Hiking is one of the best ways to take advantage of the cooler fall weather. You can be outside, it’s ideal for any age group, and it’s inexpensive (or even free). This fall, take a deep breath and head out into nature. Don’t forget your sunscreen, bug spray and sun protective clothing, however. Here are 8 of the best hikes in the United States.
Long Trail, Jay Peak Long Trail North
This is the oldest trail in the United States that is this long. You can hike the trail from Massachusetts to Canada. The Jay Peak section in Vermont is a little easier for beginners. However, it still delivers enough interest to make you feel like you’re on a real adventure.
Banner Elk, NC
This breathtaking series of waterfalls and swimming holes lies about one mile from the trail head, which itself lies about 6 miles down a dirt road. The hike isn’t strenuous, but it keeps you guessing. Although the trail is well marked, you’ll have to traverse the creek several times. Bring amphibious shoes to make the experience more comfortable. You might want them once you reach the falls anyway—the rocks there can be slippery.
Appalachian Trail, 100-Mile Wilderness
The first 30 miles of this trail never cross a paved road. You’ll pass through verdant forests and experience the Lower Wilson Falls. It’s a beautiful way to take in the scenery of Maine.
Although this easy hike is only a little more than 4 miles, it takes you to an exquisite panorama of Lake Champlain. Plus, the waterfalls at the beginning of the hike are impressive.
Worthington State Forest, NJ
The main loop of this trail is short but steep. However, you’ll hike to some magnificent views of Delaware Water Gap, where you can catch sight of bald eagles if you’re lucky.
Rough Ridge Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway
You’ll be able to see striking views of Grandfather Mountain and the famous Linn Cove Viaduct from the overlooks on this trail. The trail is somewhat steep, but it’s doable even with children. Several boardwalks along the route provide perfect places to rest as you enjoy the vistas that just keep getting better. You can also find wild blueberries on your hike if you visit during the height of the summer.
Blue Spring Loop, Conecuh National Forest
This 6.1-mile loop takes you up easy hills and down into beautiful valleys. You’ll experience the full splendor of a southern forest and walk by streams and swamps. You might even meet an alligator or two.
West Maroon Creek Trail
This one is tough, but it’s worth it. You’ll begin by hiking through a wildflower-lined glacial valley. Then, you’ll go over the Maroon Pass at almost 12,500 feet. Once you’re in the pass, you’ll be able to glimpse The Maroon Bells, Pyramid Peaks and Treasure Mountains. The 13-mile hike is a popular day trip. If you don’t want to hike that far, you can take the 3.4-mile hike to Crater Lake, where you can always camp for the night.
Are these best hikes in the United States inaccessible from where you live? You can always find hikes in your area. Look toward your local park or beach, or just walk around a different neighborhood for a change of scenery. You can find local hiking groups on Meetup.com or Facebook, or you can start your own.