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 to Deer Park Trail (Grand Ridge Trail), Olympic National Park, Washington*
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
- Burroughs Mountain Trail (to Second Burroughs), Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
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
- The Coast Trail from Palomarin Trailhead to Alamere Falls, Point Reyes National Seashore, California
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
- The Land’s End Trail, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California**
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
- Tsankawi Trail, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico
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
- Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
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
- 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
- Abol Trail, Appalachian Trail, Maine
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 and Cedar Run, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia*
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
- Limberlost Trail, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia**
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
- The Southern Arboreal Section of Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.
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
- White Rocks-Sand Cave Loop Trail, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky*
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
- The Appalachian Trail across the Roan Highlands and over Hump Mountain, western North Carolina*
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
NPCA-Hosted Volunteer Events
NPCA is hosting four events on Saturday, June 1, to celebrate National Trails Day.
- Join us for a trail cleanup at Valley Forge National Historical Park in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Take part in our annual restoration project at North Cascades National Park in Diablo, Washington, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Help restore the towpath and trails on the C&O Canal by removing invasive plants and clearing debris near the River Center at Lock 8 in Cabin John Maryland, near Washington, D.C., 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
- Join us in improving the Gwynns Falls Trail by removing debris and invasive plants and planting trees in Baltimore, Maryland, starting at 9 a.m.
*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.