11 Unique Hikes to Take This Spring
As the weather warms and we are once again woken in the morning by birds chirping, our bodies ache to get outside. We wait for time spent outdoors, without the cold bite of winter pushing back to our houses. Spring is a magical time of year. With Spring comes new goals, new possibilities and new hopes. As the ground thaws, our ambition rises. While we might set our new year goals in January, they seem so much more attainable in the Spring.
This Spring we want to help you get outside. Get your bodies moving. And what better way than discovering unique hikes around the United States. A weekend spent in the mountains is never a weekend wasted. No matter where you are based in the U.S., we’ve tried to find a hike that will work for you!
Crow Pass Trail Alaska
Alaska has some of the most untouched beauty in all of America. As we began our research for this article we started to realize quickly that there were hundreds of hikes in Alaska alone that we could share. And with hundreds of hikes to choose from, it comes with great responsibility to pick the perfect hike for you. After some debate, we’ve chosen to share the Crow Pass trail which also has an option for an overnight backpacking trip for those looking to spend even more time outside.
The Crow Pass trail has a great combination of historic flavor and spectacular scenery. It was the route of the Iditarod trail between the Seward, Knik and Alaskan gold mining areas. The highlight of this hike is the Raven Glacier, which isn’t enormous by the typical Alaskan standards but it has a great backcountry setting. It’s definitely a hike for later Spring, as you can only imagine in Alaska’s winter tundra. No matter what time of year you choose to do this hike, make sure that you take plenty of layers!
Trailhead: The trailhead is about 4 miles along the Knik River Road, off the old Glenn Highway maybe 30 minutes drive north of Anchorage. You’ll have to pay a very small fee for parking. The paved road continues up but it doesn’t have a view of the glacier.
Distance: This trail is 9 miles round trip to the ridge, though it's possible to continue further to the South Summit of Pioneer Peak. It's about 5000 feet of climbing to reach the ridge and the best views, and you will notice a series of picnic tables where you could sit and rest on your way up.
Backpacking option: The trail continues past the Raven Glacier, descending the Raven Creek and Eagle River and ends at the Eagle River Nature Center north of Anchorage. This journey is about 26 miles, requires one unbridged stream crossing, and involves less climbing if you start from the Crow Pass trailhead.
The Cascades in Washington
The Cascade Range covers a vast majority of the western North America, covering part of the U.S. and the southern part of British Columbia. This range contains notable volcanoes as well as a wide range of non-volcanic mountains and thousands of hiking and camping trips. We’ve decided to share a hike with you today in the Mt. Rainier National Park, in Washington State. A lesser known hike just 87 miles outside of Seattle, it’s completely worth the drive for those hiking for the scenery.
The hike we plan to share today is the Crystal Lakes hike. Crystal Lakes is just under a two hour drive from Seattle, making it less known simply because of the distance and time it takes to get there. It’s a 6 mile mountain walk with views of Mt. Rainier all along the switchbacks. During the spring the wildflowers will be in full bloom and snow will still be sprinkling the tips of the peaks. Don’t forget your camera and keep an eye out for mountain goats and elk as you make your way to the upper Crystal Lake.
Trailhead: You’ll start by crossing the cascading Crystal Creek on the log bridge. Then it’s time to get down to business as this trail wastes no time climbing. Wide and well-built, the trail commences in a series of short switchbacks but don’t despair, this moderate hike is doable for almost any level of hiker.
Distance: 6 miles roundtrip, taking you to both Crystal Lakes.
While Arizona might strike you as a hot, desolate desert, it’s actually more diverse than we give it credit for. There’s places in Arizona where the heat will seem to never end but drive north and you’ll find yourself at a Mountain resort filled with skiers. Then of course there’s Page with it’s stunning slot canyons and the Grand Canyon that’s simply unbeatable. However today we are going to be sharing our favorite place to get outside in Arizona : Sedona.
There are many hikes that you can do in Sedona, especially in the spring because the weather will be practically perfect every day. Our favorite is the Cookstove Trail. It’s a little known gem in Sedona, mostly because it’s an easily missed location as you cruise along the Oak Canyon drive. If you are headed out for the Cookstove trail, make sure you keep your maps up and a good look out for the minuscule trailhead sign. While difficult due to the steep elevation, this is a peaceful hike with stunning panoramic views of the entire Oak Creek Canyon.
Just remember to take plenty of water and take your time on the incline.
Difficulty: Hard due to the steep inclines & high elevation,
Distance: 1.4 miles round-trip. This short hike is steep and rises to high elevations but it’s doable for sure.
Trailhead: Milepost 387 on Hwy 89a (Oak Creek Canyon drive). Notice the parking area near the spring. The Spring is extremely popular so you will probably see other cars parked there.
Southern Utah is a HOT bed for hiking. With it’s Mighty 5 National Parks you never run out of exciting things to do in Southern Utah. What gets a bit forgotten is the diversity and beauty that the northern part of the state has to offer. The most popular hike for the ambitious Utahn is hiking Mount Timpanogos. What most don’t know is that there is another difficult yet extremely rewarding hike in Northern Utah that was less people are doing and that’s the hike to Lake Hardy.
The Lake Hardy hike takes you to a stunning lake that’s high in the Lone Peak Wilderness. It’s difficult but you’ll find that the isolated beauty is worth it in the end. As for unique hikes worth taking, Lake Hardy makes the top of the list. Pack well bringing plenty of water, your best hiking shoes and a picnic to reward yourself at the lake.
As always when hiking, remember to pack out everything that you’ve packed in to keep our national parks clean for the future generations.
Difficulty: Hard due to the steep inclines & high elevation
Distance: 11 miles round-trip
Location: To get there, take Highway 92 eastbound then turn north on Highway 74. Turn east on 200 North and go 2 blocks to 200 East. Turn left on Grove Drive and then turn left on Alpine Cove Drive. Continue north onto Aspen Drive. Go past the gates at the end of Aspen Drive and park near the Lehi City gate. Follow the jeep road about 1.5 miles to a large meadow area where the trail officially starts.
The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee - North Carolina
The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. They are a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, and form part of the Blue Ridge Physiographic Province. For those looking for day hikes and backpacking treks, there’s plenty to see and do in the Smoky Mountains. Today we are going to be taking you on a scenic journey to Balsam Mountain road.
Balsam Mountain Roads location off the Blue Ridge Parkway means that people usually tend to forget about this unique corner of the park. If you’re interested, this 24.3 miles, 2-3 day out-and-back hike is a great option for an entire weekend of solitude, however, if you just have one day, it’s still a great place to start exploring. Balsam Mountain road offers an escape into the deep and dark forests of oaks, firs and ferns as well as other moss-covered giants. You might even spot bigfoot while you’re out there. This hike has two shelters along the way, if you were interested in making the full 24.3 mile trek and some planning ahead is always required for those visits.
Distance: 24.3 Miles - if you are interested in the full route. Otherwise plenty of options to hike around and turn back when you’re ready.
Trailhead: Located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, keep an eye out and maps up for signs of the turnout or you’ll miss it.
The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts
The Berkshires is a rural region in the mountains of western Massachusetts. It’s a popular vacation destination, known for its outdoor activities. Another part of the U.S. offering plenty of hikes to choose from, we’ve chosen to share one that’s more off the beaten path.
In this article we are sharing the unique partial-loop hike up the sunny oak and sheep laurel slopes of the East Mountain. In our humble opinion, East Mountain offers the most stunning views of the granite mountain tops in the whole region. Located in Williamstown and Clarksburg, Massachusetts, this moderate hike is about 4.8 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1,340 feet. We recommend that you plan to spend at least 3 hours so bring water and snacks to accommodate.
Pine Cobble is a short hike to a quartzite limestone summit overlooking the Hoosic Valley and the Greylock Range. What makes Pine Cobble such a unique outing is its position within several mountain ranges within Massachusetts and Vermont.
Distance: 4.8 miles roundtip.
Trailhead: Go left out of the driveway on Cold Spring Rd. (Rt. 7) into town. Right on Main St. (Rt. 2 E) and left at the traffic light (Cole Ave.) At the end, turn R on No. Hoosac Rd. and go 0.4 m and turn L on Pine Cobble Rd. Then 0.2 m to trailhead on R. Park on L.
Black Hills National Forest in South Dakota
When it comes to travel, I think that the Midwest gets left out. A few years ago we would have never thought of heading into South Dakota for a big adventure but as we’ve widened our horizons and looked across the country for more unique travel, South Dakota seemed like a must! South Dakota is home to the famous Badlands National Park but today we want to share with you a must visit hike in the Black Hills National Forest.
Black Hills National Forest straddles the U.S. states of South Dakota and Wyoming. Our favorite hike in the Black Hills is the Crow Peak Trail. It’s a 7-mile round trip hike location in the northern parts of the park, near Spearfish. What we love about it is that once you reach the top, you are rewarded with views of the Black HIlls and the prairies to the east. You will also get a great view of Bear Butte. And of course, as you head back down, you have to make a stop at the brewery that shares a name with this peak.
Distance: 7 miles round trip
Trailhead: The trailhead is easy to spot as you cruise through the Black Hills National Forest. You’ll see the traditional National Forest signs and a clearly marked trail where you can start the hike.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in the vast Chihuahuan Desert of western Texas. It’s known for its bright-white Salt Basin Dunes, wildlife-rich grassland and fossilized reef mountains. With over 80 miles of hiking trails through various types of desert flora with various difficulties of trails from moderate walking paths to the hike to through the forest to the “Top if Texas”. This unique park has a lot to offer you, especially if you are looking for a unique hike to take this spring.
The hike that we want to talk to you about today is the Devil's Hall Trail. This 3.8 mile round trip hike is quite easy, not nearly as tough as the hike to the top of Texas. After about the first mile, hikers will find themselves on an impressive natural rock staircase leading to a hallway which is where the hike got i’s name.
Distance: 3.8 miles roundtrip
Trailhead: The Devil’s Hall Trail departs from the Pine Springs Trailhead.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio
Though it’s only a short distance from the urban areas of Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park seems worlds away. The park is a refuge for native plants and wildlife, and plenty for visitors to discover. The winding Cuyahoga River gives way to deep forests, rolling hills, and open farmlands. Walk or ride the Towpath Trail to follow the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.
For the purposes of this article we want to take you deep into the park to a fascinating beaver marsh. You can trek here to see the hard work of local beavers who’ve made their dams with the mud and sticks of the area. To see these critters at work, your best bet is to hang around during the early evening. (Remember when you are visiting the homes of any wildlife critters it is so important not to interact with the animals. Please don’t feed the animals or destroy their homes in any way. You are a visitor in their habitat.)
The Tree Farm Trail is a 2.75-mile loop that starts and ends at Horseshoe Pond. Here, you’ll hike rolling hills and see evergreens, hardwoods and a local family’s Christmas tree farm. Chances are you’ll spot deer, fox, coyotes and birds, including bald eagles, woodpeckers and yellow warblers, on this moderately difficult but extremely unique hike.
Distance: 2.75 miles round trip
Trailhead: Starting at the Horseshoe Pond.
Blood Mountain, Georgia
Blood Mountain is the tallest peak within Georgia’s stretch of the Appalachian Trail. It offers stunning summit views and can be one of the more popular hiking destinations in the region. Don’t let that stop you, there’s more to Blood Mountain than the often-hiked route from the Neels Gap to the 4,459-foot summit.
The hike we want to share with you today is the Byron Reece Trail. Enjoy the mild warm up as very soon you begin your climb up the hill to where The Byron Reece meets the Appalachian Trail at Flat Rock Gap. Turn right at this junction, following the white blazes, and settle in for the long climb to the top. Don’t let the little hill intimidate you. The scenery is amazing as the trail continues to wind up through the big rock formations and dense wood. You’ll be sweaty by the time you reach the top but the sweet mountain air and quiet of the hills is worth the journey.
Distance: 4.3 Miles Roundtrip
Trailhead: The hike starts at the Byron Reece trailhead at Neels Gap. As Neels Gap is an extremely popular hike, the trailhead is easy to find and well marked.
Schoodic Mountain, Sullivan, Maine
The Schoodic Mountain is 1,069 feet tall with a bald summit that offers a panoramic view of the mountains of Acadia National Park, nearby ponds and lakes and of course, the Atlantic Ocean. The mountain trail is 1.3 miles one way and takes you through mossy woods that are scattered with boulders. You’ll find yourself crossing several streams before beginning your climb to the summit.
Distance: Moderate. The Schoodic Mountain Trail (from the parking lot to Schoodic Mountain summit) is 1.3 miles one way. The Schoodic Beach Trail is 0.5 mile from the parking lot to the beach, and then 1 mile from the beach to the mountain summit.
Trailhead: From US Route 1 in Sullivan, turn onto ME Route 183 (Tunk Lake Road) and proceed about 4.5 miles. Take a left onto the gravel Schoodic Beach Road (it is marked by a Donnell Pond Public Lands sign). Follow the Schoodic Beach Road for 2.3 miles to the end, where there is a parking area. Driving into the parking lot, the trailhead to the Schoodic Mountain Summit trail is on the left. The trailhead for Schoodic Beach Trail is at the far end of the parking lot by the kiosk.
If you are new to hiking or unsure of what to bring and where to begin, we found the perfect resource for you. Renee Hanel spent a year traveling around the U.S. with her husband visiting all of our National Parks. In this guide she shares all of her beginning tips to hiking. From what snacks to bring to hiking solo v.s with a friend, she shares her secrets to hiking.