If you’ve got wanderlust this summer, we’ll be honest … your options are pretty slim. Most things are closed, but the original social distancing activities — camping and hiking — are still on the table.
But three-day backcountry treks aren’t everyone’s idea of a vacation, which is why we found a few places around the country with easy hiking trails. You’ll still break a sweat (sorry, we can’t change the climate), but these easier beginner hikes won’t tire you out as much as, say, hiking to the top of a mountain lugging a bunch of gear.
1. Trading Post Trail in Red Rocks Park
Hikes in Colorado can be intense. This one, though? Not so much. Less than a half-hour from Denver, Red Rocks Park (which contains the famous amphitheater, btw) has a variety of really cool trails to explore. Trading Post Trail is only 1.4 miles long, but you get to pass some pretty spectacular red rock formations and valleys along the way. Finish your hike and head over to the Trading Post to pick up some touristy stuff. Or check out the Colorado Music Hall of Fame, which, unsurprisingly, features a John Denver statue.
2. McWay Waterfall Trail at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park
Big Sur, California
Looking for something easy, quick, cool, and ah-mazing? Then Big Sur’s McWay Waterfall Trail located in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is your jam. The surprisingly short trail ends at a dramatic overlook with Insta-worthy views of a magnificent waterfall plummeting into the Pacific.
3. Garden of the Gods in Shawnee National Forest
Be honest, when you think of Illinois, two things come to mind: Chicago and flat farm fields. Enter Garden of the Gods with its weathered sandstone rock formations and heavily treed vistas. Wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots because you’ll be picking your way along steep grades and rock outcroppings. Bring your camera to capture some pretty killer views.
4. Looking Glass Rock
Brevard, North Carolina
Easy hiking trails with super rewarding views? That’s what we’re talking about. Spend a day just off the famed Blue Ridge Parkway and make the 6.5-mile round trip to and from Looking Glass Rock. At the top of the rock, you’ll get to watch the sun and shadows play against the backdrop of Western Carolina’s exquisite Appalachian Mountains. After, unwind with food or a craft brew in nearby Asheville.
5. Fern Canyon at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
Gold Bluffs Beach, California
Head to the state park to see coastal redwood trees in all their majesty. Find forest floors carpeted in lush ferns and foliage, the occasional elk grazing a golden prairie, and a ton of redwood trees. Find a variety of trails, ranging from 1 mile to 11 — all of them ridiculously scenic.
6. Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake at Glacier National Park
West Glacier, Montana
Cedar and hemlock trees shade the path along the Trail of Cedars at Glacier National Park. Complete the short, easy hike, mostly on a wooden boardwalk. Your reward comes at the end of the trail when you hit the cool, clear waters of Avalanche Lake, where streams of water from the glacier cascade into the lake basin.
Don’t forget to keep it 100 with Country Archer grass-fed beef jerky and meat sticks to power your hike (and hustle) this summer.
If you take a hike this summer (no matter where or how hard), let us know. Tag us on Insta, and use the hashtag #countryarcherhikes. We can’t wait to see your favorite hiking areas. Happy (not-too-hot) hiking!
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