Last updated on October 27th, 2022 at 11:03 pm
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” –John Muir
The United States is teeming with natural beauty just waiting for you to partake. What better way to indulge than to lace up some hiking boots and get up close and personal with nature?
Because there are hundreds of thousands of trails in our country, several of which are probably not far from your back door, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best national park day hikes to add to your bucket list. Each of these hikes are doable in just a few hours or less. So grab your hiking gear because it’s time to explore the vast variety of landscape and beauty right inside our great United States!
Best National Park Day Hikes for Beginners
Yosemite National Park, California
This beloved national park in the heart of California needs to make it on your bucket list for its “awe” factor. Rushing waterfalls, towering Sequoia trees, and jaw-dropping cliffs will have your Instagram feed catching fire. A worthy hike to venture at Yosemite is the Mist Trail which winds alongside two stunning waterfalls. Ascend Vernal Fall for a 2.4 mile hike or continue on to the Nevada Fall to make it a 5.4 mile round trip.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Right on the border of Canada and Montana, sits Glacier National Park, chock-full of hiking trails for every level of hiker. A favorite is Highline Trail, which takes you up along part of the Continental Divide. It’s 11.5 miles one way and is totally worth it if you’re up for it. Another much simpler, but certainly worthy option, is McDonald Creek Trail which is an excellent family hike that’s only five miles round trip.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The Grand Teton Mountains are majestic and full of hidden beauty just waiting for you along each trail. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, the Cascade Canyon Trail is a favorite while being a nine to 14-mile round trip trek depending on where you start. For something a little less extensive, try out the Jenny Lake Trail which connects with the Cascade Canyon Trail but continues around the beautiful lake, an eight mile loop.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Be the first in the U.S. to greet the sunrise from Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail. This trail is a four mile out-and-back that takes you to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. It can be strenuous but also incredibly rewarding.
Grand Canyon, Arizona
If the Grand Canyon isn’t on your bucket list, it’s probably because you’ve already checked it off. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and take the Rim Trail to get a feel for the amazing Canyon. It’s just over five miles out and back. If you’re looking for something more challenging, try out the South Kaibab Trail. It’s the best way to descend into the canyon right along the ridge.
Olympic National Park, Washington
How about a super short trail with a super stunning view? Blue Mountain Trail at Olympic National Park is less than half a mile, but the panoramic views of the park definitely earn it a spot on our best national park day hikes list.
Tips for New Hikers
While all of the hikes on our list are rated easy to moderate, it’s still incredibly important to be prepared before you go! Here are just a few quick tips for newbies before you tackle a hike:
- Do your research. Always check the park’s website for closures, weather conditions, and any rules or restrictions. It’ll be nice to know when a trail is known for its rattlesnakes or lack of shade.
- Practice before you go. There’s sure to be a trail near you where you can break in your new hiking boots and backpack, and get a feel for what hiking is really like without the full commitment.
- Get tips and advice. The All Trails app is fantastic for getting the inside scoop on just about any trail in the nation. And after you go, leave your own tips for your fellow hikers on the app. Get it for Android or Apple.
Which of these national park day hikes will you be taking?
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