Cascade Mountain Trail—Lake Placid/Essex County, New York
Situated in upstate New York in Adirondack Park, Cascade Mountain is one of the 46 Adirondack High Peaks. It’s considered the easiest in the group to climb, posing a moderate challenge for hikers, and only 2.4 miles to the summit. The trail has heavy foot traffic and is well maintained. Most people add the Porter Mountain trail, another 46er, to their Cascade hike because the trails intersect. An easy escape from the city, Cascade is the perfect outdoor weekend when you need a break from Manhattan.
Point Mugu State Park — Malibu, California
Home to part of the Santa Monica Mountains, Point Mugu State Park is definitely one of the most scenic places for a hike: five miles of ocean shoreline, river canyons, hills and sand dunes. There are also more than 70 miles of hiking trails, ranging from under a couple miles to double digit-mile monsters for the not faint of heart. The park does allow overnight camping, although the grounds near the beach, which draws plenty of surfers and swimmers, fills up pretty quickly.
Old Rag Mountain — Madison County, Virginia
Barely a hundred miles outside of the DC metro area lies Old Rag Mountain, a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in the Shenandoah Valley. The proximity to the nation’s capital means it’s a popular escape choice (there’s even an overflow parking lot), but it does have a reputation as the best hike in Shenandoah National Park. It’s about 7 miles around and parts of the terrain are pretty rugged, but there are two shelters with fireplaces to rest along the way. From the summit, you’ll get a panoramic view of meadows and other mountain peaks.
St. Edward’s Park Creek and Hill Trails — Austin, Texas
The trails in St. Edward’s Park are perfect for anyone who just wants to get moving for a couple hours. The Hill Trail is a good option for a quick challenge, it’s under a mile one-way, rocky, and goes uphill. From the bluffs you’ll see the creek and swimming holes down below. The Creek Trail is about a mile, flat, and follows the water, it’s great for trail running or higher-impact activities.
Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail—Bar Harbor, Maine
At 1,530 feet, Cadillac Mountain is the highest point on the eastern seaboard. The South Ridge hike to the summit is only 3.5 miles with a steady ascent. Wind and rain conditions can add a challenge, also. Along the way, you’ll pass wetlands and ponds, and the trip to the top will be worth it for the unobstructed ocean view. Cadillac Mountain is located in Acadia National Park, which has several campgrounds open throughout the year and make it a great weekend getaway if you’re about that pack life. Pro Tip: you can also drive up the mountain.
Coyote Gulch—Garfield and Kaine Counties, Utah
Sure Coyote Gulch sounds like the kind of place made for savages like Bear Grylls, but there aren’t actually any coyotes here (hopefully). What you’ll get in this canyon is the amazing landscape of the Grand Staircase-Escalante desert, with its land arches and natural bridges, oases, and mini waterfalls. It’s about a 12-mile hike around and pretty strenuous—this isn’t the trail you take as a first-time adventurer. Break it up with a few nights in the canyon, which is a great excuse for some cold beers by a campfire under a starry sky.