7 of the best day hikes in 7 US National Parks

This post is authored by Ella Kim.

As spring rolls through, wiping away the winter chill and the weather warms up, so does the time to set out and experience some of the grandest views nature has to offer, and perhaps even better than the views is the price tag; free (well the hiking part at least, the travelling part may cost some money). The trails I outlined can be all completed in a day and makes for a great time to spend outdoors and reconnect with friends, family and nature.

These seven trails in some of the most beautiful areas in North America will make you want to bust out the hiking shoes, sunscreen and your water bottle. Spending a day hiking in one of these seven locations can make a wonderful summer memory and a great experience with friends and family.

Best Day Hikes in US National Parks

1. Rim Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

This trail will always be a popular choice. The trail extends approximately 13 miles with a mostly paved trail. The incline is minimal, making it an optimal setting for an easy hike for those who want all the beauty of the Canyon’s breathtaking views at a leisurely pace. It is even great for smaller children considering the paved trail, there are also shuttle stops at different points along the way that will pick you up if you (or your kids) get tired, but the incredible overlooks (especially at sunset or dawn) cannot be beaten.

rand canyon arizona us national park

2. Halemau’u Trail in Haleakala National Park, Hawaii

Hawaii is a state that is synonymous with natural beauty, and the Halemau’u Trail is no exception. This intermediate trail is an 11.2-mile hike that brings the beauty of Hawaii’s wildlife to the forefront. Placed in Upper Maui, the land shrubby terrain leads the hiker to the Haleakala Crater and dumps off into the parking lot where the weary, but satisfied hikers car should be waiting for their return.

haleakala National Park

3. Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Harding Icefield is one of the largest icefields in the world. For almost 9 miles this trail winds up from Exit Glacier and finishes overlooking the icefield in all its glory. Perfect for a great Instagram or Facebook post if you are that kind of hiker. The weather itself can change drastically along the way, so it’s crucial to pack well and appropriately, so dressing in layers is a necessity. Beginners may want to have a few hikes under their belt to better get a feeling for what they should and need to pack before going on this hike (at least in my opinion). Though the rise in elevation make the Harding Icefield trail more strenuous for the inexperienced or novice hiker so if it is your first-day hike, you may want to take it a little slower. That being said, the reward far outweighs the cost.

Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

4. Devil’s Garden Trail to Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

Though it is the shortest trail on this list, this trail does not lack in incredible scenery. The trail follows 1.6 miles of some of mostly sandstone. Water erosion has creating intriguing shapes in the mineral to make a great place to explore. An out-and-back trail like this one, though short, can only leave a lasting impression of its vibrant red scenery in its desert ecosystem.

Arch in Arches National Park, Utah

5. Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park, Oregon

The Hoh River Trail is 17.4 miles of temperate rainforest. The trail is highly trafficked itself, but the fairy tale atmosphere makes one feel like they have stepped into a different world. Only in the later four miles does the trail turn steep, but it a relatively flat and easy hike. The lush greens and dense greenery form a canopy over the path and make the trail one of the most enjoyable on the list.

Olympic National Park, Oregon

6. Highline Loop Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana

At 11.8 miles, the Highline Loop has dynamic terrain that keeps hikers excited to continue around the next bend. The hike is strenuous with its diverse terrain, but it only leads to wildlife just as varied and beautiful. Again, beginner hikers may want to have a few other day hikes under their belts before attempting this trail (but yet that is just my humble opinion). Though the path can get treacherous, with like ledges that are only between 6-8 feet wide along the Continental Divide. If you are afraid of heights, don’t look down! The trail will make facing your fears comfortable with including massive mountains with snow-capped peaks and meadows will with wildflowers.

Glacier National Park, Montana

7. Hawksbill Loop in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

This hike is a tad special due to it being the first-day hike I did and completed. The view is to die for (figuratively, not literally of course). Especially during the sunrise or sunset, it becomes a hotspot for hikers to get a quick picture for Instagram or a perfect opportunity for an awesome selfie.

This hiking trail is only 2.9 miles, so you spend a lazy afternoon taking a leisurely stroll, but leaves a significant impact with its panoramic view from the highest peak within the park. It is a shorter, but also a more strenuous with a steep incline. The 360-degree view makes it easy to observe birds in the area and is a favourite trail for aviary research for ecologist. That’s not to say that volunteers and the average birdwatcher can’t be found either. Only 75 miles from Washington DC, it is an excellent escape from the city to the clear summit and rolling greens of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Though the summer brings beautiful outdoor weather, always check the trail status and the weather before heading out on a day enjoying what the United States wilderness has to offer. Be sure to follow trail guidelines, keep furry friends on their leash, bring lots of water, and always keep the trails clean and beautiful.

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7 of the best Day Hikes in 7 US National Parks


About this Guest Author: Ella, Content Manager for trekbible, is a writer and content specialist with a preference for learning and exploring new places and cultures around the world. With family scattered throughout the U.S. and South Korea, she loves to see cross-cultural influences around the world. Her favourite thing to do on her travels is to taste the local cuisine of each destination.

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