For many years, I have enjoyed nature around the country by going on hikes both short and long. While multi-day hikes can be a great way to spend time with family or friends and connecting with nature, I actually prefer the shorter day hike variety. Day hikes are generally shorter, take less preparation, and are physically less demanding than longer hikes. Over time I’ve experienced many different trails and have found some to be more superior than others. Here are some of the coolest, more fun camping areas and hiking trails that you can find around the United States to spend a day, or a few, exploring.
Stone Mountain, Georgia
Stone Mountain is probably one of my favorite places to visit on vacation for a number of reasons. Stone Mountain features over 15 miles of unique, wildlife filled trails that offer something for everyone from beginner to expert. Along with hiking you have access to amazing camping, the fun filled adventure park, and delicious fine dining right at your fingertips. If you want to stay for more than a day you can camp at their lakeside campsites for a reasonably decent price. Out of all the places I’ve visited, Stone Mountain will always be among my favorites.
Joshua Tree, California
Joshua Tree is a popular hiking, biking, and camping destination that I got to experience while visiting relatives over the course of several Spring breaks in California. This national park offers endless exploration and self discovery opportunities that almost everyone can benefit from. Not only do they have hiking trails but you can choose to participate in their ranger program, guided tours, and explore the local scenery by mountain biking. If rock climbing is an interest to you this park offers over ten mountains that are more than five thousand feet in height. This park with its’ beautiful views, rich history, and wide range of activities will have you coming back for more soon after your first visit.
Yosemite National Park is another great hiking opportunity located in the beautiful state of California. The park occupies over 700,000 acres and features over 800 miles of hiking trails. Among the opportunities offered they have trails that feature large forests, glacier-formed mountains, lakes, rivers, and a wide variety of wildlife that will be sure to make each and every trip a unique experience. Over 3 million people visit the park each year and they issue nearly 15,000 permits for overnight backpacking annually. If you love taking pictures or just being out in nature, you can’t go wrong with Yosemite National Park.
Zion National Park, Utah
On our way to Joshua Tree on vacation, we decided to take a detour and spend two days in Zion National Park, located in Utah, and were happy we made the stop. Zion offers some of the most amazing cliff and canyon scenery I have ever seen in real life. The waterfalls, sandstone canyon, and Virgin River give you an excellent opportunity to take some amazing pictures and make memories you will treasure for a lifetime. While this can be a fun place to visit, if you are afraid of heights or have claustrophobia you may want to choose another destination. The steep cliffs could give you vertigo while some of the 2 foot and less gaps you may have to squeeze through may leave you out of breath.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali is a park and hiking destination that I am planning on visiting by the end of this year. This national park is a true campers dream and a real backwoods hiking opportunity. While they do offer some forms of marked trails, most hikers will not be following a map on their expedition into the wild in this park. Since much of this park is not well mapped and the trails are not groomed you will be forging your own way, not something you can say you did in many parks in the United States today. While this sounds exciting it also means that you will encounter many unexpected situations and even some dangers. If you can brave the conditions, you will find some of the most rewarding natural beauty that you’ve ever laid your eyes on.
These are five of the most astounding and beautiful places that you can hike around the country. If you love the outdoors I highly suggest giving some of these trails a try, or visiting one of the thousands of other trails around the country. Remember to prepare properly, be safe, and have fun. Enjoy!
For more hiking and outdoor reading and information from this author, check out:
Things to Know Before Hiking the Appalachian Trail
Great Outdoor Activities You Should Give a Shot
10 Great Camping Hacks to Make the Outdoors Easy