Summer is coming, meaning that hiking and backpacking season are right around the corner. It’s time to get outside! There are so many areas full of wonder and beauty just waiting to be explored, but let’s start with just seven.
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia, situated on the rugged coast of Maine, is the only national park in the northeast, and it boasts an extensive system of foot trails leading to incredible views of islands, valley lakes, Frenchman Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. The park is also home to many plants and animals, and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
Photo Credit: Adventure Central
2. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
This one is on my “bucket list,” and I hope to get there soon! Famous for being home to some of Alaska’s most spectacular and challenging mountains, the refuge also has its grizzlies, wolves, dall sheep, musk ox and caribou. The Refuge remains a symbol of America’s vast, remote wilderness, and it deserves to be left untouched for future generations to enjoy.
3. Glacier National Park, Montana
Most people think the Going-to-the-Sun Road is the only highlight in the park. Not true! Glacier contains all sorts of wonders, including pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains and spectacular lakes. There are over 700 miles of trails, making the park a hiker’s paradise.
4. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
This a personal favorite, since it was in the Grand Canyon that I did my first backpack alone. It’s known as one of the world’s most enduring natural wonders and a hiking paradise, and it really lives up to this reputation. A powerful and inspiring landscape, Grand Canyon boasts unique geologic formations through its immense size: the canyon is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Wow!
5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
I haven’t visited this park, but have heard of its beauty from several friends. This is in fact America’s most visited national park, straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. A multitude of hiking trails will reveal a rich diversity of plant and animal life, as well as remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture.
6. John Muir Wilderness, California
This photo, of Mount Goode and Long Lake, is typical of the wilderness wonderland you will discover if you explore here. Named for the Scottish-American explorer who was a passionate believer in the importance of preserving wilderness, this area is dotted with alpine lakes, glaciers, towering granite peaks and lush green meadows. It covers 650,000 acres: 299,000 acres are managed by the Inyo National Forest, while the remainder is managed by the Sierra National Forest.
7. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
My husband, son and I climbed in the Never Summer mountains, on the northwest border of Rocky Mountain National Park a couple of years ago. This was in August, so you can see how they get their name! The park is spectacular: 415 square miles of outstanding mountain environments, alpine and subalpine forests, not to mention over 300 miles of hiking trails. It’s a must.
What are your favorite hiking places?
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Photo Credit: thinkstock