And the thing about the great outdoors is that they don’t even have to be that great. They can be small, understated, underrated, super popular, what have you. It could be a mountain, a trail, a pond, a lake, an ocean, your front porch or just a really pretty cactus plant…as long as your outdoors gets you outside, that’s what matters 🙂 My favorite hikes in the beautiful USofA are outlined below so if you find yourself in these areas, DO THEM.
Location: Zion National Park, UT
Distance: 4.1 miles, heavily trafficked, out-and-back trail
Elevation Gain: 1,617 ft
Why I love it: I love a little danger every now and then…and when I was told there were steep drop offs, narrow sections and chains, I was all in. Loads of switchbacks (kill me) will greet you, and the view at the top is GOOOOOD.
Pinnacle Mountain Trail
Best Hiking Boots: Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots
Location: Little Rock, AR
Distance: 1.2 miles, heavily trafficked, out-and-back trail
Elevation Gain: 728 ft
Why I love it: I grew up in the Natural State of Arkansas! While I didn’t get my love for the outdoors until I was a 20something, I’ve come to love this hike just outside of Little Rock in the past few years. I’ve seen all walks of life and every age hiking up and down this trail. Note that once you get near Marker 7, there’s a bit of a rock scramble. READ: Not great for dogs…we learned the hard way and had to carry Charlie Bucket!
Vernal & Nevada Falls via Mist Trail
Favorite hiking pants: Patagonia Skyline Pant
Location: Yosemite National Park, CA
Distance: 6.4 miles, heavily trafficked loop trail
Elevation Gain: 2,191 ft
Why I love it: I felt like a kid on this trail! As you pass the waterfall portion(s), you get SOAKED. If the falls are really on (esp. in the springtime) bring a rain jacket… or just embrace it. *Slippery when wet* We ate lunch at the top of Nevada Falls, and it was Alex’s first time trying a pb&j sandwich(!). They do vegemite in Australia so don’t judge him…he just doesn’t know any better 😉 If you’re in the area, try out Upper Yosemite Falls next!
Location: Sedona, AZ
Distance: 4.2 miles, heavily trafficked, out-and-back trail
Elevation Gain: 564 ft
Why I love it: Holy views! Red Rock country is stunning, and the largest natural sandstone arch in the area was so memorable. I could’ve stayed here for hours taking in the scene…but of course there are a few people who want their photo taken (obvi me included!) so onwards we went. Some scrambling and climbing is involved towards the end but nothing too strenuous. Go early or late and bring plenty of water + sunscreen! This goes for ALL hikes.
Wilson Peak 14er
Location: San Juan Mountains near Telluride, CO
Distance: 10 miles
Rating: Difficult, Class 3 climbing
Elevation Gain: 3,658 ft
Why I love it: Let me start by saying I didn’t exactly love this experience…until we summited. Circa 5am after just leaving the Rock of Ages trailhead, I was out of breath and low on oxygen…wondering what the actual HELL I got myself into. Then the sun rose and we were graced with a short period of flat-ish land again and all was well in the world. Then it was LOTS more climbing until the final summit which required just over 100 ft of rope. Turns out we summited in under 5 hours…but the wind and clouds sent off some alarm bells. We quickly made our escape and sooner rather than later, it started hailing. I’ve never felt so exposed in my life. There was nowhere – and I mean NOWHERE – to hide. Thank God for my helmet because when I finally made it to a bathtub that evening, bruises were already formed on my thighs! All of this to say…I’d do it again in a heartbeat 🙂