For those friends and family of yours that are looking to get into a life of adventure, there is no need to hold their hand while exploring the great outdoors. Instead, there are trails all across the United States that will not only impress your friends into hiking for life, but are fully engaging for even the most seasoned hikers. You can’t always control the weather for your adventures, but you can pick the destination.
Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, Kawai State Scenic Shoreline, Hawaii
While many hikes on the Hawaiian Islands will take your breath away, the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail on the southeastern coastline of O’ahu is a great place for every level of hiker to experience Hawaii’s coastal beauty. With a two-mile round trip on a paved trail, hikers can expect to see a wide view of a rugged coastline spotted by seasonal humpback whales, seabirds and other native Hawaiian species, as well as the namesake Makapu’u Lighthouse which is off-limits to enter but provides the perfect subject matter for an incredible picture.
North Vista Trail to Exclamation Point, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
While newbie hikers might take a moment to get adjusted to some of the sheer dropoffs you see while visiting the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, the North Vista Trail offers a great introduction to the canyon with a moderate 1.4‑mile trail to Exclamation Point—a scenic outlook worthy of the name. If Exclamation Point isn’t enough, hikers can continue another two miles up the more strenuous trail to summit Green Mountain and see the entire Black Canyon and all its glory.
Angel’s Landing Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
Let’s set one thing straight for the iconic Angel’s Landing Trail in Zion National Park, while it is a great trail to introduce a novice hiker to all that trail engineering and National Parks can provide, the Angel’s Landing Trail is not just a simple walk in the park. If you decide to introduce someone to a great hiking experience atop Angel’s Landing, be sure that they have some baseline physical and mental capabilities to climb the inclined path and stand comfortably atop high places. Safety is key to having a great time on Angel’s Landing, and knowing everyone’s limits, but seasoned or somewhat new to it, Angel’s Landing is a great hike for everyone to enjoy.
Grand Canyon Rim Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
In the year 2015, Grand Canyon National Park received over 5.5 million visitors, and many of those who got out of their vehicles on the visit probably spent some time on the Grand Canyon Rim Trail. The trail is popular not just because of its accessible terrain with little incline, or the fact that shuttle buses can pick you up along the 13-mile trail, but also because it’s incredibly beautiful—gorgeous, in fact. With eye-pulling views of the immensity of the Grand Canyon and the millions of years of geology within it, the scenery on the Grand Canyon Rim Trail will stick with you the rest of your life.
Hidden Lake Overlook, Glacier National Park, Montana
With over five different hiking districts in the park and 60+ day hikes to choose from, not to mention all the backcountry options as well, there is something for everyone in Glacier National Park. A good place to start, though there are many, is the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail in the St. Mary hiking district. With alpine meadows, wildlife spotting opportunities and enormous views of Hidden Lake and Bearhat Mountain, all in an easy 2.7‑mile round trip, anyone can enjoy all the splendor that is Glacier National Park.
Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
Take yourself to a whole new world while traversing the 17-mile Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park. As part of one the largest temperate rain forest in the world, it’s advisable to pack the rain gear and some warm clothes, but even with the questionable weather, one step into this incredible green and vibrant world, and you’ll see why it’s a great hike. How far you want to go on the relatively flat 13-mile first portion of the trail is up to you, and camping with a permit is allowed along the way, just be sure to plan for any type of conditions a rain forest can throw at you.
Tallulah Falls North and South Rim Trails, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia
For a spectacular, family-friendly view of the Tallulah Gorge and waterfalls that flow throughout this north-eastern Georgia State Park, within the Chattahoochee National Forest, both the North and South Rim Trails will not disappoint. With each Rim Trail taking you out and back and on a 0.75-mile, mulched hiking trail, including access to a total 10 different viewing areas to see the gorge, the waterfalls and the dam that embody this state park. Worth the afternoon or the entire weekend, whether it’s your first time or you’ve seen it all, the Tallulah Falls North and South Rim Trails are a valuable hiking experience.
Tall Trees Grove, Redwoods National Park, California
The most challenging part of hiking in the Tall Trees Grove of Redwoods National Park is just getting there. Permits are required to enter this area, which is free and generally easily available outside of summer holidays, and then you have to drive a good 45 minutes to the trailhead. Once you’ve done the due diligence, however, and you’re sitting amongst nature’s living giants, including the 360+ ft. tall Libbey Tree, AKA “The Tall Tree”, you’ll see why the drive was worth it.
Punchbowl Falls Hike, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon
Perhaps best representing the amazing displays of beauty in the Columbia River Gorge, the Punchbowl Falls Hike alongside Eagle Creek is also one of the most popular in the area. Available year-round, this easy-to-moderate 3.8‑mile out and back trail put on displays the amazing effects that the rushing water of Eagle Creek has on the landscape before reaching the nearby Columbia River, including the 35-ft. Punchbowl Falls and underlying water basin. For extra waterfalls and a steeper trail, you can continue on the Eagle Creek Trail for a total 13 miles until it intersects the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail.
Ocean Path Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Wildflowers, dramatic shorelines, and unbeatable sunsets, for many the Ocean Path Trail in Acadia National Park is the quintessential hiking experience. With a mostly even-grade path that travels for just over 2 miles along the shores of the Atlantic, the Ocean Path includes a stop at Thunder Hole and ends at Otter Point and Monument Cove, which are the perfect places to get a healthy taste of all that Acadia National Park has to offer.