Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US

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One of the best ways to enjoy the great outdoors while getting active is to go hiking, and with so many noteworthy parks in the U.S. finding a trail is never a difficult task. But if you’re a beginner hiker, you’ll want to be mindful of the type of trail you choose. It should be one that isn’t too strenuous or lengthy for your skill or fitness level. If you’re in the mood to get moving here are eight hiking trails for beginners across the U.S.

Wissahickon Trail, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
pml2008, Wissahickon Creek via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

City-dwellers and visitors to Philadelphia can escape to Wissahickon Park when they feel like some quiet time in nature. The 1,800-acre park is home to nearly 50 miles of trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. The Wissahickon Trail is perfect for beginner hikers and takes you through nearly seven miles of scenic terrain where you’ll be hiking amidst forest and sparkling creeks.

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Lamar Valley Trail, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
Yellowstone National Park, Bison on Rose Creek, Lamar Valley via Flickr CC BY 2.0

At around five and a half miles, this scenic hike in Yellowstone National Park is a good option for beginner hikers. One of the highlights of this hike is not so much the surrounding nature (which, don’t get us wrong, is beautiful), but the wildlife you might be lucky enough to spot along the way. Be on the lookout for bison, elk, wolves and bears in the meadows of the Lamar River Valley. Also expect photo-worthy views of Amethyst Mountain.

Notch Trail, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
Always Shooting, Badlands National Park via Flickr CC BY 2.0

If it’s spectacular views you’re after, a hike on the Notch Trail in Badlands National Park is a great option and one that will be rewarding. The short, just over 1.5-mile hike will have you huffing and puffing, but it’s in no way overly strenuous. The trail goes through a canyon and up a log ladder where you climb up to catch those aforementioned views. You’ll get panoramic views of the Badlands, so bring your camera if you can. Just note that the trail isn’t recommended for people with a fear of heights and it’s best to go slowly coming down the log ladder.

Coastal Prairie Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
Chris M Morris, Trail via Flickr CC BY 2.0

For beginner hikers who feel ready to tackle a longer distance, the ultra-scenic Coastal Prairie Trail in Everglades National Park could be a good bet. At just under 15 miles, it is a stretch, but it’s also an easy trek with no inclines. Your views will consist of mangrove forests, which are often teeming with birds and salt marshes, eventually ending up at a beach. Note, the trail isn’t currently being maintained so be mindful of logs or fallen branches.

Tall Trees Grove, Redwood National Park, California

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
Chad K, Them’s some tall trees! via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Prepare to be in awe as you complete this nearly four-mile hike through a grove of majestic, towering Redwoods in Redwood National Park. The catch: this area of the park isn’t easy to get to and there are only a limited number of permits issued per day. To avoid disappointment make your way to the visitor’s center early. The ancient trees, including the former title holder for the tallest tree in the world, are pretty awe-inspiring for their size and stature.

Ouzel Falls Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
Steven & Courtney Johnson & Horwitz, colorado40 via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

This nearly six mile trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is best done in the summer months. Beginning at the Wild Basin Trailhead, this hike’s rewards are the waterfalls you’ll encounter during the easy to moderate journey. You’ll go by Calypso Falls and Copeland Falls before getting to the highlight of the hike: Ouzel Falls, the roar of which you’ll likely hear before you see them.

Tenaya Lake Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
Zengame, Tenaya Lake via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Feel like you’re hiking in a postcard with a trek around Tenaya Lake in Yosemite National Park, an easy 2.5-mile loop trail with picturesque lake views. The mountain lake is surrounded by granite peaks and is one of the most accessible lakes in Yosemite. Following your hike you can unwind with a swim. The lake is also a popular canoeing spot and has two picnic areas.

Cascade Mountain, Adirondacks, New York

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US
Laurie Tewksbury, View From Cascade Mountain Trail via Flickr CC BY 2.0

Anyone wanting to scale a peak for stunning views without having to embark on a strenuous hike might want to consider Cascade Mountain in the Adirondacks. The hike is just under five miles round trip and once at the top, affords expansive views out over Lake Champlain, Whiteface Mountain and the Great Range mountain chain. This summit is known to be windy so it’s advisable to bring appropriate gear

Featured image: Chris Clogg, hikers walking on a path via Flickr CC BY 1.0

Take a hike: Hiking trails for beginners in the US was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Jessica Padykula
Author: Jessica Padykula (91 posts)

Jessica Padykula is a Toronto-based writer and editor who regularly covers travel and lifestyle trends. When she’s not writing or researching a story she can be found planning trips to places near and far in a never-ending quest to travel the world.