the math. Visit in winter to dampen the swarm and take advantage of cooler temperatures.
How Long: 13.5-mile north loop and 5-mile south loop (connected by 4-mile link trail)
Found In: Andalusia, AL
Which Is: 2 hours northeast of Mobile; 2 hours south of Montgomery
Savage River Canyon Trail
Season: Summer. Depending on snowfall and weather, the trail can be open during the spring or fall. Check visitor center beforehand.
The Draw: A short, scenic hike alongside the Savage River’s whitewater. Since there are few tall trees, it’s easy to explore off the trail. The area’s a popular spot to picnic and sightsee because of its abundant wildlife. Don’t get too close to the grizzly bears.
Don’t Miss: On clear days, stare down Mount McKinley.
How Long: 2-mile loop
Found In: Denali National Park
Which Is: In central Alaska, a good 4.5-hour drive north of Anchorage
Bright Angel Trail
Season: Year-round, but check with Park Rangers for current conditions.
The Draw: Wonderful views of the Grand Canyon and its carver, the Colorado River. But be careful: the trail is hot and steep, and being unprepared here can be deadly.
Don’t Miss: Cinematic views of one of the world’s greatest natural wonders.
How Long: 12 miles roundtrip
Found In: The Grand Canyon National Park, along the Canyon’s South Rim
Which Is: Just west of Bright Angel Lodge
Eagle Rock Loop
The Draw: More river crossings than your Chacos can handle. The path, however long you take it, continually crosses over creeks and rivers, then peaks at various vista points along the way.
Don’t Miss: Locking down bragging rights for the total loop. It’ll be tough to do in a day; take a weekend to complete this razorback rite of passage.
How Long: Up to 26.8 miles
Found In: Ouachita National Forest, AR
Which Is: 2 hours and 30 minutes southwest of Little Rock
East Fork Cold Spring and Montecito Peak
Season: It’s nice year-round. This is Cali.
The Draw: An arduous but scenic hike through a canyon, alongside a creek with infinite opportunities to explore small waterfalls and pools.
Don’t Miss: Southern California’s got more than just beach views. From Montecito Peak, there are fantastic views of Camino Cielo and Santa Barbara.
How Long: Just north of 9 miles roundtrip
Found In: Montecito, CA
Which Is: A 10-minute drive from Santa Barbara
The Draw: A view-filled hike that boasts a vast canyon, coastal waterfalls, a growing redwood forest and fantastic ocean views.
Don’t Miss: There isn’t one focal point to hone in on — it’s got everything. But if you want something extra unique, look for roosting California Condors.
How Long: 4.5 miles
Found In: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Which Is: Just east of Highway 1. The entrance is about 37 miles south of Carmel or 48 miles north of Ragged Point.
Blue Lake Hike
Season: June to October
The Draw: This is great hiking above the tree line. Blue Lake sits in a bowl-shaped depression called a glacial cirque. The water is deep blue and is framed by the rocky feet of Mount Audubon, Mount Toll and Paiute Peak.
Don’t Miss: At the end of the trail, there’s a fairly inconspicuous path to the north shore of Upper Bl2e Lake. Routes to Little Pawnee Peak, Mount Toll and Paiute Peak branch off from Blue Lake as well.
How Long: 5.1 miles roundtrip
Found In: Indian Peaks Wilderness Area
Which Is: An hour west of Boulder, CO
Lion’s Head to Bear Mountain
The Draw: Bear Mountain is the highest peak in Connecticut, and hiking to it from Lion’s Head — along the Appalachian Trail — is the best way to get to the summit.
Don’t Miss: The 22-foot stone pyramid at the summit and views of the Catskills in New York and Mt. Everett in Massachusetts.
How Long: 13 miles
Found In: Salisbury, Connecticut
Which Is: 90 minutes north of Bridgeport; 75 minutes southeast of Albany
Florida Trail, Hopkins Prairie to Juniper Springs
The Draw: The Juniper Prairie Wilderness, named “the jewel of the Florida trail” for its diverse flora and fauna.
Don’t Miss: Hidden Pond, a quiet watering hole fed by a crystal-clear spring. Do miss (but see from a distance) the sinkholes that line the path, interspersed between the surprisingly flush sand pine forest.
How Long: 10.5 miles
Found In: Silver Springs, FL
Which Is: 1 hour and 30 minutes northwest of Orlando; 1 hour and 45 minutes south of Jacksonville
Blood Mountain Loop
The Draw: The route offers a mix of rhododendron-covered pathways and panoramic rock outcroppings — but the peak, sitting on jagged rocks overlooking the valley, is what you’re really here for.
Don’t Miss: Your DSLR, especially in autumn when the deciduous trees take on a panoply of colors, coating the trail with fallen leaves and making the somewhat easy trek entirely photo worthy.
How Long: 6 miles
Found In: Chattahoochee National Forest, GA
Which Is: 1 hour and 40 minutes north of Atlanta
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The Draw: A 1,000-foot gorge that slices its way through lush forest growth. There are also naturally occurring water slides scattered along the way, so bring a bathing suit.
Don’t Miss: A hiking permit. The trip to the floor of the falls is restricted to 100 per day, so go on a slow weekday or go early.
How Long: 2 miles
Found In: Tallulah Falls, GA
Which Is: 2 hours northeast of Atlanta; 2 hours southwest of Asheville, North Carolina
Kuliouou Ridge Trail
The Draw: A diverse hike through forests, up ridges and with dramatic ocean views. It gets steep, but that’s part of the challenge.
Don’t Miss: Kuliouou Summit. You’ll have uninterrupted views of the valley, the Pacific Ocean and everything in between.
How Long: 5 miles round trip
Found In: The Kuli’ou’ou Valley
Which Is: On Oahu, minutes from downtown Honolulu
Borah Peak Hike
Season: Winter ascents are possible, but may require crampons, snowshoes and an ice axe. Try it during any of the other three.
The Draw: The rocky terrain, combined with tough, icy conditions makes for an arduous climb. It’s not quite Vertical Limit, but it’ll test you.
Don’t Miss: A chance to stand on top of Idaho. At 12,662 feet, Borah Peak is the highest point of elevation in the state.
How Long: Approximately 8 miles, roundtrip
Found In: The Lost River Mountain Range
Which Is: in Challis National Forest, central Idaho
Garden of the Gods
The Draw: Hundreds of millions of years have turned the sandstone in Southern Illinois into spectacular rock formations that sit high above Shawnee National Forest to the west and the Ohio River to the east.
Don’t Miss: Sunset.
How Long: approx. 0.5 miles
Found In: Shawnee National Forest, Simpson, IL
Which Is: 2 hours and 30 minutes southeast of St. Louis, MO; 3 hours northwest of Nashville, TN
West Beach Trail
The Draw: It’s a beautiful hike among forest and the beaches of the southernmost point of Lake Michigan. Elevation changes are challenging and also give you a tremendous view of the water. Plus, it’s on the beach.
Don’t Miss: Bringing a picnic for cooling down with your feet in the water.
How Long: 3.4 miles
Found In: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, IN
Which Is: 1 hour east of Chicago, IL; 2 hours 30 minutes north of Indianapolis
Adventure Hiking Trail
The Draw: This cleverly named trail is one of the longest continuous trails in the state. The loop takes hikers past four shelter houses, old pioneer houses, cliff faces and sinkholes.
Don’t Miss: Views of the Ohio River from the high bluffs along the trail.
How Long: 25 miles
Found In: Harrison-Crawford State Forest, Corydon, IN
Which Is: 1 hour west of Louisville, KY; 2 hours 30 minutes south of Indianapolis
Sylvan Runkel State Preserve
The Draw: The secluded ridgeline takes you above forests in a 12-mile loop around rolling grassy hills.
Don’t Miss: The “loess” is accumulated wind-blown silt piled up to 200 feet high. The only other places where loess reach these heights outside of the Iowa/Missouri region is along the Yellow River in China — a bit of a longer roundtrip.
How Long: 12 miles
Found In: Loess Hills State Forest, Harrison County, Iowa
Which Is: 2 hours west of Des Moines; 60 minutes north of Omaha, NE
Elk City State Park
The Draw: The park offers some of the best hiking in Kansas while the lake and its rivers offer up bass, crappie, catfish and saugeye to fishermen.
Don’t Miss: The Green Thumb Nature Trail loop runs for one mile and empties out onto stunning views of Elk City Lake.
How Long: 12 miles
Found In: Montgomery County, Kansas
Which Is: 2 hours southeast of Wichita; 90 minutes north of Tulsa, OK
Swift Camp Creek Trail
The Draw: Lots and lots of arches: Red River Gorge carves out the largest concentration of arches east of the Rockies, all packed into tree-crowded scenery. Swift Camp drops you into the heart of things, past arches, waterfalls, and plenty of green.
Don’t Miss: The impact of the logging industry. Before it was declared a national park, the whole Daniel Boone forest was chopped. Loggers used to float trees down the creek; the logging trails and second-growth forest remain a testament to that time.
How Long: 7 miles
Found In: Daniel Boone Wilderness, KY
Which Is: 1 hour and 15 minutes south of Lexington
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Summit Mt. Katahdin via Knife Edge
The Draw: Running from Pamola Peak to Baxter Peak, the actual Edge is only about a mile, but the views of the 100-Mile Maine Wilderness as you walk along its spine make it well worth the trek.
Don’t Miss: Your footing. This hike isn’t for windy days or hikers with vertigo. Exercise extreme caution along the edge and don’t roll off the cliff.
How Long: 9.5 miles
Found In: Baxter State Park, Maine
Which Is: 4 hours north of Portland
Gulf Hagas Trail
The Draw: The “Grand Canyon of the East”, Gulf Hagas Trail is accessible from one of the most remote sections of the Appalachian Trail and passes cascading waterfalls and deep gorges.
Don’t Miss: The part where we said this is remote. Bring a friend, a plan, well-draining shoes for river crossing and cash to pay the gate fee for access via Katahdin Iron Works Road.
How Long: 8 miles
Found In: Northeast Piscataquis, Maine
Which Is: 3.5 hours north of Portland
Ocean Path and Precipice Trail
The Draw: On the eastern coast of Acadia National Park (a treasure in its own right) lies Sand Beach. The Ocean Path, an easy walking trail, runs south from Sand Beach, running along cliffs that drop into the crashing waves of the north Atlantic. A mile north of the beach is Precipice Trail (closed during early summer), which is essentially a ladder fastened into the side of a cliff overlooking the park and open ocean.
Don’t Miss: Bringing a camera. These hikes are relatively painless and provide disproportionately stunning views.
How Long: 4 miles and 2.5 miles
Found In: Acadia National Park, Maine
Which Is: 3 hours northeast of Portland
Mt. Tom Traverse – Metacomet-Monadnock Trail
The Draw: Mt. Tom is the highest traprock peak in the Metacomet Range, which stretches from Connecticut through Massachusetts and looks out over the Connecticut River. Mt. Nonotuck, a few miles north of Mt. Tom, features the Eyrie House ruins — remnants of a summit hotel that burned down in 1901.
Don’t Miss: The wreckage of a U.S. Army Air Force B-17G Flying Fortress, which crashed into the north side of the mountain on July 9th, 1946.
How Long: 6.5 miles
Found In: Holyoke, Massachusetts
Which Is: 90 minutes west of Boston
Great Blue Hill in the Blue Hills Reservation
The Draw: Blue Hills Reservation is reachable by Bostonians via public transportation and offers 10 miles of trails during the summer and skiing during the winter.
Don’t Miss: Eliot Tower at the Great Blue Hill summit looks north over the skyline of downtown Boston.
How Long: 1.5-10 miles
Found In: Milton, Massachusetts
Which Is: 20 minutes south of Boston
The Draw: A beautifully maintained trail takes you on a loop past miles of Lake Superior shoreline. You’ll be hiking atop cliffs, across beaches and next to waterfalls.
Don’t Miss: The Chapel Rock landmark, a tree stranded on a rock high above the shoreline with roots running through the air to the closest cliffs.
How Long: 9 miles
Found In: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Grand Marais, MI
Which Is: 6 hours 45 minutes north of Detroit; 3 hours 30 minutes northeast of Green Bay, WI
Silver Bay to County Road 6, Superior Hiking Trail
The Draw: This is one of Andrew Skurka‘s favorite sections of the Superior Hiking Trail, which is a premiere 296-mile hiking trail in Minnesota. There are glacier-scoured lakes, overlooks of the largest freshwater lake in the world, a small mountain climb and a waterfall on the Baptism River.
Don’t Miss: The rest of the Superior Hiking Trail is perfect for day hikes. There are trailhead parking lots every 5-10 miles and 92 backcountry campsites for extended trips.
How Long: 18 miles
Found In: Superior Hiking Trail, Silver Bay, MN
Which Is: 1 hour northeast of Duluth
Lower Rock Creek to Cathedral Canyon
The Draw: Jagged cliffs, sheer drops and boulders littering the creekbed. Trout fill the canyon’s deep pools and there are plenty of cascading waterfalls and nooks and crannies to explore on the short but intense hike.
Don’t Miss: Your footing. Seriously.
How Long: 5 miles
Found In: Mark Twain National Forest, Fredericktown, Missouri
Which Is: 1 hour 45 minutes south of St. Louis; 3 hours 30 minutes north of Memphis, TN
Grinnell Glacier Overlook Trail
Season: May through October
The Draw: This trail winds through a diverse landscape of alpine meadows, passing waterfalls and leading up to a 152-acre glacier. It’s a strenuous hike, not necessarily because of its length, but because you’ll climb over a thousand feet in the process.
Don’t Miss: The glacier. The hike culminates at this constantly retreating ice fortress. You can venture out on it, but it’s dangerous, and rangers don’t recommend it. Also, look out for bighorn sheep. They’re commonly seen grazing amongst the rocks.
How Long: Just shy of 8 miles, roundtrip
Found In: Glacier National Park, Montana
Which Is: A 40-minute drive northeast of Whitefish, Montana
Whitetail Trail to Lookout Hill
The Draw: The park features 20 miles of trails, and fishing, boating and hunting. The highest point in the park, Lookout Hill, offers views of the rolling hills of Ponca’s State Park in the Missouri River valley and across into South Dakota.
Don’t Miss: 400 miles across the state is Nebraska’s highest point, Panorama Point. Yea, it’s just a hill.
How Long: 8 miles
Found In: Ponca State Park, Ponca, NE
Which Is: 2 hours north of Omaha; 90 minutes south of Sioux Falls, SD
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The Draw: A challenging, family-friendly hike — a complete 180º from the Las Vegas lights.
Don’t Miss: The Red Canyon is just that: expect lots of red rocks. There aren’t any trees, so you can see for miles. Views of Calico Basin and the Las Vegas Valley are beautiful. And bring plenty of water.
How Long: 2.5 miles
Found In: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Which Is: 45 minutes west of Las Vegas
Welch and Dickey Mountain Loop
The Draw: Hiking the White Mountains will generally humble your thighs and knock you on your ass. This hike is an exception. Short and easy to access, it runs on the southern end of the White Mountains.
Don’t Miss: After hiking through pines and blueberry shrubs and atop slabs of granite, you’ll summit to views of Franconia Ridge — another amazing hike on this list. Bring cash for parking.
How Long: 4.5 miles
Found In: Thornton, New Hampshire
Which Is: 75 minutes north of Manchester
The Presidential Traverse
The Draw: Being able to say you’ve done it. This hike is not a joke. Completion means summiting the seven mountains along the range named for presidents: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce.
Don’t Miss: The number on your bathroom scale, big guy. Be realistic; if you need to spread this hike across a long weekend, know that camping above the tree line is prohibited and finding a flat, suitable camping area can prove difficult in the Whites.
How Long: 23 miles (one way)
Found In: Northern White Mountains, New Hampshire
Which Is: 1 hour 45 minutes north of Manchester
Mt. Moosilauke via Beaver Brook
The Draw: Hike up next to the Beaver Brook Cascades and lose your shit over 360 degree views of the White Mountains, Connecticut River and Vermont at the summit of Moosilauke.
Don’t Miss: Cairns — huge man-made rock piles — litter the summit. Bring cash for parking at the Ravine Lodge Trailhead.
How Long: 8 miles
Found In: Western White Mountain National Park, New Hampshire
Which Is: 90 minutes north of Manchester
Mt. Tammany at the Water Gap
The Draw: The hike to the top of Mt. Tammany is short but smacks your eyeballs with an amazing view of the Delaware Water Gap, a mecca for geographic diversity and rock climbing.
Don’t Miss: The route past Mt. Tammany, along Kittatinny Ridge, takes you to Sunfish Pond, which is a glacial lake trapped high up among mountain foliage.
How Long: 11.5 miles
Found In: Hardwick, New Jersey
Which Is: 75 minutes west of Newark
Italianos Canyon Trail 59
Season: June to October
The Draw: One of four Hondo Canyon trails on Highway 150, it takes hikers through scenic conifer and aspen forests. There are a few other trails, so hikers who want more variety or more difficult routes can try out the Lobo Peak or Gold Hill trails.
Don’t Miss: Great views of the Red River Valley and the Hondo Valley.
How Long: 3.6 miles one way
Found In: Located near the Taos Ski Valley
Which Is: A half hour north of Taos, in the state’s north-central region
The Draw: This is the most popular hiking spot in New York, with loops of varying mileage and easy accessibility by car or train.
Don’t Miss: Buying a return ticket. There is an entire stop on the Metro North Hudson Line — called Breakneck Ridge — devoted to New Yorkers trekking on the ridge, but no ticket machine. Figures.
How Long: 4-12 miles
Found In: Hudson Valley, New York
Which Is: 1 hour 40 minutes via train north of Grand Central Station
Black Mountain Loop at Lake George
The Draw: Black Mountain is the highest peak overlooking Lake George, an elongated 32-mile stretch of water that Roosevelts, Vanderbilts, Whitneys and Rockefellers visited in the early 20th century. Today, millionaire mansions and high-dollar resorts dot the shoreline.
Don’t Miss: The chance to take a hot air balloon up over the water.
How Long: 7 miles
Found In: Lake George, New York
Which Is: 4 hours north of NYC; 75 minutes north of Albany
Mount Mitchell Trail
The Draw: Hiking the highest peak east of the Mississippi River (6,684 feet). That, and it’s tough. It punches up elevation quickly, so watch the heart rate soar. The drawback: a road ascends to the peak, so you get tourists at the top. Go on a bad-weather day to ditch the crowds, or hit the trail when the park’s closed.
Don’t Miss: Enjoying the old-growth forest as you sweat your way to the top. It’s no walk in the park (so to speak), so stop from time to time, catch your breath and remember to appreciate your surroundings.
How Long: 11.4 miles
Found In: Pisgah National Forest, NC
Which Is: 1 hour northeast of Asheville
Petrified Forest Loop
The Draw: The petrified forest is part of the Badlands, which creep across the border into Montana and South Dakota and, because of arid erosion, look like a martian landscape.
Don’t Miss: The roaming bison, elk and prairie dogs.
How Long: 10.3 miles
Found In: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Billings County, North Dakota
Which Is: 4.5 hours west of Fargo; 3.5 hours north of Rapid City, SD; 4 hours east of Billings, MT
The Draw: The trail is short but includes views of cascading waterfalls, circles a gorge and overlooks the rest of the park from some of the highest cliffs in the state.
Don’t Miss: Hocking Hills has five other major hiking areas that total over 25 miles in the park. Look for the hemlock-lined trails at Cedar Falls, massive rock formations in Old Man’s Cave and waterfalls at Ash Cave.
How Long: 2.5 miles
Found In: Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH
Which Is: 70 minutes southeast of Columbus; 2 hours northwest of Charleston, WV
Mount Scott Trail
Season: The trail is often covered in snow from October through July. Check at the ranger station to see if it’s safe.
The Draw: A summit route to the highest point (8,929 feet) of Summit Lake. This trail is also rich with alpine wildflowers.
Don’t Miss: Views of Klamath Basin and the southern High Cascades. Since the ridge’s trail is flat, with a dearth of tall trees, it makes the perfect location for a fire lookout.
How Long: 5 miles, roundtrip
Found In: Crater Lake National Park, 14 miles east of the park’s headquarters
Which Is: A two-hour drive south of Bend, OR
Pulpit Rock – Pinnacle Loop
The Draw: Of the 230 miles of Appalachian Trail running through Pennsylvania, this nine-mile stretch features the two best views — Pulpit Rock and Pinnacle Rock.
Don’t Miss: Your alarm clock. This hike is popular, so if you don’t want some random Sasquatch photobombing your summit photo, come early.
How Long: 9 miles
Found In: Albany, Pennsylvania
Which Is: 90 minutes northwest of Philadelphia
The Draw: This was the first National Recreational Trail in New England and winds past the cliffs of Sheep Point Cove and the architecture of Newport’s Historic District.
Don’t Miss: The Colonial architecture, local museums or White Horse Tavern — the oldest tavern still serving drinks in the entire U.S.
How Long: 3.5 miles
Found In: Newport, Rhode Island
Which Is: 45 minutes south of Providence
The Draw: The trail runs right down the Chattooga River (it’s point to point, so consider transportation back) and reps an impressive waterfall-to-mile ratio (there are five on the trail).
Don’t Miss: Your rod and reel. Anglers rejoice in a river flush with trout, and trekkers who extend the trip to a multi-day hike can enjoy the fine delicacy of fresh-caught meals.
How Long: 18.3 miles
Found In: Mountain Rest, SC
Which Is: 1 hour and 30 minutes west of Greenville
French Creek Trail
The Draw: There is no marked trail through the French Creek Natural Area; instead, hikers follow the creek between high, sheer canyon walls past forests of pine and hardwood. Bringing shoes that can get wet, as you’ll be crossing the creek constantly.
Don’t Miss: There is a swimming opportunity at The Narrows around mile five along with tons of wildlife including bighorn sheep, elk, and pronghorn antelope.
How Long: 12 miles
Found In: Custer State Park, East Custer, SD
Which Is: 30 minutes south of Rapid City
Sylvan Lake Trailheads to Harney Peak, Trail 9
The Draw: Harney Peak is the highest natural peak in South Dakota and offers stunning views of The Needles and Little Devils Tower, while the trail to the top starts at the stunning Sylvan Lake.
Don’t Miss: Mount Rushmore is right around the corner.
How Long: 7 miles
Found In: Black Hills National Forest, Custer, SD
Which Is: 60 minutes south of Rapid City
Fiery Gizzard Trail
The Draw: Views from the ridgetop and waterfalls along the way. A point-to-point trail that’s do-able in a day, the it’s moderate hiking with grade-A views.
Don’t Miss: Your trail car. Get dropped off at the Trailhead, then get picked up at Foster Falls. Or, if you’re in for a two day trek, camp out at Raven’s Point and then complete the loop the next day.
How Long: 12.5 miles
Found In: Grundy Forest State Natural Area, TN
Which Is: 1 hour and 30 minutes southeast of Nashville; 1 hour northwest of Chattanooga
The Draw: A challenging hike that rewards with a panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains.
Don’t Miss: The turret-style fire tower at the top. Hand cut from the rock below your feet, it’s a solid piece of history that hosts a 360-degree view.
How Long: 12 miles
Found In: Great Smoky Mountains, TN
Which Is: 1 hour and 15 minutes southeast of Knoxville; 1 hour and 15 minutes northwest of Asheville
Guadalupe Peak Trail
The Draw: After summiting the highest peak in the state (8,751 feet), you can say you’re “standing on top of Texas”, which has a nice ring to it.
Don’t Miss: Water and a wind jacket — this is West Texas, y’all. The trail’s mostly unprotected from sun and wind, so it’s not uncommon for the trail to be hot and for the peak to be cool (and to get hit with 80 mph winds).
How Long: 8.4 miles
Found In: Guadalupe Mountains National Park, TX
Which Is: 2 hours east of El Paso
South Rim Trail
The Draw: All the rugged desert rock and tough-as-Texas foliage you can handle as you walk the ridge overlooking the Chisos Basin floor.
Don’t Miss: The “boot” and the “pinnacles”, stark rock formations that drop from the ridge. They’re what make this hike so striking; take a minute to stop, gaze, and rehydrate.
How Long: 12.6 miles
Found In: Big Bend National Park, TX
Which Is: 1 hour and 30 minutes south of Marathon
Zion Narrows Hike
Season: Hiking is prohibited when the water is too dangerous. Check with the Visitor Center beforehand.
The Draw: One of this country’s premiere canyon hikes, the trail is the Virgin River. Most of the trail is less than knee-deep water, but there are areas where the Virgin River will be up to your waist. It’s said that 60 percent of the time you’ll be in some form of H2O; your shoes will be wet the whole time, so be ready.
Don’t Miss: The Temple of Sinawava, a massive natural amphitheater. This hike is what you make it. Most people only trek a few miles, but around each bend there’s something new and neat.
How Long: Up to 16 miles
Found In: Zion Canyon
Which Is: Southwestern Utah, 50 minutes east of St. George
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Mt. Mansfield via Sunset Ridge Trail
The Draw: The highest and most visited summit in Vermont is Mt. Mansfield, and the most scenic route to the top is the Sunset Ridge Trail.
Don’t Miss: The mountain resembles a face (at least, as much as rocks, trees and snow can) and there are 200 acres of Arctic Tundra left behind from the last Ice Age. Bring cash for parking in Underhill State Park.
How Long: 6.5 miles
Found In: Underhill, Vermont
Which Is: 1 hour east of Burlington
Old Rag Trail
The Draw: Climbing on rocks never lost its luster, and the peak of Old Rag gives ample rock entertainment for big kids.
Don’t Miss: Your fortitude and a spirit of adventure. There’s some serious scrambling on the trail, rewarded by a rock outcropping that gives panoramic views of the park.
How Long: 8.8 miles
Found In: Shenandoah National Park, VA
Which Is: 2 hours and 45 minutes southwest of Washington, D.C.; 1 hour and 15 minutes north of Charlottesville
The Draw: The highest peak in Virginia (5,729 feet) and a casual mix of rock outcroppings and wooded pathways make this one hell of a visually sexy route.
Don’t Miss: The herds of wild highland ponies. About 120 ponies roam the area, and they’ll come up to you looking for food. Don’t feed them, but have a camera ready.
How Long: 7.7 miles
Found In: Jefferson National Forest, VA
Which Is: 2 hours and 30 minutes southwest of Roanoke; 2 hours and 15 minutes northwest of Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Season: May through October
The Draw: The trail follows the lava path from Mount St. Helens’s eruption in 1980. Over 30 years ago, the volcano’s ash reached 11 different states and five Canadian provinces. Today, with the volcano still active, nothing puts that cataclysm into perspective like a hike through its destructive path.
Don’t Miss: The trail ends at the mirror-like Spirit Lake, where you’ll also get a view of Mount Adams.
How Long: 8 miles roundtrip
Found At: The Johnston Ridge Observatory
Which Is: Around a 3-hour drive south of Seattle, or 45 miles east of Castle Rock
Season: July through September (National Park pass required)
The Draw: The trail is only accessible for around three months a year, but that just adds to its allure. The park’s beautiful flora, challenging terrain and vast, uninterrupted views make it a hiking favorite.
Don’t Miss: Skyscraper Peak isn’t the highest elevation point in the state at 7,079 feet, but it provides panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the national park. Go earlier in the season, when the flowers are in full bloom.
How Long: 8 miles roundtrip
Found In: Mount Rainier National Park
Which Is: A 2.5-hour drive southeast of Seattle
North Fork Mountain Trail
The Draw: Cliffs, vistas, and outcroppings — that’s what West Virginia does. You can take the trailhead up Chimney Top for a 6-miler out and back, or continue on down the whole trail (you’ll need a pick-up car).
Don’t Miss: The trail. It can be tricky to follow, so it’s worth bringing a GPS along (or a map and compass). General rule of thumb: stick to the ridge, but don’t get lost in the views.
How Long: 9.6 miles
Found In: Monongahela National Forest, WV
Which Is: 4 hours and 30 minutes southwest of Washington, D.C.; 2 hours and 30 minutes north of Charlottesville
Point Beach State Forest
The Draw: Long stretches of secluded Lake Michigan shoreline and pockets of oak and white pine. Start at the Point Beach entrance station and follow Ridges Trail to Silver Creek and then north to Molash Creek. End at the 113-foot-high Rawley Point Lighthouse.
Don’t Miss: The driftwood beaches of Lake Michigan and natural formations along the nearby Ice Age trail.
How Long: 9 miles
Found In: Two Rivers, WI
Which Is: 50 minutes southeast of Green Bay; 90 minutes north of Milwaukee
North Country Trail near Weber Lake
The Draw: A glacial monadnock (an isolated rock ridge) near skiing on the White Cap Mountains offers stunning views in a remote section of the longest natural scenic trail in America. From the Weber Lake trailhead, hit the ridge via the Uller Ski Trail for views of the Gogebic Range and Bayfield Peninsula. From there you’ll descend to Scribner Meadow and Smiths Meadow.
Don’t Miss: The other 4,600 miles of North Country Trail.
How Long: 11 miles
Found In: Penokee Range, Upson, WI
Which Is: 2 hours east of Duluth, MN; 4 hours 30 minutes northeast of Minneapolis, MN
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: North Rim Trail
Season: May through October
The Draw: It’s not the longest or the most challenging of hikes, but its grandeur can’t be denied. With dense pine forest on either side, the canyon is split in half by the snaking Yellowstone River. The trail leads along cliffs and the adjacent chasm. The ledges are a little intimating, but the trail itself is made up of only easy to moderate terrain.
Don’t Miss: Two waterfalls: the Lower and Upper Falls. While you cannot miss either, the latter is especially magnificent.
How Long: 3.8 miles one way
Found In: Yellowstone National Park
Which Is: Up in Wyoming’s northwest corner, about a 25-minute drive north of Yellowstone Lake
Zoar Trail along Prydden Brook, Newtown, CT
Mt. Bond — White Mountain National Forest, Franklin, New Hampshire
Franconia Ridge — White Mountain National Forest, Franconia, New Hampshire
Green Trail in Cheesequake State Park — 30 minutes south of Newark
Watkins Glen State Park — 90 minutes from Syracuse or Rochester, New York
Turkey Trail in Leonard Harrison State Park — Wellsboro, Pennsylvania
Camel’s Hump via Alpine and Monroe Trail — Huntington, Vermont
Kilauea Iki Trail —- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Half Dome — Yosemite National Park, CA
Three Sisters Trail — Devils Lake, OR
Arizona Trial — Superior, AZ
Red Pine Lakes Trail — Snowbird, UT