There are close to 50 million regular hikers in the U.S. according to the most recent data provided by Statista. That’s a lot of miles being walked each year, not to mention a lot of wear and tear on hiking shoes. The Forest Service reports more than 165 million visitors to National Forests and that more than 40% of visitors hike or walk on forest trails. Of course, not all hiking trails are created equally, perhaps the most famous being the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy describes the Appalachian Trail as the longest hiking-only trail in the world. More than two million people are said to take a hike on part of the trail at least once each year.
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Wildwood Trail, Forest Park, Portland, Oregon
With 70 miles of trails, aptly named Forest Park is a popular escape for runners, equestrians and hikers alike, and leashed dogs are even allowed to enjoy its splendor. Located in the city’s northwest corner, this conservancy covers 5,156 acres featuring 62 mammal species and acting as a natural air purifier. Wildwood Trail is a favorite hiking route of 30 miles spanning the entire length of Forest Park and connecting to some of the city’s top attractions
Croton Dam, Westchester County, New York
Located on the 97 acre property of Croton Gorge Park, the magnificent Croton Dam is the first thing that visitors notice as they enter from the main road. Croton Gorge Park is a popular spot for fishing, picnicking and hiking, with direct trail access to New York State’s Old Croton Aqueduct. The road on top of the dam wall, as well as the bridge over the gorge, is open to pedestrians and bicyclists, offering spectacular views of the Lower Hudson Valley. It remains the third largest hand-hewn masonry structure in the world, behind the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China.
Camelback Mountain, Scottsdale, Arizona
Looking for a hike that will test your climbing skills? Located just 20 minutes from downtown Phoenix, Camelback Mountain is one of Phoenix’s best hikes and most popular attractions for thousands of visiting hikers each year. Two difficult trails ascend 1,420 feet to a summit resembling the hump of a camel’s back, affording 360-degree views of the surrounding city. Both Cholla Trail (currently closed) and Echo Canyon Trail are rated extremely difficult, challenging hikers with exposed rock, strenuous climbs and sections of hand-over-hand climbing. Echo Canyon Trail is steep and rocky ascent requires assistance of handrails and climbing to reach the top, but the 360-degree views from the summit are worth it.
Greenfield Lake Park, Wilmington, North Carolina
The great outdoors are closer than you think in North Carolina cities. where busy streets meet scenic trails. As you’re planning summer stories, and more travelers are looking for outdoor activities. Wilmington: At 250-acre Greenfield Lake Park, more than four miles of trails encircle the namesake basin amid century-old cypress trees and longleaf pines. Hikers find a sunken garden, fragrance garden and paddle options, which improve the odds of spotting an alligator. Raleigh: Art gets star billing at N.C. Museum of Art’s 164-acre park, where trails lead from a walk-in camera obscura and a wind-driven whirligig to picnic lawns, gardens and a terraced pond. Charlotte: Spanning 98 acres between historic neighborhoods and Center City, Freedom Park attracts urban hikers to the loop around its seven-acre lake and the Discovery Place Nature museum.
Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco, California
Nestled within the 75,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Cavallo Point offers over 350-acres to explore just steps from the hotel. Chapel Steps to Bay Trail: Simple and serene with picturesque views of the Golden Gate Bridge and Bay (2 miles), Battery Spencer Trail: Under the Golden Gate Bridge and up to the former coastal battery (3 miles), Coastal Trail to SCA Trail: Through California’s Golden Poppies and into the Marin Headlands with views of the city and Bay (3 miles), Kirby Cove Trail: Reveals a pristine beach at the foot of the Marin Headlands west of the Golden Gate Bridge, (4.5 miles), Slacker Ridge: Connects to the peak of the Coastal Trail, with panoramic views of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean (4.5 miles), Rodeo Valley Trail to Bobcat Trail: Dips into the tranquil valley where runners can find Red Tail Hawks and Mission Blue Butterlies alongside views of the valley, Rodeo Beach and the Pacific Ocean (10 miles).
Dinosaur National Monument, Jensen, Utah
Travel back in time by hiking the Dinosaur National Monument’s amazing geology and rock art, with several easy trails for day hikes to suit just about everyone. The famous Fossil Discovery Trail is 1.2 miles that take you through geologic formations representing 80 million years of time. There is also the Sound of Silence Trail with 2.5 miles through several of the monument’s rock layers with good views of Split Mountain. The Watchman is a 3.3 mile round-trip hike with moderate drop-offs. End at the viewpoint of the Temples and Towers, lower Zion Canyon, Watchman Peak and Springdale. The trailhead is located near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center, across the street from the shuttle stop.
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