Take a Hike! 19 Ways to Celebrate National Trails Day


This Saturday, June 1, is National Trails Day, a perfect excuse to get outside and explore a national park. I asked NPCA staff members to share some of their favorite trails and got 15 emphatic recommendations for amazing hikes around the country, arranged by geographic region below. Share your own favorite trail in the comments!

NPCA will also host four volunteer events this Saturday, so if you’re near North Cascades, Gettysburg, the C & O Canal, or Baltimore City, be sure to check the links below. And… happy trails!

Obstruction Point at Olympic National Park


This 7.4-mile trail at a steady 6,400-foot elevation skirts along a ridgeline high above deep valleys within Olympic National Park, revealing a desolate landscape far different from the moss-draped old-growth forests and windswept beaches normally associated with this park.

-David Graves, Northwest Program Manager

I love trails that make me feel small and this trail will do just that as you hike out a high, alpine ridge toward the larger-than-life, icy cone of Mount Rainier.

-Shane Farnor, Online Advocacy Manager

 Mount Rainier from the Burroughs Mountain Trail


This moderate, 7.5-mile out-and-back hike is a favorite because it culminates with a spectacular view of a rare kind of waterfall that empties directly into the Pacific Ocean.

-Reina Gonzales, Northeast Regional Coordinator

Golden Gate National Recreation Area’s Land’s End trail offers hiking and labyrinth-walking along the coast, with jaw-dropping views of the Golden Gate Bridge and sailboats traveling in and out of the city’s fog veil. Whether on a typical foggy or a rare, sunny day, the unbeatable scenery makes this trail truly a San Francisco treat.

-Kati Schmidt, Senior Media Relations Manager

 The Queens Garden Trail at Bryce Canyon


This trail is amazing! The 1.5 mile trail is an ancient trail from the 1400s, which is worn (sometimes several feet deep) into the stone and leads to a mesa top, complete with expansive views, Tewa Pueblo ruins, pottery shards, cave dwellings, and ladders (not a great trail for those afraid of heights)!

-Madeleine Starkey, Membership Senior Administrative Coordinator

The trail winds through bright orange hoodoos of all shapes and sizes through a trek that reminded me more of Mars than Earth.

-Sarah Gaines Barmeyer, Great Waters Program Manager

I only hiked this trail once in late winter, but it left quite an impression on me. A fresh blanket of snow covered the hoodoos and we saw only a couple other hikers; it was like getting a glimpse into another bizarre, lonely planet.

-Shane Farnor, Online Advocacy Manager

I love it because it is a challenging trail with chains that takes you close to the edge of a cliff; the views are spectacular! You get to see what the soaring condors see! A close second is Observation Point, also in Zion. Both trails are magical and make you really appreciate the park and the environment.

-Elizabeth Kirsch, Southwest Regional Coordinator

 The Tsankawi Trail at Bandelier National Park


  • Miller Woods Trail (just opened this spring), Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana**

In a little over a mile you go through all the great landscapes in this park–from woods to wetlands to dunes to Lake Michigan shoreline! BEAUTIFUL!

-Lynn McClure, Midwest Regional Director



Climb Mount Katahdin, which is at the beginning or end of Appalachian Trail (dependent upon your point of view), then for a change of scenery, take the Saddle Trail back down (which is supposedly easier, but it’s definitely longer than it looks).

-Alexander Brash, Northeast Regional Director

 Whiteoak Canyon Cedar Run Trail at Shenandoah National Park


This trail is non-stop waterfalls for about nine miles and gains about 2,000 feet in elevation—it’s challenging, with great views.

-Ben Sander, Travel Program Coordinator

It’s great for hiking with young children, and we always get good wildlife viewing, from wild turkeys to black bears up in trees!

-Laura Atchison, Board and National Council Liaison

This very nice nearly nine-mile loop is a great hike for fall or spring with a really nice view of the city from Holy Rood Cemetery.

-Bruce Marshall, Director of Member Services

 The Limberlost Trail in Shenandoah National Park


Coming out of Ewing, Virginia, this trail takes you up to White Rocks, with a beautiful vista of the Tennessee Valley and (on a clear day) the distant Great Smoky Mountains, and then over to an enormous sandstone amphitheater characteristic of the Cumberland Mountains.

-Don Barger, Southeast Regional Director

This is a stunning 14-mile hike over a series of open mountain peaks exceeding 6,000 feet in elevation and that feature rare heath balds and purple Catawba rhododendrons.

-Ron Tipton, Senior Vice President of Park Policy

The White Rocks-Sand Cave loop trail at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

NPCA-Hosted Volunteer Events

NPCA is hosting four events on Saturday, June 1, to celebrate National Trails Day.


*This trail can be strenuous and is recommended for experienced hikers. Always research the route in advance and bring a buddy and plenty of water and snacks.

**This trail is less difficult and may be appropriate for less experienced hikers and families with children, though be sure to consult a map, bring plenty of water, and ask a park ranger questions if you have specific concerns.

About the Author

Editor of Online Communications Jennifer Errick

Jennifer Errick is editor of online communications at NPCA.

  • http://www.jasonstravels.com Jason’s Travels

    Huh. I’ll be. I had no idea trails day was this past Saturday. I guess that’s what I get for going somewhere with little internet connectivity – Yellowstone! So, yep, I was on the trails. Thanks to you; I put the annual parks pass to good use I won in a contest with you last summer. Thanks so much!

  • Sandy Kawa

    Now that I live in Florida, I miss my favorite hike which was to Bumpass Hell in Lassen National Park. Lassen is one of my favorite places in the entire world.

  • Jordan C. Acevedo

    Native Americans aka… INDIANS had trails to…that is all they had….glad to see we are catching up with pre history.