Thursday, April 13, 2017

8 Great Trails through the Mountains

Glacier National Park in Montana
Best trails for seeing Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s wonders
Among the best ways to see Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s top sights is via a day hike. Just five short trails will allow you to enjoy each of the park’s highlights – the third highest point this side of the Mississippi, a historic water mill from the 1800s, the tallest concrete dam east of the Rockies, a rare herd of elk, and a scenic waterfalls.

Lawn Lake Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
Day hikers stand a good chance of spotting a variety of montane wildlife on the Lawn Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park. The 12.5-miles round trip from Fall River to Lawn Lake is just a segment of the overall trail. Be forewarned, though: Because of its high altitude, the elevation gain (2447 feet), a rocky trail surface, and the length, this is not a hike for the unfit.

Mono Meadow Trail
Yosemite National Park
Day hikers on the Mono Meadow Trail can spot an array of wildlife – and if willing to walk a bit farther can enjoy a great Sierra Mountains vista that most other visitors to Yosemite National Park never see. The trail makes for a 1.2-miles round trip to Mono Meadow. After reaching the open area, many continue on to the Mount Starr King overlook for a 3.5-miles round trip.

Glacier National Park
Among the best ways to see Glacier National Park’s major sights is via a day hike. Though the park has several remote areas, just five short trails allow visitors to enjoy the park’s major highlights –mountain vistas, wildlife sightings, moraine lakes, glaciers, and waterfalls.

Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Shenandoah National Park
Fantastic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and its famous Shenandoah Valley await day hikers on a segment of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Shenandoah National Park. About 101 miles of the famed backpacking trail passes through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, with many sections accessible from Skyline Drive. An excellent segment to hike is the Stony Man Trail, which runs about 1.6-miles round trip and gains 340 feet in elevation.

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