Now is the perfect time to start planning your next hiking trip. But why stop with just one?
The United States offers a nearly endless supply of soaring vistas, tree-lined trails and challenging climbs. And with four distinct seasons, why not aim to take one hike during each? You’ll get a new set of challenges in every trip.
Think as far ahead as you can. Not only will that ensure that you have all of your plans in order, but it just might save you a little money.
Take advantage of the right Black Friday sale, and you can confidently head into the new year prepared for whatever excursion awaits. Can’t decide on the perfect destination? No problem. Here are the perfect U.S. hikes for every season.
Winter – Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park
This 2.4-mile switchback trail isn’t the most difficult hike in the Red Rock Canyons, but the view from the top of Angel’s Landing might be the best available in the continental U.S. It starts with an easy-going stroll along the Virgin River before gradually ascending for a total 1,500-foot climb.
The slowly thinning trail offers plenty of challenges along the way, especially considering that you start several thousand feet above elevation and end at nearly 6,000 ft.
It makes for a great day hike, so you won’t need much gear besides plenty of water. Tackling this one early in the year will keep the heat at bay, but be warned: The bar for stunning views will be set very high.
Spring – Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is an otherworldly place. The interplay of alpine summits with crystal clear glacial lakes makes it unlike any other place in the nation. The 11-mile long Grinnell Glacier Trail offers a moderate challenge and a veritable greatest hits collection of everything that makes this place so special. The trail travels along Swiftcurrent and Josephine Lakes before climbing to meet the glacier.
Stop for a refuel at the glacial outflow and soldier on for an incredible, bird’s-eye view of Grinnell Lake. The trail is best experienced in late spring when the wildflowers are in full bloom, but don’t forget to keep an eye on the horizon for a possible grizzly sighting.
Summer – West Maroon Creek Trail, Colorado
Looking for a hike that doubles as a summer vacation? The West Maroon Creek Trail has you covered. Located in the Rocky Mountains along the glacial valley that joins Aspen to Crested Butte, the 10-mile, high-elevation hike offers quite a challenge, especially as you near the 12,480-foot peak of Maroon
Luckily the trail starts near the swank Limelight Hotel in Aspen. Stay at the hotel and you’ll get a free ride to the trailhead and accommodations at a sister property on the other end. It’s the perfect way to treat yourself after a hard day’s work.
Fall – Columbia River Gorge, Washington and Oregon
The rain season might detract some people from hitting the Pacific Northwest in fall, but that makes it the perfect time to have the place all to yourself. The Columbia River Gorge is like an amusement park of natural wonders.
The Columbia River is the second largest river in North America, and the gorge region is its prized possession.
It’s an extremely well-kept trail that passes along sheer, moss-covered rock face and literally hundreds of waterfalls. The canyon is 80 miles long, but the highlights are the aptly named Angel’s Rest and Mount Defiance. We’ll let you guess which one is more challenging.