Monday, January 9, 2017

7 Great Day Hikes in the Mountains

Swiftcurrent Lake at sunset, Glacier National Park. Courtesy Glacier NPS.
Explore Great Smoky Mountains’ geology
Much of the rock currently at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s surface are sedimentary layers that piled up over a span of 95 million years beginning about 545 million years ago. Fossils of sea creatures – burrows of worms and shells of crustaceans – can be found in these sedimentary layers at the park, most notably Cades Cove. 

Mills Lake Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
Day hikers can explore a montane forest on the Mills Lake Trail at Rocky Mountain National Park. Such forests cover much of this national park, which sits at high elevations. The trail runs 2.65 miles one-way (5.3 miles round trip) through a woods to a mountain lake at the base of Glacier Gorge.

Bridalveil Creek Trail
Yosemite National Park
Families can enjoy a day hike along a scenic mountain creek through green meadows and evergreen woods on the Bridalveil Creek Trail at Yosemite National Park. The 5.5-mile loop is particularly good for those staying at the nearby Bridalveil Creek Campground.

Swiftcurrent Lake Loop Trail
Glacier National Park
A scenic stroll around a high mountain lake awaits day hikers on the Swiftcurrent Lake Loop Trail at Glacier National Park in Montana. Flat and full of great views as well as wildlife, the 2.9-mile loop – made up of segments of three other trails – is perfect for families with children.

Alpine Lakes Loop
Great Basin National Park
Families can hike an alpine landscape almost two miles above sea level on the Alpine Lakes Loop at Nevada’s Great Basin National Park. The 2.3-mile trail sits in a national park so remote that its night skies ranks as among the country’s darkest.

Learn more about national park day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at America’s National Parks series.