Hiking is one of the best outdoor activities you can take part in and, what’s more, it isn’t just for fitness fanatics. In fact, hiking has a lot more to it than just physical benefits. You can learn firsthand how it can shift your mood, or even your whole perspective on life, in an instant. Start by exploring beginner trails and once you’ve gained enough courage, challenge yourself to a more difficult hike.
If you’re yet to tackle those mountains, now’s the time to pack your trekking poles and start the climb. Take your pick of one of these 13 beginner-friendly hikes in the U.S. and get out there!
Wissahickon Trail, Philadelphia
A paved trail is a treat to those who have little to no experience in hiking. One of the best amateur hike sites in America is the Wissahickon Trail. Here, you won’t have to worry about hiking up steep slopes. There are uneven paths along the way, but not any so intense that would cause panic or distress. At nearly 20 miles along asphalt pavement, the Wissahickon Trail is perfect for biking, walking, or jogging. You can even rollerblade if you wish to!
Jordan Pond Path, Maine
This amazing trail provides an impressive view of the glistening Jordan Pond, located in Acadia National Park. The trail consists of a 3.2-mile loop along the water’s edge, giving hikers ample opportunity to take in the surrounding beauty. Although it’s a fairly developed park with boardwalks along the forest floor, there are still some rugged parts to the trail. So a trusty and comfortable pair of footwear is recommended. It’s an easy hike, even for your furry friends, so whether you choose to bring them along or someone to share your first hiking moment with is up to you.
Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, Yosemite National Park
This trail is relatively easy, but it can get icy during the winter. It’s around one-mile-long and can be completed in just about 30 minutes with a grand view of the Lower Yosemite Falls: the tallest waterfall in America.
This trail is stroller and wheelchair-friendly and is open all year-round. The best time to visit is during the spring when the falls are at their peak glory. The beauty of the Lower Yosemite Falls Trail would make for a stunning first hike that could inspire you to tackle more trails within the park.
Glacier Point Hike, Yosemite National Park
Another Yosemite trail that you might want to consider is the gorgeous Glacier Point. It’s so easy that you might not even notice the incline. This trail offers a great vantage point at sunset, with unsurpassed views from the top. It’s a one-mile round-trip and is around 20 minutes along a mostly flat trail. The view is breathtaking as you get to admire the more challenging hikes in this park down below. You never know, you might be taking one of those hikes in the future.
Tall Trees Grove, California
The name of this trail speaks for itself. Towering Redwoods will envelop you as you hike through this four-mile trail within Redwood National Park.It’s one of those hikes where you’ll want to stop at every corner as it’s so photogenic. This trail is easy, but there are a few challenges you should prepare for. Only 50 cars per day are allowed access. You need to secure a permit (which are free) at park visitor centers where you will be provided a secret combination in order to open the gates leading to the grove.
To reach the actual grove can be considered a hike in of itself. The combination of a six-mile drive down a muddy road and a 1.3-mile hike will take about 45 minutes, but once you reach the grove, it will all be worth it. While the Tall Trees Grove is the hardest to reach among all the other trails in this national park, it is one of the most rewarding.
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, Hawaii
There may be a lot of exciting trails in Hawaii, but the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is one of the easiest and makes a great choice for beginner hikers. Located in Oahu, this walk will take you along a two-mile trail towards the scenic shoreline with stunning views of lighthouse and jagged cliffs and where you might even be lucky enough to spot humpback whales. The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is both wheelchair and stroller-friendly with easy car parking.
Bear Mountain Loop Trail, New York
If you need a breather from New York’s fast-paced and gritty atmosphere, take a drive to the Bear Mountain Loop Trail to reconnect with nature. Located just 90 minutes from NYC, this moderate hike is around 3.8 miles long and is dog and child-friendly. This loop hike passes a number of panoramic views and encompasses a few rock scramblings, making it a great opportunity for a different kind of adventure than you would experience in the urban jungle.
Tenaya Lake Trail, Yosemite National Park
The Tenaya Lake Trail is another of the many jewels of the Yosemite National Park. It’s an easy 2.5-mile loop around a picturesque view of the clear and beautiful Tenaya Lake. If you feel like taking your time on this walk, there are picnic spots along the trail, meaning you can stop for a while to admire the nature all around you.
Ewoldsen Trail Hike, Big Sur
Hiking in Big Sur is a big thing. There’s no question about how amazing hikes are in this area and one of the easiest is the Ewoldsen Trail. The Ewoldsen Trail resembles a fairytale-like forest that one could imagine might be filled with gnomes. Toppled trees, ancient growth and winding creeks give the trail its magical vibe. At a 5-mile loop this, trail gives hikers an insight into what it’s like to hike in Big Sur. It’s a miniature experience, but equally scenic and exciting.
Rubicon Trail Hike, California
With a short elevation, a few drops, and surprising turns, Rubicon Trail is a heart-racing hike that is loved by many beginners.The trail is well-maintained and mostly flat with some of the best views of Tahoe. The trail is eight-miles in length with access to the shore and includes a perfect picnic spot mid-hike.
The Highline Trail, Glacier National Park
Don’t be intimidated by the many rugged peaks that welcome visitors within the vicinity of Glacier National Park. The Highline Trail is meant for novice hikers who wish to kickstart their hiking skills in one of the most beautiful locations in the country. The trail is well-groomed and mostly flat and follows the Garden Wall ridge, with excellent opportunities to view wildlife and blooming flowers.
Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Texas
Experience Big Bend National Park on this hike which will have you walking along sandy trails towards the river banks of the Rio Grande, one of the greatest spectacles in the park. If you don’t want to get wet, there’s another option to go around a little over to the west. This 1.7-mile hike offers gorgeous views and is fine for all skill levels. While the park can get scorching hot during the summer, the views will be well worth the effort. Bring an umbrella or a hat to cover you up and don’t forget your sunscreen!
Where are some of your favorite places to hike around the world? Let us know in the comments below!
Header photo by Oziel Gomez.