The summer months bring family vacations, beautiful weather, and much-needed exposure to the outdoors after being cooped up during the winter. North America, and the U.S. in particular, is home to some gorgeous views, a wide expanse of ecosystems, and fascinating wildlife. Experience some major group bonding and find a new, refreshed connection with nature on one of these excellent hiking trails.
Kalalau Trail - Kauai, Hawaii
Along the Nā Pali Coast is a trail that accesses some of the absolute best views anyone could ask for, period. You are never without a brilliant blue panorama along the coast and the lush valleys and verdant forests give an eye-catching contrast and much-desired shade. End your struggle at Kalalau Beach where you can look down on the sandy shoreline from high above or make your way to the water’s edge and reward yourself with a swim or the shade of the caves down below. This is not a trail for novices so be aware of the difficulty before you attempt one of the hardest trails in Hawaii. The views are worth the struggle, though.
Angel’s Landing - Zion National Park, Utah
Heading back to the continental U.S., Angel’s Landing is one of the most visited hiking trails in the country for its amazing views of the American Southwest, rocky mountain cliffs, and the difficult but rewarding trip to Angel’s Landing, one of the tallest rock formations in the park. Intermediate hikers from all over the world come down to Utah to test their skills on the rocky terrain. Refrigerator Canyon grants some shade and cool breezes but it is probably best to tackle this hike in the morning hours before the landscape heats up. The trails are well maintained but do often become strenuous uphill battles in the full sun with almost no shade. Absolutely do not forget to keep yourself hydrated on this trail and bring sun protection.
Snowmass Wilderness, Maroon Bells - Colorado
Generally considered to be one of the best hiking areas in the country, Snowmass Wilderness is one of four major wilderness areas in Colorado with several different trails of varying difficulties. This makes it a great destination for all manner of hikers from the curious novice to expert hikers. Arrive in the spring and summer months when the irises and wildflowers are blooming in the brilliantly green valleys, hike in the morning and witness the early fog coat the landscape like a blanket, and observe the native wildlife as they graze and hunt in their natural habitat. End your trail at one of the most photographed peaks in Colorado, Maroon Bells, framed by lush evergreens and clear creeks.
Mooney Falls - Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Hikers with a fear of heights should not attempt this treacherous descent into the depths of the Grand Canyon where you will find an oasis more beautiful than a treasure chest of jewels. For those of you who enjoy a challenge and aren’t afraid of steep cliffs or narrow paths, the falls at the end of your journey are one heck of a payoff. Plummeting over 200 feet from the canyon wall above, Mooney Falls lands in a turquoise pool, framed spectacularly by lovely flora and the soaring rock face on all sides. This incredibly photogenic destination is not to be taken lightly and should be undertaken by those with expert hiking experience, and even then under the direction of a trail guide.
Cascade Mountain - Keene, New York
Jumping over to the northeast, the trails leading to the peak of Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks is a relatively easy hike suitable for all ages. Aside from a few steep inclines, the hike is fairly moderate and can be done by a family with children in a matter of two to three hours and less for experienced hikers. The summer months can be pretty busy for this popular trail so be aware that you may have company at the peak but the 360 views from the top are well worth the crowds. Including the mountain’s rise above sea level, the peak rests above 6000 feet and it can take some getting used to. Be aware of the rise in altitude and don’t push yourself if you feel faint. Keep hydrated and take frequent rests and you will be happy you made the climb.
The Lost Coast - California
The rocky terrain along this 80 mile stretch of Californian coast was deemed too impenetrable by developers and was left untouched. While the trails are extended over several dozen miles, the actual hike is moderate. Hike a section for a day or backpack through the entire area over a weekend and see the whole landscape. The Lost Coast is said to be home to some of the purest views of the ocean. Parts are impassable during high tide, which is where you get the name Lost Coast, and should be taken seriously. Gorgeous views, fascinating and mystical looking sites like the abandoned lighthouse, and unimpeded views of the coast make this one of the best trails in the States.
These hiking trails, and hundreds of others, come from some of the absolute best national parks in the United States. If you are looking for a healthy, scenic activity for a large group or you’re wanting to tear your children away from their video games for a nice family bonding experience, hiking is an excellent, and inexpensive, way to become reacquainted with Mother Nature and exercise your tired limbs.