Thursday, October 13, 2016

11 Great Hikes through the Mountains

Leigh Lake, Grand Teton National Park
Top sights to see at Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Imagine a place where several waterfalls tumble more than eight stories over ancient rock, where you can hike to a mountain vista offering 100-mile views, where countless streams and rivers rush over riffles and cascades through dense verdant forests, where you can traipse through historic pioneer buildings or stand in awe before a rare, majestic elk that haven’t been seen in these parts since George Washington’s time. The place is real. It’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Bluebird Lake Trail
Rocky Mountain National Park
At 14,259 feet, Longs Peak is one of Colorado's most visibly prominent fourteeners – a mountain more than 14,000 feet high – on the Front Range. Among the best views of it can be had on the Bluebird Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park's Wild Basin. The trail is not for the timid or physically unfit. This 12.6-miles round trip includes an elevation gain of 2,478 feet.

Hidden Lake Overlook Trail
Glacier National Park
Day hikers stand a good chance of spotting the rare marmot on the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail at Glacier National Park in Montana. Though several species of marmots exist across the globe, in the United States their range is limited to mountains of the northwest. The result is very few Americans ever see the marmot.

Leigh Lake Trail
Grand Teton National Park
Families can day hike alongside two alpine lakes on the Leigh Lake Trail at Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. The 2-miles round trip segment described here heads past crystal blue lakes through green pines with gray Mount Moran soaring in the background.

Wonderland Trail
Mount Rainier National Park
Families can get a good view of the largest glacier in the 48 contiguous United States on a segment of the Wonderland Trail at Mount Rainier National Park. The 93-mile trail encircles Mount Rainier, the Washington national park’s centerpiece. A few access points, however, allow small portions of it to be day hiked; among them is a 3.3-mile round trip trail in the Sunrise area.

Rancheria Falls National Recreation Trail
Sierra National Forest
A 150-foot high waterfall awaits day hikers at the end of the Rancheria Falls National Recreation Trail in California’s Sierra National Forest. The 1-mile out-and-back trail (2-miles round trip) sits high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, south of Yosemite National Park.

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