10 Hiking Trails to Explore This Year
1. Angels Landing Trail
Zion National Park
This is not a trail for the faint of heart. Be prepared to hike a route with steep inclines and few handrails. The good news? At the end of the 5-mile hike, you will be rewarded with the unforgettable sight of Zion Canyon.
2. Hanging Lake Trail
White River National Forest
Glenwood Springs, CO
Hanging Lake Trail is a moderate out and back trail that attracts many hikers for its scenic lake and waterfall. You will need a permit to hike this 3-mile trail that can easily be completed in 2-3 hours.
3. Emerald Lake Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO
This 3.1 mile long trail will leave you speechless once you reach the pristine waters of Emerald Lake. Permits are needed for this site, so make sure to plan ahead before booking a trip.
4. Devil's Bridge Trail
Coconino National Forest
A natural sandstone bridge is the namesake of this trail. Described as a short but steep hike, this 4.2-mile trail is ideal for experienced hikers. Get there early to avoid the heat and the crowds!
5. Royal Arch Trail
This is a dog-friendly trail that is considered difficult and great for seasoned hikers. It is a 4-mile heavily trafficked trail. Once you climb the flagstone steps, you will reach your destination, the Royal Arch, and will be amazed by the views of the valley!
6. Alum Cave Trail
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
A popular destination with many tourists, you
can easily hike this trail in a few hours. The trail ascends Mount Le Conte, the sixth highest mountain east of the Mississippi River and leads you to the Alum Cave Bluffs.
7. Lake Blanche Trail
This 6.9 mile long trail is an all-day experience that you won't want to miss! It's a demanding and difficult trail, but boasts a beautiful mountaintop lake and breathtaking views.
8. The Mist Trail
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite Valley, CA
Considered Yosemite's signature trail, this hike offers amazing views with a jaw-dropping finish once you reach the Nevada falls! This trail can be finished anywhere between 2-5 hours and is considered moderate.
9. Queen's Garden
Bryce Canyon National Park
Explore the unique rock formations that make Bryce Canyon a must-visit site! This 3-mile loop trail is considered moderate, but offers little shade, so make sure to pack plenty of water.
10. Delicate Arch Trail
Arches National Park
Rise early to hike this trail if you want to see the rocks take on a magical color during sunrise. A short hike with a big payoff, this destination is a must-see for anyone visiting Utah.
Before heading out on a trail, keep these tips in mind so that you can have an enjoyable and safe time!
Carry a quality backpack that has a first-aid kit, packaged food, trash bags, and extra water.
Wear the right shoes. Hiking boots are best, but if there is a paved trail, you can use running shoes.
Plan ahead. You want to be finished with your hike before sundown. If you are camping on the trail, leave plenty of time to have your site set up before you lose sunlight.
Be aware of what wildlife is native to the area. Look up if the trail has bears, cougars, mountain lions, poisonous snakes, etc. and have a plan in place of what to do if you encounter one.
Pick up your trash. Never litter in nature. If you brought gloves with you, pick up any trash you see on the trail and place it in your trash bag. Help keep the outdoors pristine!
Be aware of your limitations. Start out on a short trail with less elevation if you aren't used to strenuous activity. Keep in mind that hiking three miles is more rigorous than running three miles on a flat, paved surface. When in doubt, start out easy. You can always try a harder trail later!
Take breaks every ten minutes or so, even if you don't think you are tired. This will help conserve energy and you'll be able to take time to enjoy nature!
Check the weather forecast before heading out. Weather can change quickly so be prepared. Have a raincoat or sweater in your backpack, just in case.
Keep to the marked trails. Bring a map and a compass with you just in case you do get lost.
Never hike alone. Always do so in a group or with a partner. Ideally you will hike in groups of four. That way if someone gets hurt, one can stay with the injured party while the other two go get help.