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Fodorites' Most Spectacular U.S. Day Hikes: The List

Fodorites' Most Spectacular U.S. Day Hikes: The List

Old May 25th, 2008, 07:06 PM
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Fodorites' Most Spectacular U.S. Day Hikes: The List

A year and a half ago, I commented on this site that other than marriage and the birth of my kids, some of the most exhilirating days I've ever spent have been day hiking in the Western U.S.:


I said I wanted to plan more great day hikes and pass my recommendations on to any Fodorites who love the outdoors and are in reasonably good shape. An amazing number of Fodorites responded with their great suggestions for their most spectacular day hikes in the U.S. (and some abroad, too).

I thought then that one day I’d like to organize those suggestions into a more coherent list by region/state to make it useable. Now, anticipating the summer and fall hiking season, I've finally done so and I hope this is a resource that other Fodorite day hiking fanatics will find useful too.

The U.S. hikes are listed by region, by state(s) within a region, and (roughly) by groups within a state. The contributing Fodorites for each hike are also listed by their user names, with interesting comments they made about particular hikes added in parentheses. (Please keep those recommendations coming, but make sure they’re way above average hikes – among the best you’ve ever done.)
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Old May 25th, 2008, 07:11 PM
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Cadillac Mountain - Acadia N.P.
Beehive Trail - Acadia N.P. - keriandpaulinva
Gorham Mountain Trail - Acadia N.P. – keriandpaulinva
Trail along the west side of Somes Sound – Acadia N.P. – wayfarer (I forget the name of the trail)

New Hampshire:

Franconia Ridge - Franconia Notch State Park – sueoz; justme22

Mt. Monadnock – wayfarer; OO

Mt. Washington – leeshiebean
Presidential Range up to, and over, Mount Washington - stevebarr (especially if you finish it off by going down into Tuckerman's Ravine near the glacier-fed waterfall)

New York:

Bear Moutain State Park – Bear Moutain, NY – TarheelsInNj


Mt. Pisgah - Westmore, VT – leeshiebean (located opposite Mt. Hor in Westmore and overlooks Lake Willoughby, a glacial lake; you can see for miles from the summit, including to Canada and New Hampshire)
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Old May 25th, 2008, 07:12 PM
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Old Rag Mountain - Shenandoah N.P. – Devonmcj; keriandpaulinva; HonestAbe (you can feel you're on top of the world without going to the Himalayas)

Maryland Heights - Harpers Ferry - Devonmcj
Billy Goat A Trail - Great Falls Park - Devonmcj
Swallow Falls Trail - western Maryland - Devonmcj

www.hikingupward.com – good Virginia/West Virginia hiking resource

North Carolina / Tennessee / South Carolina:

Chimney Tops Trail – Great Smoky Mountains N.P., NC - keriandpaulinva
Mt. Leconte - Great Smoky Mountains N.P., TN – justme22
Newfound Gap to Charlies Bunion – Great Smoky Mountains N.P., TN – caboose; keriandpaulinva

Whiteside Mountain (2 mile loop) – near Cashiers, NC - bmillerersc

Bartram Trail to Whiterock Mountain - near Franklin, NC – bmillersersc

Art Loeb Trail to the peaks of both Shining Rock and Cold Mountain – Pisgah National Forest - stevebarr

Table Rock Trail - Table Rock State Park, SC – bmillersersc
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Old May 25th, 2008, 07:14 PM
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WESTERN U.S. (incl. Alaska and Hawaii)


Mt. Engadine Lodge (near Canmore, AL).- cmcfong

Primrose Ridge (no trail) - Denali N.P. – justme22


Bright Angel Trail – Grand Canyon National Park (only hiked one way in a single day) – Mrand; dockruins
South Kaibab Trail - Grand Canyon N.P. – Mrand; nina; keriandpaulinva
Trail to Havasu and Mooney Falls near Supai, AZ (not a day hike) – karens

Hunt's Mesa - Monument Valley - monpetit

Keet Seel in Navajo National Monument - monpetit

Brins Mesa Trail – Sedona - Devonmcj; karens
Devil's Bridge Trail – Sedona - hugglynn
Doe Mountain Trail – Sedona – Devonmcj; karens; hugglynn
Munds Wagon Trail – Sedona - hugglynn
West Fork Oak Creek - Sedona - Devonmcj; karens

Camelback Mountain – Phoenix – Kerry392
South Mountain Park – Phoenix – Kerry392

Hikearizona.com – TheWeasel (great website for hiking Arizona)


Sand Dunes Trail (full moon hike) - Death Valley N.P. – tigerlilies
Sidewinder Canyon (with hidden, deep, long slot canyons recommended by park ranger) - Death Valley N.P. - elnap29

Point Mugu hike – Point Mugu State Park, Los Angeles area

Marin Headlands to Muir Beach hike, San Francisco Bay area
Downtown San Francisco through Chinatown > North Beach > Coit Tower > Fisherman's Wharf – lunabug (urban hike)

Bluff Trial from Sea Ranch Lodge to Gualala – Sonoma Coast – iamq (yellow lupines blooming in April/May)

Cloud’s Rest – Yosemite N.P. - Dayle
Half Dome - Yosemite N.P. – Mrand; enzian
Glacier Point > Panorama Trail > John Muir Trail > Mist Trail - Yosemite N.P. – MRand; iamq; karens; NATURLOVER; dockruins
Sentinel Dome – Yosemite N.P. - hopalongmay
Upper Yosemite Falls - Yosemite N.P. – Mrand; NATURLOVER


Hidden Lake - Glenwood Springs, CO – karens

Long's Peak - Rocky Mountain N.P. – Mrand

Petroglyph Hike - Mesa Verde N.P - hopalongmay


Kalalau Trail - North Shore, Kauai – Mrand; trippinkpj
Pihea Trail - Waimea Canyon/Koke'e State Park – Kauai - iamq

Sliding Sands Haleakala N.P. – Maui – ms_go

King's Highway from Wai'anapanapa State Park towards Hana – Maui – iamq (one of the most beautiful coastal hikes iamq’s taken).
Pipiwai Trail bamboo forest - Maui – iamq (the waterfall at the end was a worthy payoff)


Sawtooths and White Clouds - Idaho Rocky Mountain Ranch – cmcfong


Avalanche Lake - Glacier N.P. – karens
Cracker Lake - Glacier N.P. - keriandpaulinva
Grinnell Glacier - Glacier N.P. – karens; justme22
Highline Trial – Glacier N.P. – John
Iceberg Lake - Glacier N.P. – justme22; NATURLOVER (no other feeling in the world as you crest the hill before the lake and finally see it for the first time; I nearly cried and both of us just stood there in awe)
Sperry Glacier (from Sperry Chalet) - Glacier N.P. – justme22

New Mexico:

Alkali Flat Trail - White Sands National Monument - the_dude07

Big Room - Carlsbad Caverns N.P. - dockruins

Supernovae at Chaco Culture National Historical Park – dockruins

South Dakota:

Saddle/Castle/Medicine root/notch/castle/saddle pass in Badlands N.P. - monpetit


Guadalupe Peak - Guadalupe Mountains National Park (MRand)


Delicate Arch – Arches N.P. – starrsville; dockruins
Devil’s Garden Loop – Arches N.P. - monpetit
Landscape Arch – Arches N.P. – monpetit

Peek-a-Boo Loop Trail – Bryce Canyon N.P. - hugglynn
Wall Street - Bryce Canyon N.P. – justme22

Calf Creek Falls - Boulder, UT - hugglynn

Confluence Overlook in Canyonlands N.P. (Needles district) – monpetit; justme22

Syncline Loop – Canyonlands N.P. (Island on the Sky District) – monpetit

Grand Gulch Primitive Area hikes – Bluff, UT – monpetit (led by Jay, guide at faroutexpeditions in Bluff)

Loop Trail - Natural Bridges National Monument - monpetit

Hike to The Wave – Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs wilderness area - floridafran

Hike to Catherine's Pass from Albion Basin – Wasatch Mountains – enzian

Hike up Gad Valley to the top of the Snowbird tram – Snowbird, UT – enzian (wildflowers galore)

Hike to Catherine's Pass from Albion Basin – Wasatch Mountains – enzian; Dayle

Angel's Landing - Zion N.P. – Mrand; Dayle; hugglynn
Hidden Canyon – Zion N.P. - hugglynn
The Narrows - Zion N.P. – Mrand; karens; justme22; dockruins

A slot canyon near Zion that shall remain nameless – Dayle [NOTE: Dayle, you can share with your fellow Fodorite hikers]


Red Beds Trail > Valley View Trail > Joyner Trail > Red Reds Trail - Devils Tower National Monument – monpetit

Cascade Canyon up to Lake Solitude and return through Paintbrush Canyon – Grand Teton N.P. – bmillersc; pianogirl

Bunsen Peak, down the backside to Sheepeater Canyon, down the canyon to Osprey Falls, and return via old road to the trailhead – Yellowstone N.P. - bmillersc

Uncle Tom's Stairs along the canyon rim to Artist Point - Yellowstone N.P. - floridafran (then, instead of backtracking, circle back to the Uncle Tom's area past a dead lake, mud pots and fumerols, and finally through an Alpine meadow)
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Old May 25th, 2008, 07:15 PM
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Angel's Rest (Columbia River Gorge) - Bridal Veil, OR – eurotraveller

Cascade Head - Oregon Coast - eurotraveller

Cape Perpetua, Oregon coast - you can (walk along a heavily wooded, wildflowered trail hundreds of feet above the Pacific, amazing views for miles up and down the coast, and then look DOWN on whales right below you)

Eagle Creek Trail – Portland metro area – karens

Saddle Mountain – Clatsop County, OR – karens

Paradise Park - Mt. Hood – eurotraveller

Silver Falls State Park – Silverton, OR - Hisfollower (hike behind 11 incredibly beautiful waterfalls; it was just after a freeze- so there were these incredible icicles hanging off the waterfalls)

South Sister – Sisters, OR – mms; NorCalif

Iron Mountain/Cone Peak – near Sweet Home, OR (not far from Sisters) – sunbum1944 (over 300 varieties of wild flowers so at peak season about the 2nd week of July)

Diamond Creek Falls off Highway 58 - Willamette Pass, OR – BTilke ( http://tinyurl.com/2zbvg2 )

Washington (state):

Dog Mountain Trail (Columbia River Gorge) – Bingen, WA - eurotraveller
Hamilton Mountain (Columbia River Gorge) – Stevenson, WA – eurotraveller

Mt. Dickerman on the Mountain Loop highway – Granite Falls, WA – enzian

Box Canyon Loop - Mt. Rainier N.P. – NorCalif (beautiful river canyon)
Paradise to Camp Muir - Mt. Rainier N.P. – enzian; dockruins

Mt. St. Helens (summit) – eurotraveller

Heliotrope Trail (Mt. Baker) – Deming, WA - TheWeasel

Blue Lake Trail - North Cascades N.P. - rm_mn (in early June, finding more than a foot of snow covering the upper trail, Blue Lake still encased in ice)
(Hike to) Cascade Pass - North Cascades N.P. – enzian
Cutthroat Pass - North Cascades N.P. - enzian
Maple Pass Loop - North Cascades N.P. - enzian

Yellow Aster Butte near Mt. Baker - North Cascades N.P. – enzian

Marmot Pass – Olympic N.P. - enzian

www.wta.org - good website for Washington trails - enzian
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Old May 25th, 2008, 08:13 PM
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Another vote for Old Rag Mountain in Virginia.
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Old May 25th, 2008, 08:22 PM
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Barstool-Sand Bar, Kauai HI.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 02:42 AM
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Great compilation, MRand. I am saving it to help plan future trips. I am part of a group of four couples who do an every other year hiking trip and it looks like we need to plan at least the next forty years to even make a dent in the list!
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Old May 26th, 2008, 04:32 AM
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Just getting into hiking. Anything in Michigan, MRand?
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Old May 26th, 2008, 06:02 AM
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Maggi - don't have any suggestions for great day hikes in Michigan, but I'm sure Fodorites can come up with some.

cmcfong - I felt the same way about all the hikes listed. Can't wait to try some of the ones I've done.

sg92 - Old Rag may be next on my list. Looks like a great hike and I'll be in the area.

I'm working on the Canada list and will post it later.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 06:32 AM
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bookmarking, thanks!
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Old May 26th, 2008, 06:32 AM
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Since my response, we've had a Montana's sejour in 2007 and we had
very nice hikes there...
In Glacier :
the Quartz Lake Loop,
in the clockwise direction is not so hard(except the way up after lowerlake-15 mn very hard...).

The Snyderlake trail, moderately strenous : nice scenery, not too crowded, a lot of berries...

Avalanche and trails of the cedar are nice, but be advise to go early to avoid the crowd...

Grinnel Glacier is a must...easy to begin, longing Swiftcurrent lake and a way up not too strong. Wildlife(bears, moutaingoat, bighorn sheep,..) and a "glacier's lake" at the end...Some waterfalls to cross.
It's a daylong hike if you hike from the campfround, but worth the effort.
The lunch at the lake is difficult to surpass(take an hour to rest...Peace, Quiet, Nice,...)

Swiftcurrent pass : also a must, from Swiftcurrent motel to Granite chalet by longing 3 lakes, seing wildlife(bears, mooses, moutain goat,...) and a way up little more strenous than Grinnel but worth the effort : panorama there is grandiose...

In the Bitterroot valley,Mill's creek is an easy hike, with a nice pond to swimm.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 07:15 AM
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Mt. Manuel trail - Pfeiffer/Big Sur State Park; Big Sur, CA.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 09:31 AM
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Wow, what a list!! I am impressed! I have to say, we did the Beehive trail, and I have to say it was one of the hardest trails for me. Hidden lake...gorgeous! I also agree with you about hiking being a life altering event...it is always a part of our US trips.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 01:18 PM
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Wow, thanks for compiling these, MRand.

I'd like to add one:

In the Paria, AZ area:

Wire Pass to confluence with Buckskin Gulch. My kids are not overly thrilled with hiking, but they liked the slot canyons and scrambling up the rock walls. My younger son wanted to go back the next day! Now THAT's a great recommendation.

P.S. I love Oregon, esp. the Columbia River Gorge. I didn't recommend the Saddle Mnt. - I've never been there, but would love to go back to Oregon one day.

For a while, even when my kids were very young, my husband and I would go on hiking vacations out west, where we would spend a lot of time hiking. (My parents would watch my boys when they were very young). Now I like to travel with my kids (they'll be older too soon) but they don't love to hike as much as us.

This thread has me inspired to plan a few of these types of vacations again with my husband when my kids are out of the house.

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Old May 26th, 2008, 03:01 PM
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Karens--Yes, we are fortunate here since there are so many great trails not that far away. Saddle Mountain has amazing views. There you go, another reason to make another trip out here
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Old May 26th, 2008, 03:37 PM
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Reading over this list has made me realize how little hiking I have done in the last few years. Time to change that!

I also thought of another addition. It is not one hike exactly, but there are a series of parks and open space preserves here in the San Francisco Bay Area called the Mid Peninsula Open Space Preserve. One of them was in my backyard at one time.

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Old May 26th, 2008, 04:19 PM
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Someone asked about hikes in MI.

Some favorites include hiking in Porcupine Mt. State Park, Pictured Rocks NL and Sleeping Bear Dunes NL.

Both Porcupine Mt. & Pictured Rocks have day and overnight possiblities. Sleeping Bear Dunes is strictly shorter day hikes.

Another good choice is South Manitou Island. This involves taking the ferry over and back and also can be done as an overnight trip.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 04:48 PM
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And...please...almost any trail up any of the 46 peaks in the Adirondacks, New York.
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Old May 26th, 2008, 05:04 PM
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SuzieTrue, that was me. Thanks for those suggestions. I will definitely check them out, esp. South Manitou Island. Thanks!
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