We all look forward to summer break, but too often when it arrives we find ourselves stuck in boring jobs or just sitting around wondering what to do. There’s no reason to bum around the house, though, when the weather is beautiful; instead, take advantage of your summers to travel a little and see the most beautiful scenery this country has to offer by going hiking.
Here are 4 hiking trails that make for a great summer excursion, with a friend or on your own. Just remember to hike safe – we’re not advising you take a weekend and try to tackle Everest, which has claimed the lives of more than a few experienced hikers. These are gentle hikes that even beginners can handle. Now pack that daypack and hit the trails!
Doane Valley Nature Trail
Paths that are labeled nature trails are typically quite gentle, and the Doane Valley Nature Trail in Palomar Mountain State Park is no exception. And while the park features a campground, you can cover a good chunk of trail in a day and make it home in time for dinner. We recommend bringing a hammock – they’re easy to carry while hiking – and enjoy a rest near Pauma Creek.
Arches National Park
For a particularly short hike paired with an incredible landscape, the two miles from Devils Garden Trail to Landscape Arch is a great little trek. You’ll get to see the world renowned sandstone arches that give the park its name. And if you’ve got a little extra time or want to check out some more of the arches up close, you can easily lengthen this hike into a five miler, still well within the confines of a short day hike.
Santa Anita Canyon
When the heat gets to be too much, you might not be inclined to head outdoors but give Santa Anita Canyon a chance. You’ll be surprised by how Sturtevant and Hermit Falls produce a natural air conditioner effect outside. The trail is shady and misty, so comfortable you’ll want to stay there all summer.
If you want to be able to claim serious summer accomplishment, Vermont’s highest peak comes in as only about 7 miles. It isn’t the easiest day hike, but entirely manageable. If you take the Sunset Ridge Trail you’ll get to see Cantilever Rock, the structure of which is hard to believe – it can only be described as gravity defying. To understand what we mean, you’ll just have to see it for yourself.
The ambitious hiker who takes on all four of these trails, you’ll hit the east and west coast, plus some territory in between, but even if you don’t have the time or money to traverse the U.S. during summer break, we guarantee that there are plenty of great options near you as well. In particular, our national parks are home to an array of treasures, including day hikes that will take you along mountain, across streams, and may even offer some incredible nature sightings. Now that’s a well spent summer.