NEEF's Favorite Hikes
Bust out your hiking boots—November 17 is National Take a Hike Day! To commemorate the occasion, we're sharing some of our staff's favorite hiking trails across the country. Read on to get inspired for your next hiking trip.
Gorham Mountain Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Name: Nick Bradford, Program Director, Research & Innovation
Why We Love It: I visited Acadia National Park this year with my friend and her dog so we could only hike on trails that were pet-friendly. Gorham Mountain Trail was rocky with uneven surfaces and had amazing panoramic views of Maine's rocky coastline.
Nick enjoying the Gorham Mountain Trail's coastal Maine views.
Endless Wall Trail, New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia
Name: Dabreon Darby, Coordinator, Special Projects
Why We Love It: The trail has amazing sandstone faces and is a less-traveled trail in New River Gorge National Park. The wall is also great for climbing!
Dabreon and friends at the top of the Endless Wall Trail.
Grotto Falls Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Name: Patrick Deavy, Vice President, Organizational Development
Why We Love It: There are so many beautiful hikes in the Smokies, but Grotto Falls is a wonderful experience for families. It's an easy hike that ends by going behind the falls themselves. The approach to the falls can be done up a stream over rocks or on a path. There's also lots of wildlife to encounter, especially salamanders that love to hang out by the falls.
Patrick's sons on the final approach to the falls.
Snake Mountain Trail, Snake Mountain Wildlife Management Area, Vermont
Name: Alexandra Funk Olmstead, Senior Director, Development
Why We Love It: This was a hard hike to rate. I loved the upward climb through the woods and the view of the farmland from the old hotel platform. It's a few hours up and down with a mix of terrain, including steeper areas to get your heart pumping, and the summit view toward Lake Champlain is a stunner.
Alexandra and her partner, Kenny, working up a Thanksgiving appetite on Snake Mountain in 2015.
Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
Name: Tony Richardson, Program Director, Public Lands Engagement
Why We Love It: The Hoh River Trail is a 40-mile round-trip trek that follows the Hoh River through a majestic old-growth rainforest. The trail climbs over 1,000 feet and ends on top of a mountain, overlooking a glacier. I made the trek up to the top two years ago, but unfortunately, the views were completely obstructed by fog and clouds. I returned in mid-August of this year for my birthday. After two grueling days, I was greeted with a crystal-clear morning and got to see one of the most amazing views of my life.
Glacier views on the Hoh River Trail.
Silver Lake Trail, Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont
Name: Nicole Lemmo Saini, Manager, Digital Marketing
Why we love it: The Silver Lake trail is where I experienced my first hikes through the lush green foliage of the mountains. I love passing the calming Falls of Lana and being near Rattlesnake Point where peregrine falcons will periodically nest. Hikes here have planted the seed for my ever-growing passion for nature conservation that has led me through the jungles of Thailand and Southeast Asia, where many more favorite hiking trails await.
A stream on the Silver Lake Trail in Vermont.
Nisqually Vista Trail, Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
Name: Robert Sendrey, Program Director, Environmental Education
Why We Love It: When my elderly father with a bad knee and I vacation at a national park, we often seek out an ADA-compliant trail. With stunning views, the Nisqually Vista Trail is a perfect choice. Whether your interest is glaciers or wildflowers, this 1.1 mile loop trail is rated easy—even when snowshoeing—and accessible with a mere 180 feet of elevation change. The best time to visit is June through October.
Wildflowers along the Nisqually Vista Trail.
Sky Pond Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Name: Megan Willig, Program Coordinator, Environmental Education
Why We Love It: This trail has a little bit of everything, from waterfalls to wildflowers. It stands out as one of my favorites because of the alpine lakes and views.
Megan at Sky Pond.
Angel's Landing Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
Name: Michael Pope, Senior Manager, Content Marketing
Why We Love It: It's one of the most popular hikes in Zion National Park, and for good reason! Sure, the trail is quite strenuous, and some sections require walking along ledges that are only 4-5 feet wide, but once you reach the summit and take in the panoramic views of the canyon below, you'll never want to come back down.
Michael and his friends at the summit of Angel's Landing overlooking Zion (Mukuntuweap) Canyon.
Did we leave your favorite trail off this list? Share a photo of your favorite hike on Twitter or Instagram and tag us!
Here are some other ways to celebrate:
- Learn about volunteer opportunities to tackle trail maintenance on public lands.
- Discover some helpful apps to help you find your new favorite trail.
- Go hiking with your dog and learn how they can become a BARK Ranger.
- Download NEEF's Public Lands Engagement: Health & Wellness in Nature guide to integrate health activities and education into your next community engagement event.
Mark your calendar for National Trails Day to celebrate, maintain and clean up public lands and trails.