5 hiking trails worth centering a vacation around.

Share story

Taking to the trails with the whole family is a great way to introduce youngsters to the benefits of fresh air and the natural world.

Here are five hikes to enjoy together:

Roscoe, Montana

For extraordinary beauty, including pristine mountain lakes, tumbling waterfalls and lush wildflowers, spend time on the East Rosebud Trail in Montana’s Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness. The full length of the 26-mile trail (also known as The Beaten Path) runs through the heart of this magnificent region, from East Rosebud Lake to Cooke City, near the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Wander up the trail for a few hours or plan an epic, weeklong, backpacking adventure. mthikes.com; visitmt.com

Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, Colorado

Combine a rugged road trip with the chance to immerse yourselves in nature’s bounty during short hikes amidst tufted hair grass, bluebells, and alpine timothy in some of Colorado’s most scenic landscapes. During your 65-mile four-wheel drive adventure, marvel at the high altitude beauty of the treeless tundra, craggy mountain views and 12,000-foot peaks. The backcountry route passes through numerous ghost towns as well as Ouray, Silverton and Lake City. Be prepared for sudden changes of weather and cool temperatures. colorado.com.

Ely, Minnesota

The full length of the Kekekabic Trail, or the Kek as it is known to local hikers, winds almost 40 miles from Snowbank Road, east of Ely, through the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness to the famed Gunflint Trail, west of Grand Marais. Take on a slice of this this wild trail to experience rocky outcroppings, pristine lakes, scenic bluffs and eagles soaring overhead. Listen for the rich yodeling of resident loons in the distance. exploreminnesota.com.

Smoky Mountain National Park, Tennessee

A three-mile round-trip hike takes you to Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (Thinkstock)
A three-mile round-trip hike takes you to Grotto Falls in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. (Thinkstock)

The cool mist from Grotto Falls is a welcome greeting for hikers who venture down the scenic path on a warm summer day. The trail actually provides access behind the 25 feet of falling water where salamanders scamper about to the delight of trekkers. The three-mile round trip takes you through an old growth hemlock forest. Caution is advised on slippery rocks near the waterfall.

Grand County, Colorado

Lace up your hiking boots and choose from hundreds of trails throughout Winter Park and the surrounding valley. The Monarch Lake Loop Trail in the Arapaho National Recreation Area is an easy, four-mile outing that begins at an old cabin and promises fantastic views and the occasional moose sighting. Consider the half-mile excursion to see the waterfall via the Adams Falls East Inlet Trail. Located inside Rocky Mountain National Park, it’s ideal for all abilities and ages, but note that pets are not permitted. visitgrandcounty.com.