Extraordinary scenery, adventure and history make these hiking destinations worth traveling to.
Take to the trail this fall for fresh air, adventure and gorgeous foliage.
Here are five places for all levels — from families to outdoorspeople — to take a trail hike.
Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, West Glacier, Mont.
Within 4.5 miles you will witness some of the most extraordinary scenery the national park system has to offer. Expect rushing creeks and towering cedar and hemlock trees, leading to a pristine lake with waterfalls as a backdrop. Take time for a snack or picnic lunch and soak in the stunning views.
The trail launches from the wheelchair and stroller accessible Trail of the Cedars one-mile loop. Stay in nearby Whitefish where lake activities, restaurants, farmers markets and golf add to your vacation experience.
Resources: explorewhitefish.com; hiddenmooselodge.com; firebrandhotel.com; nps.gov/glac
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, Washington, D.C.
Take a break from hiking between museums and galleries and stretch your legs on a historic and scenic path just 20 minutes from the capital. The trail begins at the Old Angler’s Inn and follows the canal towpath for 2.3 miles to the Great Falls Tavern, passing old locks along the way.
The outing provides an opportunity to discuss the way locks once lifted boats 600 feet during the years — from the 1830s until 1924 — it was in use. The canals provided a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River.
In the same area, consider The Billy Goat Trail, a 4-mile loop hike.
Resources: trailink.com; nps.gov/choh/index.htm
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Kanab, Utah
To claim your favorite section of this stunning terrain, visit the 1.7 million-acre national monument known for winding slot canyons, mesas, roughly carved buttes and the “crookedest river in the world.” Established in 1996, the national monument includes the Canyons of the Escalante, carved by the area’s namesake river and its tributaries, and serves up numerous popular hikes.
Families like to visit during the dry months to hike and wade the river. During wetter months, plop in a tube or kayak your way through the scenic landscape.
The Devil’s Garden, considered “easy” and located 12 miles south of town, provides another family-friendly option.
Resources: utah.com; nps.gov/glca/planyourvisit/escalante.htm
State Forest State Park, Walden, Colo.
Sprawled along the west side of the Medicine Bow Mountains and reaching into the Never Summer Range, travelers will find 71,000 acres of alpine lakes, forest and plenty of hiking trails in this expansive state park, plus more than 600 resident moose. Expand your knowledge of these compelling creatures in the educational visitors center.
Ask about the local geocaching possibilities and the possibility to spend the night in one of several yurts in the park.
Resources: cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/stateforest; colorado.com.
Nurture the wonder of discovery early. A slow stroll around your own block can be an adventure for the littlest explorers. Note colorful gardens, rugged tree bark, tiny bugs and birds overhead. Feel the breeze, comment on the sweet smell of neighbors barbecuing or the scent of freshly cut grass. As time passes, expand your circle and encourage your little ones to share their own observations.