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.
Endless Wall Trail, New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia
Name: Dabreon Darby, Manager, Organizational Development
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, Senior Director, Development
Why We Love It: I grew up hiking Snake Mountain—from school bog field trips to Nordic ski team pre-season training—and still enjoy chasing endorphins there with my family and dog. The upward climb through the woods is well worth Vermont farmland views 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.
View from the top of Snake Mountain on Ali's hike with her father a decade ago.
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.
Outer Loop Trail, Glacial Hills Pathway and Natural Area, Michigan
Name: Victoria Collins-Hughes, Vice President, HR and Culture
Why We Love It: I am not a hiker or outdoorsy person in general, but I enjoyed looking at the many different trees of varied ages and shapes while walking through a space that was quiet and calm. While I don’t live in a big city, one gets accustomed to hearing noises throughout the day. It was quiet and I could see it being a space to get away, reflect on life, and refresh—of course, none of that happened as I was too busy checking for deadly animals.
A shaded, wooded view from the Outer Loop Trail.
Beehive Loop Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Name: Kelly Burnett, Program Director, Conservation
Why We Love It: The trail is just over a mile but typically has amazing views of the park. We hiked it in heavy fog which was a wild experience. The trail was designed over 100 years ago—it has spikes driven into the cliff and highly exposed edges, and you can really tell it was built in a different time. I hope I get the chance to visit Acadia again to see the views without foggy conditions and tackle the historic Precipice Path.
Kelly poses on a rocky cliff face during a foggy day in Acadia National Park.
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.
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.
- Find the perfect hiking trail for your kids with these tips from our friends at the American Hiking Society.
- 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.