Not all getaways require a reclining beach chair. Some vacationers prefer to stay on their feet. If you want to improve your health, burn some calories and see some breathtaking views, than perhaps it’s time to start planning a hiking trip.
1. Old Rag Mountain, Virginia
A popular hike located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Shenandoah National Park, this eight mile trail is known for its beautiful scenery and the panoramic view at the summit. It’s not for the inexperienced hiker. The trails can sometimes involve rock scrambling (easier than rock climbing, harder than walking), boulder fields and rugged terrain. Hikers must find their way through narrow rock passages and other steep obstacles. Once at the top, seeing the 360-degree view of 200,000-protected acres of the Shenandoah National Park makes the hike worth it.
Photo courtesy | Chappie
2. 30 Mile Wilderness of the Appalachian Trail, Maine
The Appalachian Trial spans 2,000 miles through most east coast states. While most of us don’t have the time or the stamina to hike across America, it’s always possible to see at least a little part of the Appalachians. Maine is home to the longest stretch of the trail which never crosses a main road, roughly 100 miles. Luckily for the less experienced hikers, the best features of this trail are in the first 30 miles. This includes the Lower Wilson Falls, a sixty foot waterfall that dives into a broad deep pool. Further upstream, there are rapids which roll over tabular granite and more plunge pools for swimming or fishing. Hikers can also experience the lush sugar maple forests and the panoramic views of Maine’s seemingly never ending wilderness.
Photo courtesy | John Hayes
3. John Muir Trail, California
Officially over 200 miles, the John Muir Trail can be hiked in sections. The trail goes through Yosemite, Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks and is located in the Sierra Mountains. Attractive to hikers not only because of the mountains’ mild, sunny weather, the John Muir Trail has countless lakes, 13,000 foot peaks and vast canyons. The trail has its own Half Dome to climb with cables to assist hikers and an incredible view after the steep ascent. It is a perfect place to camp and experience the hills and valleys of California.
Photo courtesy | Ephraim Ragasa
4. The Ozark Highlands Trail, Arkansas
Stretching from Lake Fort Smith State Park to the Buffalo National River, this 218-mile, Midwestern trail can be hiked all year round. It passes through the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area, the Ozark National Forest and it is known for its remote and scenic views of the mountains. It is also home to natural swimming pools, waterfalls, campgrounds, rivers and sandstone bluffs. It is good for both extended backpacking trips and day adventures. Hikers can climb Hare Mountain, White Rock Mountain or Dead Dog Bluff for a view of true wild country.
Photo courtesy | Ken Lund
5. The Ice Age Trail, Wisconsin
For hikers who want to experience the past in their travels, this 1,200 mile trail follows the edge of a glacier from the last Ice Age. The post-glacial terrain passes through state and local parks. It features potholes, kettles and eskers, all evidence of the last glacial period. The trail also has overnight shelters and walk-in campsites along the Milwaukee River. Only a few hikers each year walk the whole trail. For others, there are many places to visit, stay and camp within the highly protect forests.
Photo courtesy | Kenneth Casper