51 great hikes

From sin­u­ous, scenic paths to ar­du­ous, awe-in­spir­ing treks, the coun­try is rib­boned with trails that beckon the ca­sual and stal­wart hiker alike. USA TO­DAY asked lo­cal ex­perts to name one great place to hike in each state and the District of Columbia. Here



The Hugh S. Branyon Back­coun­try Trail runs be­tween Gulf State Park and Orange Beach, Ala., and is a se­ries of flat, paved trails through marsh­land and forests. They’re hand­i­capped-ac­ces­si­ble. Bring binoc­u­lars to do some bird­ing. Other wildlife you could spot: al­li­ga­tors, deer or the elu­sive bob­cat.

ala­park.com/gulf­s­tate/trails — Rec­om­mended by Kim G. Nix, edi­tor, Out­door

Alabama mag­a­zine

Alaska A short hike in Alaska’s old­est na­tional park on the Sitka Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park Trail spot­lights Na­tive Amer­i­can and Rus­sian his­tory. The path winds among finely carved totem poles, tow­er­ing Sitka Spruce and through Shiskeenue, site of the fort where the Tlin­git peo­ple weath­ered a Rus­sian at­tack in 1804. The trail cir­cles back along the In­dian River with views of Sitka Sound.


— Rec­om­mended by Andy Hall, pub­lisher of Alaska mag­a­zine


RedMoun­tain Trail, 30miles north of Flagstaff, en­ters a won­der­land of cin­der hoodoos, slot crevices and small caves. Red Moun­tain, an orange-red cin­der cone, ap­pears as if its east­ern flank has been hacked off by a knife, ex­pos­ing a spec­tac­u­lar amphitheat­er. The 2.5-mile roundtrip hike is fam­ily-friendly, but at 7,000 feet, it’s best from April through Oc­to­ber.

www.fs.fed.us/r3/co­conino — Rec­om­mended by Janet Webb Farnsworth, Ari­zona-based free­lance travel writer


The 233-mile Ozark High­lands Trail runs through some of the most scenic ar­eas of the Arkansas Ozark Moun­tains and fea­tures streams, wa­ter­falls, bluffs and vis­tas. Nu­mer­ous ac­cess points along this Na­tional Re­cre­ation Trail make it suit­able for ev­ery­thing from a week­end hike to an ex­tended back­pack­ing trip.


— Rec­om­mended by John Beneke, Arkansas State Trails co­or­di­na­tor

Cal­i­for­nia Hike up Cin­der Cone in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia’s Lassen Vol­canic Na­tional Park and you don’t just feel like you’ve found a place of su­per­nat­u­ral beauty, you think you may have landed on an­other planet. The trail to the top of the eerie brown cone is a tough 2 miles, be­cause you’re hik­ing on sand and vol­canic cin­ders. But the sum­mit views— of such park land­marks as Lassen Peak and the Fan­tas­tic Lava Beds— make all the work

worth­while. nps.gov/lavo — Rec­om­mended by Peter Fish, edi­tor at large,

Sun­set mag­a­zine


The pop­u­lar Ma­roon Lake Trail near Aspen weaves through aspen groves to Crater Lake, an ice-blue gem. This trail­head is also the start­ing point for back­packer and day hikes to West Ma­roon Bell Pass. The trail me­an­ders through forests, across scree fields, over streams and up switch­backs. Out­fit­ters of­fer multi-day hikes and horse­back rides over the pass to Crested Butte.

www.fs.usda.gov/whi­teriver — Rec­om­mended by Lois Fried­land of About.com’s Guide to Ad­ven­ture Travel and co-au­thor Den­ver Daytrips iPhone app

Connecticu­t Spend roughly two hours hik­ing the loop trail in­We­ston’s 1,756-acre

Devil’s Den Pre­serve and you’ll ex­pe­ri­ence a dis­til­la­tion of the state’s wood­land beauty. Cov­er­ing a dis­tance of 3.3 miles, the well-marked route takes you in­side a leafy for­est to amillpond that was built in the 1700s, through­marshy patches, over a jum­ble of mossy boul­ders and up to rocky out­crop­pings that of­fer un­marred coun­try views. na­ture.org — Rec­om­mended by Su­san Farewell, Connecticu­t-based edi­tor in chief of FarewellTr­av­els.com

Delaware The sight and sound ofwa­ter has an un­fail­ing abil­ity to soothe, mak­ing the 5-mile hike on the Creek Road and Rocky Run trails of Brandy­wine Creek State Park a real an­ti­dote to work­day stress. Start­ing at Thomp­sons Bridge, the hike com­bines an easy ram­ble along a broad, gravel path skirt­ing the glasslike Brandy­wine Creek with a more chal­leng­ing trek on rocky ter­rain that runs be­side — and at one point crosses— a stream. Along the way you’ll en­joy the shade of po­plar, birch andmaple trees. destatepar­ks.com/park/ brandy­wine-creek, — Rec­om­mended by Theresa Gawlas Med­off, Delaware-based travel writer District of Columbia

Tree-canopied Rock Creek Park pro­vides a (rel­a­tively) tem­per­ate sum­mer set­ting for a rugged con­sti­tu­tional. The coun­try’s largest ur­ban park in the na­tional park sys­tem (at more than 1,700 acres) has two main trails for se­ri­ous hik­er­swhich in­cor­po­rate hills, dales, bab­bling brooks and­wa­ter­falls. Ca­sual hikers, bik­ers or in­line skaters should wan­der over on week­ends, when Beach Drive, the main thor­ough­fare through the park, is closed to mo­tor­ized traf­fic. nps.gov/rocr — Rec­om­mended by DC-based travel and TV jour­nal­ist Laura Pow­ell, who blogs at dai­ly­suit­case.com

Florida Scram­ble up the bluffs of the Suwan­nee River past sink­holes, rapids and wa­ter­falls along a 40-mile seg­ment of the Florida Trail that slips in and out of his­toric White Springs. Tow­er­ing tu­pe­los shade the foot­path as it fol­lows the river’s curves, where sandy beaches pro­vide places to pitch a tent. Nar­row, rugged and of­ten a cliff-hanger, the pal­met­to­lined trail show­cases the karst ter­rain of Suwan­nee at its best.

flori­da­trail.org — Rec­om­mended by San­dra Friend, Florida au­thor and host of flori­dahikes.com Ge­or­gia Lo­cated on Look­out Moun­tain, which gives sweep­ing views of seven states, Cloud­land Canyon State Park is sliced down the mid­dle by a dra­matic gorge. Hikers can en­joy a pic­nic at the top (el­e­va­tion 1,980 feet), then de­scend hun­dreds of per­ilous steps down Wa­ter­falls Trail to the canyon floor (el­e­va­tion 800 feet), where two wa­ter­falls cas­cade into clear pools. Cloud­land Canyon has four­more hik­ing trails, from 2.5 miles through hem­lock groves to 6.5 miles along Daniel Creek.

gas­tateparks.org/Cloud­landCanyon — Rec­om­mended by Al­li­son Weiss En­trekin, an Atlanta-based travel writer and edi­tor

Hawaii Maui’s nat­u­ral splen­dor is best seen from the 2,500-foot peak atop Wai­hee Ridge Trail, a 5-mile round-trip hike through groves of guava and kukui trees with panoramic views of Wailuku and cen­tral Maui, the Ka­haku­loa slopes and Mount Eke. Go early to avoid cloud cover that may ob­struct views. From Ka­hek­ili High­way (340), turn up Maluhia Road and drive about a mile. A sign on a fence marks the trail’s start. hawai­itrails.org — Rec­om­mended by Cather­ine Toth, Honolu­lubased free­lance writer who also blogs at th­e­cat­dish.com Idaho An easy hike for vis­i­tors of all ages and abil­i­ties, Tubbs Hill is a land­mark in Coeur d’Alene. A 2-mile loop takes walk­ers on a forested penin­sula that ex­tends out into Lake Coeur d’Alene. Wildlife is abun­dant; you may spot deer, elk, moose, wild tur­key and quail. vis­i­ti­daho.org

— Rec­om­mended by Kel­lie Kluks­dal, Idaho Divi­sion of Tourism

Illi­nois Es­cape the corn­fields and flat­lands of north­ern Illi­nois at Shawnee Na­tional For­est, where oth­er­worldly boul­ders chal­lenge hikers. Here, in Gar­den of the Gods Re­cre­ation Area, the trails are shorter but loaded with in­cred­i­ble views of old-growth for­est, and 300 mil­lion-year-old rocks to climb. The sandstone has eroded into gi­ant mush­room shapes, sliv­ered canyons and­more. www.fs.fed.us — Rec­om­mended by Laurie D. Bor­man, Illi­nois­based travel writer and edi­tor, lau­riebor­man.com

In­di­ana East of the Na­ture Cen­ter, choose the wide, sandy path to In­di­ana Dunes

Na­ture Pre­serve. En­ter black oak and maple for­est and find dra­matic dune coun­try blowouts amid shift­ing sand hills. Green grasses and sedge poke up be­tween mat­ted, dry leaves; moss forms a nat­u­ral car­pet. From the crest of high dunes, look out over vast Lake Michi­gan. in.gov/dnr/ na­turep­re­serve/files/Dunes-color.pdf

— Rec­om­mended by Sally McKinney, au­thor of

Hik­ing In­di­ana

Iowa Back­bone State Park, in the north­east part of the state, gets its name from a rocky ridge called the Devil’s Back­bone— which de­fies any no­tion that Iowa is all flat corn­fields. There isn’t much el­e­va­tion change, so even ca­sual hikers can en­joy the knee­knock­ing views across the tree­tops. Kids, es­pe­cially, will dig it, though par­ents will want to hold on to the backs of their shirts as they peer over the edge! iowadnr.gov/parks/ — Rec­om­mended by Han­nah Agran, as­sis­tant

travel edi­tor, Mid­west Liv­ing

Kansas In the Smoky Hills of cen­tral Kansas, the Rock­town Trail makes a 3.5mile loop on the north­ern edge of theWil­son Reser­voir. The trail cuts through prairie grasses that bloom with wild­flow­ers and yucca. In dry sea­sons, the wa­ter level can be low enough to ex­plore the bases of the sandstone spires jut­ting up from the reser­voir. In high-wa­ter times, they can be ex­plored by kayak or ca­noe.

trav­elks.com — Rec­om­mended by Michael C. Snell, Kansas­based free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher/writer


Ridge Trail fol­lows the Ken­tucky bor­der, run­ning through the Cum­ber­land Gap, which Daniel Boone blazed in 1775 to open the wilder­ness to set­tlers. East of Mid­dles­boro off of U.S. 25E and U.S. 58 (The Daniel Boone Trail), the trail rises and falls from 2,000 to 2,500 feet in this 16.25-mile stretch from Pin­na­cle Over­look to Fern Lake Over­look. www.back­pack­camp.com/ Cum­ber­landGap.html

— Rec­om­mended by Stephen M. Vest, pub­lisher,

Ken­tucky Monthly

Louisiana Six miles of all-weather trails wind up and down ragged ridges and ravines in Port Hud­son State His­toric Site. Hikers are led through Con­fed­er­ate breast­works at Fort Des­per­ate and aw­ide va­ri­ety of habi­tat, from swamp to cli­max hard­wood for­est. The short steep up­hills and down­hills, un­usual ter­rain for Louisiana, chal­lenge flat­landers; pack plenty of wa­ter and in­sect re­pel­lent.

www.las­tateparks.com. — Rec­om­mended by Jack Curry Jr., New Or­leans-based writer and blog­ger (newor­lean­sout­door­com­pan­ion.blogspot.com)

Maine Few hikes in Maine of­fer such a rich taste of the North Woods as does the 8.6-mile loop trek through the Gulf

Ha­gas Gorge, with its se­ries of dra­matic tum­bling falls, invit­ing swim­ming holes, and sheer rock walls over­look­ing the West Branch of the Pleas­ant River. A mem­o­rable bonus is the path through The Her­mitage: tow­er­ing stands of vir­gin white pine that ac­cen­tu­ate the

si­lence all around. vis­it­maine.com

— Rec­om­mended by Mel Allen, edi­tor of Yan­kee Mag­a­zine

Mary­land The 184.5-mile-long Ch­e­sa­peake & Ohio Canal Na­tional His­tor­i­cal Park, which hugs the Po­tomac River, is Mary­land’s largest and most vis­ited na­tional park. Tackle the “B” sec­tion of the Billy Goat Trail by en­ter­ing near the Old An­gler’s Inn in Po­tomac. Pre­pare for a gor­geous walk clam­ber­ing over stones along the wa­ter. nps.gov/choh — Rec­om­mended by Dan Pa­trell, pub­lisher,

Mary­land Life mag­a­zine Mas­sachusetts

The Blue Hills Reser­va­tion, with 7,000 acres, 22 hills and 125 miles of trails that run through Quincy, Ded­ham, Mil­ton and Ran­dolph of­fers hikers a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence each visit, and var­ied habi­tats— from forests to mead­ows, marsh to a bog. Great Blue Hill, at 635 feet, is the high­est of the so-called hills and is home to the Blue Hill Ob­ser­va­tory, a Na­tional His­toric Land­mark. Hikers are re­warded with fan­tas­tic views of Bos­ton from here. mass.gov/dcr/ parks/metro­boston/blue.htm — Rec­om­mended by Kim Fo­ley MacKin­non, travel writer, now writ­ing a book ti­tled Out­doors

With Kids Bos­ton

Michi­gan On iso­lated Isle Royale Na­tional Park in Lake Su­pe­rior, ev­ery trail is re­mote. But start with a day hike to Scov­ille Point. Just north of the Rock Har­bor Lodge, the 4.1-mile trail passes along the shore­line and through boreal for­est. You have a re­mote chance of en­coun­ter­ing a moose or wolf, both of which ex­ist on this is­land. The trail takes you past wild­flow­ers and across mas­sive rocks along the pris­tine lakeshore. On the re­turn, you pass quiet Tobin Har­bor, home to loons and their mourn­ful calls. nps.gov/isro

— Rec­om­mended by Ellen Crea­ger, travel writer,

Detroit Free Press Min­nesota The Su­pe­rior Hik­ing Trail fol­lows the high rugged ridge that runs along Lake Su­pe­rior, the world’s largest fresh­wa­ter lake. The 240-mile trail, which be­gins near Du­luth and leads to the Cana­dian bor­der, crawls up craggy hills and plunges into deep stream val­leys, with plenty of scenic over­looks along the way. One of the most spec­tac­u­lar (and hilli­est) routes be­gins in Sil­ver Bay and ends 11 miles up the shore on High­way 1.

shta.org — Rec­om­mended by St. Paul-based Greg Brein­ing, au­thor of Su­per Vol­cano: The Tick­ing Time Bomb Be­neath Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park

Mis­sis­sippi Off the Natchez Trace Park­way about 20 miles north of Jack­son, an easy half-mile hike on the Cy­press Swamp Trail takes you through wet­lands filled with tupelo and cy­press trees. A wooden board­walk rises above dark wa­ter­swhere (if you’re lucky), you might see an al­li­ga­tor rest­ing in the shad­ows. nps.gov/natr

— Rec­om­mended by South­ern Liv­ing mag­a­zine staff

Mis­souri More than a dozen trails of vary­ing lengths me­an­der through wooded ar­eas and along­side springs and brooks at Ha Ha Tonka State Park in cen­tral Mis­souri. The ru­ins of a turn-of-the-20th-cen­tury cas­tle stand atop a bluff and can be ac­cessed from one trail and viewed from oth­ers. mostatepar­ks.com — Rec­om­mended by Gary Figgins, edi­tor,

Show-Me Mis­souri mag­a­zine Mon­tana From the sum­mit of the Go­ing-tothe-Sun Road at the 6,646-foot Lo­gan Pass in Glacier Na­tional Park, the High­line Trail am­bles north through shoul­der-deep bear­grass, wild­flow­ers and ver­dant hang­ing-gar­den mead­ows. En route to Gran­ite Park Chalet, 7.6 miles away, hikers might en­counter moun­tain goats, bighorn sheep, elk and the park’s largest car­ni­vore, griz­zly bears. The trail usu­ally opens bymid sum­mer. nps.gov/glac — Rec­om­mended by Jean Arthur, Mon­tana-based free­lance writer

Ne­braska At Toad­stool Ge­o­logic Park in the state’s north­west cor­ner, you’ll swear you’re on the moon. A sea­side wet­land about 30 mil­lion years ago, its bleached and bar­ren rocks show foot­prints left by an­cient horses, camels, tor­toises, pigs and rhi­nos. Carved by the el­e­ments, toad­stool­shaped rocks line the park’s easy, mile-long in­ter­pre­ta­tive trail. Other than vault toi­lets, no com­forts ex­ist here, 17 miles north­west of Craw­ford on a gravel road, so re­mem­ber to bring wa­ter. vis­it­ne­braska.gov

— Rec­om­mended by Mike Whye, au­thor of

Ne­braska Sim­ply Beau­ti­ful

Ne­vada The view from atop 10,450-foot Lib­erty Pass­may cause you to rub your eyes in dis­be­lief at the sheer beauty of north­east­ern Ne­vada’s pris­tine RubyMoun­tains. Lib­erty Pass and­myr­iad alpine lakes are all within a few miles of the trail­head in Lamoille Canyon. If you have the time— about four days— take in all of the range’swon­ders along the 37-mile Ruby Crest Na­tional Re­cre­ation Trail. ex­ploreelko.com — Rec­om­mended by Char­lie John­ston, as­so­ciate

edi­tor, Ne­vada Mag­a­zine

New Hamp­shire Mount Cho­corua, in the White Moun­tain Na­tional For­est, is for sea­soned fam­ily hikers look­ing to step it up. From its bare, cone­shaped 3,500-foot sum­mit, New Hamp­shire’s glory rolls out be­low with lakes, rip­pling moun­tains and a seem­ingly end­less hori­zon. The ini­tial grad­ual as­cent along the Champ­ney Brook Trail be­gins from a trail­head about 10 miles west of Conway on the Kan­ca­m­a­gus High­way be­fore a fi­nal push around craggy ledges to the glo­ri­ous sum­mit along the Piper Trail for a 7-plus­mile round-trip jour­ney. www.fs.fed.us/r9/forests/ white_­moun­tain — Rec­om­mended by Marty Basch, au­thor

of The White Moun­tain Ride Guide New Jer­sey On ecosys­tems a tran­si­tional in cen­tral zone Jer­sey, be­tween Cheese­quake two di­verse State ge­ogra­phies Park has in one the of state. the­most The park boasts five color-coded trails, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Green Trail. In just 3.5 miles, hikers tackle in­clines, see open fields, At­lantic white cedar swamps, marsh­lands and a 150year-old white pine tree stand. You won’t see that on re­al­ity TV! njhik­ing.com

— Rec­om­mended by Drew Anne Scarantino, as­sis­tant edi­tor, New Jer­sey Monthly mag­a­zine

New Mex­ico Com­bine the an­cient (Anasazi cul­ture) with the­mod­ern (a road­wor­thy ve­hi­cle) on the 16-mile spine-rat­tling dirt and gravel road to Chaco Cul­ture Na­tional His­toric Park. Your re­ward is­mag­nif­i­cent views of the re­mains of mul­ti­story pre-Columbian com­mu­ni­ties and cryptic pet­ro­glyphs scat­tered along 6 miles of canyon floors. Hik­ing trails loop sandstone mesas and probe hun­dreds of rooms once oc­cu­pied by this thriv­ing pueblo cul­ture that flour­ished from the mid-900s to the mid-1100s. nps.gov/chcu

— Rec­om­mended by Jan Butchof­sky, travel pho­tog­ra­pher and long­time New Mex­ico res­i­dent

New York

The re­mote Adiron­dacks are the state’s top lo­ca­tion for hik­ing, and the south­ern por­tion has the best mix of chal­lenges and scenic spots. For an easy route with a great pay­off, the trip up Bald Moun­tain is steep but short (2 miles round trip). The 8.5-mile round trip up Black Moun­tain near Lake Ge­orge has a 1,100-foot ver­ti­cal rise and even more stun­ning view. Novice hikers can skip the slopes and head to Cas­cade Lake, an easy 5-mile walk with a wa­ter­fall de­tour. adk.org — Rec­om­mended by Neil Sch­lecht and Ja­son Clam­pet, From­mer’s Guides

North Carolina Panoramic views are the ex­cep­tion in East Coast hik­ing, but on a 2.5mile stretch of the Ap­palachian Trail north of Roan Moun­tain, they’re the rule. Start­ing from Carver’s Gap on the North Carolina/Ten­nessee line, head north on the AT and in a third of a mile, you’re on top of Round Bald. Con­tinue an­other halfmile— keep­ing an eye peeled for the goats that keep the area mowed— and you reach Jane Bald. Amile and a half be­yond you sum­mit 6,100-foot Grassy Ridge Bald. On a clear day the three balds of­fer spec­tac­u­lar, wideopen views. ap­palachi­antrail.org

Rec­om­mended by Joe Miller, out­door ad­ven­ture writer and au­thor of the Get­Go­ing NC.com and NCHikes.com blogs North Dakota Golden ea­gles soar on ther­mal up­drafts as mule deer, elk and an­te­lope graze near the Lit­tle Mis­souri River’s muddy waters and coy­otes stalk prairie dogs along the Maah Daah Hey Trail. The rugged Bad­lands chal­lenge hikers to ex­plore rolling grass­lands, steep cedar-lined draws and splen­did vis­tas atop tow­er­ing buttes along this 97-mile trail be­tween the U.S For­est Ser­vice CCC Camp­ground south of Wat­ford City and Sully Creek Camp­ground near Me­dora. Camp­sites of­fer respite. md­hta.com

— Rec­om­mended by Dawn Faught, North Dakota-based free­lance writer and pho­tog­ra­pher

Ohio One of Ohio’s hik­ing gems is the Cuya­hoga Val­ley Na­tional Park, a 33,000-acre net­work of scenic trails be­tween Cleve­land and Akron. The lush green­wood­lands, laced with ravines, gorges, ledges and me­an­der­ing streams, of­fer­more than 140 miles of trails . The 1.8-mile Ledges Trail is the most pop­u­lar, with its rock for­ma­tions and box canyons. More for­mi­da­ble is the 20-mile-long, fully ac­ces­si­ble Ohio& Erie Canal Tow­path Trail. nps.gov/cuva — Rec­om­mended by Tom and Joanne O’Toole, Ohio-based travel/out­door jour­nal­ists

Ok­la­homa In the south­east­ern quad­rant of the state, Rob­bers Cave State Park of­fers 26 miles of hik­ing trails, in­clud­ing the three-quar­ter mile Rob­bers Cave

Trail. Scram­ble up some smooth rock in­clines, check out the cave said to have been used by out­laws Belle Starr and Jesse James, then climb to the caprock for a great view of the park. The trail loops back to the trail­head, tak­ing you by the stone cor­ral where the out­laws hid their

horses. ok­la­homa­parks.com — Rec­om­mended by Elaine Warner, Ok­la­homabased free­lance travel writer

Ore­gon Hikers have pounded a path where the Deschutes Na­tional For­est chose not to build one in the cen­tral Ore­gon Cas­cades west of Bend. Take the trail a half mile from Bro­ken Top trail­head, then fol­low the boot track through open coun­try north along Soda Creek to the south­east shoul­der of Bro­ken Top vol­cano. The Bend Glacier calves mini-ice­bergs into silty wa­ter of an un­named lake.


— Rec­om­mended by Terry Richard, travel writer,

The Ore­go­nian

Penn­syl­va­nia The Pine Creek Gorge lives up to its name as Penn­syl­va­nia’s Grand Canyon. At about 50miles long and more than 1,000 feet deep, the gorge of­fers im­pres­sive views of the Penn­syl­va­ni­aWilds re­gion’s wildlife and old-growth forests. The Tur­key Path in Leonard Har­ri­son State Park winds past­wa­ter­falls and other scenic fea­tures as it de­scends a mile to the canyon floor. www.dcnr.state.pa.us

— Rec­om­mended by Re­becca Porter­field, Penn­syl­va­nia Tourism Depart­ment con­sul­tant

Rhode Is­land Imag­ine a hike along rocky cliffs with the pound­ing At­lantic on one side and some of the most fa­mous man­sions in the world on the other: That’s what you’ll find on the 3.5mile Clif­fWalk in New­port, unique for be­ing a Na­tional Re­cre­ation Trail in a Na­tional His­toric District. Start at Me­mo­rial Dive at Eas­ton’s Beach; paved path­ways lead pastMar­ble House with its Chinese Tea House and The Break­ers. As you head far­ther south, you’ll tread the nat­u­ral rocky coast­line on cliffs 70 feet high, so stay on the path! gonew­port.com — Rec­om­mended by Pamela Thomas, for­mer fea­tures edi­tor, Prov­i­dence Jour­nal

South Carolina Hik­ing board­walks through eerie cy­press swamps teem­ing with ’ga­tors and op­u­lent gar­dens of aza­leas, camel­lias and bib­li­cal plants is not your typ­i­cal walk in the woods. But Mag­no­lia Plan­ta­tion& Gar­dens is a jour­ney through South Carolina his­tory in a heav­enly set­ting. Pho­to­graph colos­sal ivory mag­no­lia blos­soms on tow­er­ing trees. Stroll over the red bridge and watch great blue herons glid­ing like bal­leri­nas. Am­ble along the serene Ash­ley River lis­ten­ing to Civil War tales.

mag­no­li­a­plan­ta­tion.com — Rec­om­mended by Sharon Spence Lieb, travel colum­nist, The Glo­be­trot­ters Fea­tures and The Moultrie News South Dakota The Nar­rows Walk­ing Trail leads to one of the most spec­tac­u­lar and his­toric views of the Mis­souri River cor­ri­dor. Lewis and Clark ex­plored the “big bend” of theMis­souri. Steam­boat cap­tains in­vited pas­sen­gers to dis­em­bark, stretch their legs and walk a mile to meet up with the boat af­ter it cir­cled the more than 20-mile bend in the river. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe re­cently es­tab­lished a walk­ing path to a sum­mit over­look­ing “the nar­rows.” Find it about 4 miles north of the com­mu­nity of Lower Brule. lbst.org — Rec­om­mended by Bernie Hun­hoff, edi­tor/ pub­lisher, South Dakota Mag­a­zine

Ten­nessee A fa­vorite hike in the 124,000-acre Big South Fork Na­tional River and Recre­ational Area north­west of Knoxville ends at the rus­tic Charit Creek Lodge. The stren­u­ous, 4.6-mile

Twin Arches Loop Trail fea­tures spec­tac­u­lar rock for­ma­tions, and at trail’s end, you can lunch at the lodge or spend the night. Charit Creek’s two sim­ple cab­ins and bunk-filled lodge rooms don’t have elec­tric­ity, but kerosene lanterns and fire­flies pro­vide plenty of light. nps.gov/biso

— Rec­om­mended by South­ern Liv­ing mag­a­zine staff Texas Guadalupe Moun­tains Na­tional Park lies 110 miles east of El Paso in dusty, sage­brush-bar­ren West Texas. The park of­fers 80 miles of hik­ing trails rang­ing from bunny slopes to tough climbs. One of the most chal­leng­ing— and re­ward­ing— is the 8.4-mile trek to Guadalupe Peak, at 8,749 feet the high­est point in the state. The trail climbs 3,000 feet and is de­mand­ing, but there’s no rock climb­ing and the view from the top is breath­tak­ing. nps.gov/gumo — Rec­om­mended by Ken Hoff­man, colum­nist for the Hous­ton Chron­i­cle

Utah The 3-mile round-trip hike to the Del­i­cate Arch in Arches Na­tional Park ranks among the world’s best. It’s not just that the im­prob­a­blelook­ing sandstone arch is among the most un­usual for­ma­tions any­where. The hike it­self is won­der­ful. It be­gins its 480-foot climb at the his­toric Wolfe Ranch, crosses a wash via a hang­ing bridge and then climbs up solid sandstone. The re­ward— the Del­i­cate Arch— is hid­den from view un­til the last pos­si­ble sec­onds. nps.gov/arch

— Rec­om­mended by Tom Whar­ton, travel writer for The Salt Lake Tri­bune

Ver­mont The Mount In­de­pen­dence State His­toric Site, over­look­ing Lake Cham­plain in Or­well, con­tains sev­eral miles of se­cluded hik­ing trails that­me­an­der through old­growth wood­land and open fields. Here, Amer­i­can cit­i­zen-sol­diers built a fort that was used dur­ing the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War. Mount In­de­pen­dence, in­clud­ing a mu­seum , has been de­scribed as one of the best­p­re­served arche­o­log­i­cal sites of the war. his­toricver­mont.org

— Rec­om­mended by Phil Jor­dan, edi­tor and pub­lisher VER­MONT mag­a­zine

Vir­ginia Each year, more than 100,000 peo­ple scale Old Rag’s sum­mit in the north­ern end of Shenan­doah Na­tional Park. It’s one of the few park peaks that is rocky and ex­posed, af­ford­ing 360-de­gree views. The shorter Ridge Trail in­cludes a hair-rais­ing rock scram­ble near the top. Hike Weak­ley Hol­low Road to the Sad­dle Trail for a less-crowded ap­proach. Ei­ther way, this day hike has earned its rep­u­ta­tion as the best-known peak in the state. nps.gov/shen — Rec­om­mended by Andy Thompson, Rich­mond

Times-Dis­patch out­doors colum­nist Wash­ing­ton Even af­ter the an­nual del­uge known as win­ter and spring, sum­mer’s still time to get your soak on. There’s nowhere on the con­ti­nent you’ll find more wa­ter­falls than on the one-to two-day, 26-mile back­pack trip into Olympic Na­tional Park’s En­chanted Val­ley. The tally? 1,000 cataracts and count­ing. No joke. olympicpen­in­sula wa­ter­fall­trail.com/en­chanted-val­ley — Rec­om­mended by Crai S. Bower, Seat­tle-based out­door writer

West Vir­ginia The 78-mile Green­brier River Trail in south­east­ern West Vir­ginia is ad­ja­cent to theMonon­ga­hela Na­tional For­est, Seneca State For­est and Watoga State Park. Part of the state’s sys­tem of con­verted rail trails, the packed sur­face and gen­tle grade also are pop­u­lar with bi­cy­clists, cross-coun­try skiers and horse­back rid­ers. The trail fol­lows the Green­brier River, al­low­ing for swim­ming and fish­ing, too. www.green­bri­er­rail­trail­statepark.com

— Rec­om­mended by An­drea Bond, West Vir­ginia Divi­sion of Tourism

Wis­con­sin Think of Wis­con­sin as a mit­ten, and head to the tip of the thumb. Hop one ferry, then an­other, to reach Rock Is­land State Park, where no cars or bikes are al­lowed. That leaves walk­ing, on 10 miles of trails that pass sandy and stony beaches, dolomite cliffs and clumps of ev­er­greens, a light­house and stone wa­ter tower. The big­gest sur­prise: sturdy Vik­ing Hall and its mas­sive stone fire­place, walls of win­dows and hand-carved oak fur­ni­ture. www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/ spe­cific/rock­island — Rec­om­mended by Mary Ber­gin of road­strav­eled.com and au­thor of Side­tracked in the Mid­west: A Green Guide for Trav­el­ers

Wy­oming The ma­jor­ity of peo­ple who visit Yel­low­stone Na­tional Park never leave de­vel­oped ar­eas. That leaves wide-open spaces and in­spi­ra­tional points largely un­seen. The Mys­tic Falls Trail, ac­cessed from the Bis­cuit Basin park­ing lot, of­fers views of the Up­per Geyser Basin, as well as the 70-foot cas­cad­ing falls. nps.gov/yell — Rec­om­mended by Lori Ho­gan, Wy­oming Of­fice of Tourism

Il­lus­tra­tion by Suzy Parker, USA TO­DAY

By Dawn Charg­ing, North Dakota Tourism

In North Dakota: The name of the Maah Daah Hey Trail, in the Bad­lands, is de­rived from aMan­dan In­dian phrase that means “an area that has been or will be around for a long time.”

By Elaine Warner

In Ok­la­homa: The Rob­bers Cave Trail of­fers caves for a hide­out and a per­fect look­out for out­laws.

By San­dra Friend

In Florida: Hike a seg­ment of the1,400-mile trail, which show­cases a por­ous lime­stone ter­rain called karst. The area is rife with sink­holes and fis­sures, as well as un­der­ground caves and streams.

By Mary Ann Chas­tain, AP

In South Carolina: The cab­ins at Mag­no­lia Plan­ta­tion and Gar­dens, built in the1850s, orig­i­nally housed slaves and later gar­den­ers. The cab­ins have been re­stored and are open to the pub­lic.

By Mary Ber­gin

In Wis­con­sin: Rock Is­land State Park in Door County is home to the Vik­ing Hall boathouse, part of the Thor­dar­son Es­tate. Vis­i­tors can view Ice­landic carved fur­ni­ture and Potawatomi ar­ti­facts.

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