11 Insanely Good Hiking Destinations From Coast To Coast
Here’s a list of some of the best hikes around the USA…from coast to coast.
1. Half Dome Day Hike at Yosemite
Where it’s at: Yosemite Village, California
Who it’s for: Serious thrill seekers
What it is: In 1865, it was reported that the summit of Half Dome was “perfectly inaccessible, being probably one of the prominent points about the Yosemite which never has been, and never will be, trodden by human foot.” Now, not only can you reach the summit, but it’s one of Yosemite’s great icons.
How it’s done: There’s plenty of wilderness to be had, but the most infamous part of this hike is the ascent up to the summit. Hikers are required to climb 400 feet straight up two metal cables…without rock-climbing equipment. Look closely at the photo above, and you’ll see the brave ladder-climbing souls, disappearing into the mist.
2. Little Death Hollow
Where it’s at: Near Boulder, Utah
Who it’s for: Fans of remote places and small spaces
What it is: The big draw of this eight-mile canyon hike in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is the gorgeous section of slot canyon.
How it’s done: Follow the the Burr Trail east from the town of Boulder for 18.4 miles, take a deep breath, and follow a dirt road into the Circle Cliffs. Larger backpacks can prove to be problematic in tighter parts of the slot canyon, so pack light.
3. Grinnel Glacier Trail
Where it’s at: Glacier National Park in Montana
Who it’s for: Glacier lovers and flower children
What it is: An undeniably beautiful hike that’s got it all: awe-inspiring glaciers, flowery meadows straight out of a children’s book, and bighorn sheep.
How it’s done:Rangers used to lead tours out onto the glaciers, but in recent years, the glaciers have begun retreating, and the tours have stopped as a result. You’re still allowed to venture out, and if nothing else, the views are just as nice. Boat shuttles take you across lakes, and trails lead to alpine meadows with seriously magical wildflowers.
4. Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park
Where it’s at: Mountain in Bar Harbor, Maine
Who it’s for: Beach enthusiasts and sunrise obsessives
What it is: Paradise, basically. Climb the open summit early in the morning, and you’ll be among the first people to view the sun rising in America that day!
How it’s done: This is a backpacker’s dream. No tight spaces, no treacherous treks. Take in the beach (especially during the summer) and, if you’re feeling ambitious, hit up this 4-mile trail.
5. Isle Royale National Park
Where it’s at: Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Who it’s for: Lake hoppers and fans of lighthouses
What it is: A boreal forest with a plenitude of fir and spruce trees. From the island, catch spectacular views of Lake Superior’s rugged coast.
How it’s done: Hikes range from 10 miles (up Mount Franklin) to 3.8 (an adventure into Suzy’s Cave). Plus, there’s canoeing to be had!
6. The South Rim at Big Bend
Where it’s at: Big Bend National Park, Texas
Who it’s for: Tough Texans, or those who aspire to be them
What it is: Widely regarded as the “classic Texas hike,” hikers can expect a semi-strenuous but completely rewarding journey with magnificent views that, on a clear day, stretch all the way into Mexico.
How it’s done: If you’re a beast, go ahead and try to tackle this 12.6-mile hike in one go. But if you’re into, say, enjoying yourself…then take advantage of the many camping areas along the trail.
7. Conundrum Hot Springs Colorado
Where it’s at: Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Who it’s for: Backpackers
What it is: In addition to the hot springs, you’ll catch views of Cathedral Peak, Conundrum Peak, and Castle Peak. Like log bridges? You’re in for a treat.
How it’s done: The trail basically runs parallel to Conundrum Creek. You’ll dip into a valley, wind through the woods, pass through a meadow, and hit three river crossings before the hot springs appear on the left side of the creek.
8. Bald Mountain From Lolo Pass
Where it’s at: The central Oregon coast range
Who it’s for: Photographers (and amateur photographers)
What it is: A delightfully uncrowded (especially on weekdays) trail with picturesque views worth crying over. The majestic Mount Hood looms in the distance,
How it’s done: The hike follows a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Lolo Pass to Timberline Trail. Next, you’ll follow a basically abandoned lookout trail to the summit of Bald Mountain. (Bonus: Traces of an old fire lookout from the 1940s.)
9. The Appalacian Trail at Grayson Highlands State Park
Where it’s at: Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia
Who it’s for: Pony people
What it is:WILD PONIES. Need we say more? You. Will. See. Wild. Ponies. Here. Almost guaranteed. And they won’t run away! Also, although the views feature pretty magnificent tree-scapes, the trail itself is quite open with little foliage.
How it’s done: With sunscreen. Little shade means a lotta sunburn. Also, you must pet a pony.
10. Dolder Nature Trail at Lake Tahoe
Where it’s at: Sugar Pine Point State Park, Lake Tahoe, California
Who it’s for: Casual trailblazers who think “hiking” and “relaxing” aren’t mutually exclusive
What it is: A scenic hike without the effort near the lake shore. Gaze at the supremely tall trees, play on the sandy beach, and breathe in that good Lake Tahoe air.
How it’s done: Walk between the water tower and the caretaker’s house and continue down on the paved path before you. Next, find the small dirt path, hike to your heart’s content, and smile when you see that gorgeous beach. While you’re there, pay a visit to the highest operating navigational lighthouse too.
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Posted May 1, 2015