Seeing majestic mountains, vast canyons, lush forests and beautiful waterfalls isn’t only for the experienced hiker. The outdoors can be explored and enjoyed at any fitness level! This list of hiking trails for beginners is for anyone looking to get into hiking.
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Immersing yourself in nature while hiking through tall trees, mountainous terrain, desert landscapes or water-front trials sounds fantastic, right? Well it sounds great because it is great!
Hiking has many health benefits, according to WebMD. Hiking can reduce your blood pressure, strengthen your core, improve balance – not to mention the mental health benefits!
And the even better news is that as long as you can walk on an uneven surface, you can hike!
Hiking trails for beginners
Whether you’re looking for an easy trail near you or beginner hiking trips, this list has a perfect spot just for you!
And since I haven’t been everywhere in the US yet, I called in some blogger friends to help. We’ve all personally done these hikes so we know you’ll love these trails!
Beginner hiking trails in the USA – map
Get ready for some amazing views on some easy trails! Use this map as a guide to plan a hiking vacation or find a trail near you.
Hiking tips for beginners
As someone who wasn’t super confident when I first started hiking, I understand it can be intimidating to get started. But confidence grows with each hike – no matter how short or small it may be.
If you’re new to hiking, definitely start small. Short day hikes are all you need. All of the trails on this list are perfect for hiking beginners.
Before we get into the list, check out what to pack for a day hike. The guide will walk you through how to be prepared.
Also be sure to research each destination more thoroughly. Use the list below for inspiration and then as you’re planning the hike, determine what you’ll need based on weather and trail conditions.
Hiking beginners will love these USA trails with scenic views
Gah! I’m so excited for you to see these sights from all across the United States! Let’s dive in.
Quick note: each photo is attributed to the corresponding blogger/hiker.
1. Twin Falls Trail, North Bend, Washington
One of the best-known hikes in Washington State is the stunningly gorgeous waterfall called Twin Falls. This waterfall is labeled as easy and is 2.6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 500 ft.
It’s the go-to waterfall hike for Seattleites since it is only 45 minutes from the city, located in the small town of North Bend, Washington.
Twin Falls trail is a great hike because it features a gushing bright green river next to the hike, with mossy green trees. Everyone usually stops every few minutes to take in the beauty of the trees and the flowing river.
About halfway through the hike, there is an area where there are benches, and you can see Twin Falls from a distance. It’s really the perfect beginner hiking trail. Keep on going if you want even better views! Eventually, there is a platform with stairs where you will get up and front views of the stunning Twin Falls.
The waterfall is around 200′ and is one of the most popular easy hikes in Washington for a reason. It’s absolutely marvelous.
Other popular hikes in the area include Mailbox Peak, Little Si, and Big Si. Twin Falls is the best easy hike to do in the area and can be done all year round.
Recommended by Michelle of The Wandering Queen
2. Mossy Cave Trail near Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Hiking beginners visiting South Utah should look out for Mossy Cave Trail, a very easy one mile out-and-back type trail located outside of Bryce Canyon National Park. This hike features the best of Bryce Canyon without the price tag or skilled hiking proficiency.
The trail has a mild elevation gain of only 120 feet and follows a stream through a canyon. It’s very easy to access all points of the water, which makes this hike great for kids and anyone looking to escape the desert heat.
The culmination of the trails brings you to a beautiful waterfall that is surrounded by the classic hoodoo geologic formations that Bryce Canyon is so well known for. The waterfall is also a great spot for swimming and cooling off in the heat.
Alternatively at the end of the trail, there is a path that forks to the left to see the Mossy Cave, for which the trail is named after. It’s a natural water source so you can often see ferns growing nearby and in the winter frozen icicles!
To avoid the crowds, visit in the morning or during sunset. Bring a bathing suit if you plan to play in the water. A final tip is to make sure you fuel up on gas at the nearest gas station as there are no other gas stations for miles around.
Nearby, make sure you explore Bryce Canyon and its highlights including Inspiration Point and the Natural Bridge, and if you have time, Zion National Park is only an hour and a half drive away!
Recommended by Alanna of Periodic Adventures
3. Baring Falls Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
One of the easiest hiking trails for beginners that’s also stunning is the trail to Baring Falls in Glacier National Park. Parking near Sun Point, the trail is 2.4 miles round trip on mostly flat terrain. With spectacular views of Saint Mary Lake, it’s a must-do in this gorgeous national park.
Of all the Glacier National Park Hikes, this one is perfect for nearly all skill levels, including kids. Continuing the path just after the falls will take you to the lake. In the summer months, it’s a great way to cool down by dipping your toes in the water.
The best time to visit Glacier National Park is summer. Because of it’s northern location and high altitude, the snow doesn’t typically melt until July. Mid-July through September is the greatest chance of the park being fully opened.
Note: bear spray is a must in Glacier National Park!
To avoid the park crowds, plan to get to the park early and visit during the week. With so many things to do in Glacier National Park, this is surely one unforgettable destination!
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
4. Lands End Trail, San Francisco, California
San Francisco conjures up images of long lines for trendy coffee, trolley cars cruising hilly streets and busy techies hustling to work. It may not seem like the destination for a relaxing, scenic hike, but that could not be further from the truth!
When looking to get away from the San Francisco frenzy, locals know to head to the Lands End Trail.
Located on the western edge of San Francisco, the Lands End Trail is a 3.4 mile loop boasting spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and Golden Gate Bridge. With a mere 538 feet elevation gain, an easy-to-follow path, and plenty of fellow hikers around the entire way, this trail is perfect for even the most novice of hikers.
Find the trailhead just north of the Sutro Baths parking lot. Then, head west and stay on the path, stopping for Instagram photos at Lands End Labyrinth before continuing until just beyond Eagle’s Point, where an end-of-trail sign is located.
From here, walk back the same way you came or take the inner path to complete the entire loop. After completing the hike, take some time to enjoy nearby attractions like the Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach, or a meal with an ocean view at The Bistro at Cliff House.
For the best chance at perfect weather, visit Lands End in either September or October. But with San Francisco’s mild climate, hiking Lands End Trail is the perfect way to switch things up in your San Francisco itinerary no matter the time of year.
Recommended by Em of That Travelista
5. River Trail, Great Falls Park, Virginia
An easy hike on the River Trail is one of the best ways to enjoy Great Falls Park in Virginia. The trail offers spectacular views of the waterfalls and dramatic gorge that make Great Falls one of the most popular parks near Washington DC.
Hikers follow a mostly level, dirt trail along the banks of the Potomac River and the cliffs of Mather Gorge. Connecting trails make it easy to create loop hikes of varying lengths and difficulties.
Begin your hike at the Great Falls Visitor Center and visit the 3 overlooks that provide different views of the “great falls of the Potomac.” Then continue onto the blue-blazed River Trail.
The dirt trail is mostly level with rocky areas that add a little challenge for kids. Stop at the Mather Gorge Overlook to see the Potomac squeezing through this narrow chasm.
Return on the Patowmack Canal Trail for a 1.6-mile loop hike with less than 30 feet of elevation gain. On the return hike, you can see the remains of a canal system championed by George Washington. Alternatively, continue on the River Trail for longer return loops on the Mathildaville or Old Carriage Road Trails (adds 2-3 miles, 400 feet elevation).
The River Trail is part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. You can hike more of it at Riverbend Park and Scotts Run Preserve. Great Falls Park is just 18 miles west of Washington DC.
Recommended by Julie of Fun in Fairfax VA
6. Perkins Central Garden Trail, Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Located about 1 hour and 20 minutes south of Denver, Garden of the Gods is a perfect spot if you are looking for easy hiking and stunning scenery. Bright sandstone formations against the backdrop of the snow-capped Pikes Peak create a picturesque backdrop.
Many of the trails within Garden of the Gods are paved and relatively flat which means you can enjoy them even if you are not an experienced hiker. If you are visiting for the first time, make sure to check out Perkins Central Garden Trail. It’s an easy 1.5 mile walkway that will take you through the center of the park where you can observe the gorgeous red rock formations.
The scenery of this place is second to none! Garden of the Gods is called one of the most beautiful places in Colorado and many visitors from across the country come to see the amazing red rock formations. Hiking beginners will love this unique destination.
Designated as a National Natural Landmark, the Garden of the Gods offers a free entrance. Be sure to arrive early, as this place gets busy quickly, especially on weekends. The nearest town to Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs offers plenty of amenities, including hotels and restaurants.
Recommended by Daria of The Discovery Nut
7. Mermaid’s Chair Hike, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Need a break from beach-hopping your way around the US Virgin Islands? Tucked away on the westernmost corner of the island of St. Thomas lies the easy hike to Mermaid’s Chair. It’s one of the best hiking trails for beginners because the ocean scenery is so beautiful.
Just a short drive away from the main city of Charlotte Amalie, the 3.6 mile out-and-back hike with an 816-foot elevation change leads you down to Mermaid’s Chair – a thin strip of land that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the Caribbean Sea.
Mermaid’s Chair is an ideal hike for sunset-chasers and photographers any time of the year. Since it is a tropical hike, you should remember to wear reef-safe sunscreen, bring plenty of water, and keep in mind that rip tides and currents make the water dangerous for swimming.
The trailhead for Mermaid’s Chair is unique, and begins with the security gate at the Preserve at Botany Bay residences. Park your vehicle just outside the gated community and check in with the guard, where you’ll receive a map and directions to Mermaid’s Chair.
The first part of the hike takes you through the community to the seaside, passing luxury homes with views of the ocean peeking through the lush vegetation. You will mostly be hiking on a paved road at an incline, so wear slip-resistant shoes and avoid flip-flops.
As you reach Mermaid’s Chair, make sure to keep your eyes peeled for pirates and mermaids – adventure and magic lurks around every corner. Make sure to bring a camera!
Recommended by Rachelle of Adventure is Never Far Away
8. Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona
Magnificent Horseshoe Bend in Arizona is one of the most spectacular and most photographed places in the USA. While Horseshoe Bend hike is one of the most rewarding hikes in the USA, funnily enough, it is one of the easiest hikes too.
The not demanding Horseshoe Bend Trail goes from Horseshoe Bend parking lot to Horseshoe Bend overlook. The trail is only a 0.75-mile long one-way hike, mainly flat and with a climb less than 150′. Fairly easy round-trail can be done in about an hour. That makes it one of the best beginner hiking trails!
The trail is sandy with no shade along the way. And while you don’t need to be especially fit to reach amazing views of the Horseshoe Bend overlook, make sure to take water with you if you hike in summer since temperatures in Arizona can go extremely high.
Sensational Horseshoe Bend is located near the town of Page in Arizona. Beautiful Arizona is a year-round destination and Horseshoe Bend can be visited 24 hours a day all year round.
Be aware, awe-inspiring Horseshoe Bend is most visited during major US holidays and the crowdest time is between 9-11 am (before the heat of the day) and between 4.30–6.30 pm (for breathtaking sunsets).
There’s no entrance fee for hiking Horseshoe Bend. But if you are coming by car or a motorbike, the parking fee is $10 or $5 respectively.
Recommended by Milijana of World Travel Connector
9. Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Trail, Naples, Florida
You don’t have to be a seasoned trekker to enjoy a day in the Audubon Corkscrew Sanctuary Swamp, one of the best hiking and walking trails in Naples Florida.
Located in Florida’s western Everglades, the Sanctuary is an easy 30 minute drive from Naples, and has a 2.5 mile long flat boardwalk that winds through a marshy area ending in the largest old growth Bald Cypress forest in North America.
Through Audubon’s conservation efforts, this scenic subtropical area remains a haven for alligators, deer, turtles, songbirds, and an amazing variety of wading birds like herons and egrets. The flora changes along the boardwalk from one ecosystem to the next, and along with that so does the wildlife and birds.
The hike should take about 2-3 hours but the primordial experience of walking through this preserved natural world will last a lifetime.
It’s important to bring water, eco-friendly sunscreen, insect repellent, a camera, light snacks, and binoculars if you have them. And be sure and wear good walking shoes.
Hiking in Naples is fun year round, but when you visit depends on how you like the weather. The dry season in winter brings comfortable temperatures and low humidity, but also lowers the water level causing many species of birds to migrate elsewhere. While the wet season is generally hotter with much higher humidity, wildlife is much more abundant and the vegetation becomes green and lush.
Recommended by Lori of Naples Florida Travel Guide
10. East Observatory Trail, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California
A hike in Griffith Park is one of the best things to do in Los Angeles and is a must for any visitor. With a fascinating history dating back to the 1880’s it may be worth joining up with a guided hike to hear about the ways the nearly over 1700 hectares has been utilised.
Griffith Park is the largest in Los Angeles and has more than 80 trails to choose from. The highest point in the park is Mount Hollywood, location of the iconic Hollywood sign, at 1625 feet, but many of the trails offer views of the sign along the path from much lower vantage points as they wind around the mountain slopes.
Starting at the Greek Theatre within the park, a perfectly timed afternoon hike to Griffith Observatory offers views of the sun sinking over the city of angels from the Observatory balcony.
At an elevation of 383 feet hikers can arrive via the direct route along the fire road in about 30 minutes, or extend their hike by exploring some of the other trails. A little under a third of the elevation is tackled in the first quarter mile so it may initially seem harder than it really is. It’s one of the best hiking trails for beginners in all of California.
It’s worth a stroll around the Observatory grounds to check out some of the iconic scenes featured in Hollywood blockbusters such as La La Land before checking out the exhibits within. On weekends the Observatory Shuttle runs back down to the Greek Theatre.
Recommended by Holly from Globeblogging
Best places to hike in the USA – beginner hiking trails
With places all over the US, I’m really hoping you’ll find an easy trail near you on this list. And many of us bloggers aren’t shy to take vacations to the best sights, too. I’m trusting this list of beginner hiking trips can be a source of inspiration for you, too!
Let’s keep going…
11. Coyote Valley Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
If you’re looking for ideas for beginner hiking trips, then Rocky Mountain National Park must be on your list! One of the most impressive mountain regions in the United States, the Colorado Rockies offer endless entertainment and outdoor recreation.
The Coyote Valley Trail on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park is such an easy trail, it’s almost considered a nature walk! It will give you a taste of hiking in the mountains with wide open views, wildlife sightings and the gentle water flowing in the stream along the path.
Most of the trail is paved and completely accessible for anyone wanting to spend some time in nature. With benches along the way, it’s the perfect hike for young kids or seniors just wishing to soak in nature.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take the dirt path 1/2 mile beyond the end of the paved trail for even more beautiful sights of this national park. The best time to visit this trail is spring through fall, though snowy views of Rocky Mountain National Park are phenomenal, too.
Access the Coyote Valley Trail just 5 miles north of the Kawuneeche Visitor Center near Grand Lake, Colorado. Whether this is part of a Colorado road trip, summer vacation or kid-friendly getaway, this is one of the best hiking trails for beginners in all of Colorado.
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
12. Quabbin Reservoir Gate 11 Hike, Massachusetts
If you are looking for an easy hike in the largest wilderness area in Massachusetts, then the Quabbin Reservoir will provide it. The Quabbin Reservoir, with its 56,000 acres of protected watershed, provides drinking water to 40% of Massachusetts residents.
This pristine area is often called an “accidental wilderness” as 4 towns were moved to flood the reservoir and create the protected land around it. Wildlife such as moose, deer, coyotes, bobcats, wild turkeys, and bald eagles inhabit the Quabbin.
The Quabbin Reservoir Gate 11 hike is one of the excellent recreation trails in the watershed. The trailhead is on Route 202 near Pelham. The 5-mile out and back hike is a gentle stroll down to the reservoir. Along the trail are stone foundation remains of houses that were moved to create the reservoir.
The trail ends with views of the islands and coves on the huge reservoir. To guard the water’s purity, dogs and swimming in the lake are not allowed. There are many other easy hikes in the Quabbin area as well as paddling and biking outdoor activities in the nearby Connecticut River Valley.
History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Pelham Old Meeting House across the road from the trailhead. It’s the oldest town hall in continuous use in the nation. In addition, the Emily Dickinson Museum is in nearby Amherst. You can visit the house where poet Emily Dickinson lived her whole life.
Recommended by Karen of Outdoor Adventure Sampler
13. Sabino Lake Loop Trail, Tucson, Arizona
Get an up-close view of desert life at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area in Arizona. From soaring mountains and deep canyons to the magnificent Sonoran Desert landscape, the canyon is a truly special place.
While there are miles of Sabino Canyon trails to choose from, the Sabino Lake Loop Trail is a good introduction. The path leads to a seasonal lake and offers spectacular views of the canyon.
At 2.3 miles in length with 144 feet of elevation gain, the Sabino Lake Loop is an easy trail that is good for most skill levels, making it one of the best beginner hiking trails. The path starts at the Visitors Center and heads east to the Sabino Dam before looping back again along a series of trails.
A map is recommended as there are quite a few trails in Sabino Canyon and it’s easy to take the wrong one. Hikers should also be prepared for desert conditions and bring plenty of water, sunscreen, a broad sun hat and sturdy hiking shoes.
Located only minutes away from Tucson, Sabino Canyon is easy to access and is popular with residents of the city. Tucson abounds with opportunities for outdoors enthusiasts, including Saguaro National Park, Tucson Mountain Park and Catalina State Park.
Due to its desert climate, the best time to hike in Tucson is from September to April. Visitors should avoid hiking in the summer months unless at evening or early morning. There is an $8 fee to park at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area.
Recommended by Katy of A Rambling Unicorn
14. Hurricane Hill Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
One of the best, easy hikes in the USA is Hurricane Hill. It’s a beautiful 3.1-mile trail in Olympic National Park that offers incredible views for little effort. The trail gains 650 feet gradually and has interpretive signs pointing to nearby mountains and providing history about the area.
Hurricane Hill’s summit offers stunning views of the Bailey Range, Port Angeles, and Vancouver Island. It’s also the perfect place to watch the sunrise or sunset. Hurricane Hill is very exposed, so you should pack layers and a windbreaker since the weather and wind can change quickly!
The Hurricane Hill trailhead is on Hurricane Ridge, which is reached by driving along the 18-mile Hurricane Ridge Road. When the parking lot becomes busy, the park will stop traffic, so the best time to visit is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Hurricane Ridge Road is open throughout the summer and Friday through Sunday in the winter, allowing you to hike Hurricane Hill year-round!
One of the best things about Hurricane Hill is it is near many other beautiful attractions. You can explore the shores of Lake Crescent or hike to Mount Storm King and Marymere Falls. It really is perfect for hiking beginners!
The city of Port Angeles is also nearby if you want to find a place to stay or grab a bite to eat. Hurricane Hill is one of the best, easy hikes in the USA that should be on every Olympic National Park bucket list!
Recommended by Nichole of Nichole the Nomad
15. Grotto Falls Hike, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Grotto Falls is one of many beautiful waterfalls in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in eastern TN and western NC. It’s the perfect activity for visitors to the park who are looking for an easy hike to mix in with driving destinations like Cade’s Cove and Clingman’s Dome.
There are multiple ways to access the falls but for the easiest route, start at the Trillium Gap trailhead located near Gatlinburg, TN. At 2.5 miles roundtrip and around 500 feet elevation gain, this trail is perfect for families or inexperienced hikers! It’s one of the best, easy hikes in smoky mountain national park.
This trailhead is only available during spring, summer, and fall so check ahead of time to make sure you can access it! Visitors won’t have cell service in most of the park so be sure to bring a paper map and/or download one ahead of time that you can access via GPS on your phone.
Prepare for a few shallow creek crossings and beautiful, winding scenery surrounded by lush waterfalls and trees before you reach the waterfall that you can walk behind! Grotto Falls Smoky Mountains is one of the best trails in the entire park.
Other things to do in the area:
- Drive the entire Roaring Fork Motor Trail for beautiful scenery and historic buildings.
- Check out the Sugarlands Visitor Center for park history, maps, and a gift shop.
- Head into nearby Gatlinburg and explore the tourist friendly museums and attractions.
Recommended by Stephanie of Explore More Clean Less
16. Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
Hiking for beginners 101 – go to Kauai, Hawaii! No kidding.
The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail along Kauai’s southern coast will turn any beach lover to a hiker. The trail is relatively flat and offers ocean views during nearly the entire hike.
It’s a 3.4 mile hike roundtrip from Shipwreck Beach along the coast, although it’s easy to stop around the 1/2 way point, as the first half is the most interesting. This hike doesn’t require excessive gear unlike hiking the Waimea Canyon or the Kalalau Trail. In fact, supportive water shoes are recommended instead of athletic shoes or hiking shoes, so enjoying the beach before and after is easy.
The Mahaulepu Heritage Trail can lead you all the way to the Mahaulepu Beach, although with limited services at the beach and none along the trail, most people tend to stay closer to Shipwreck Beach.
Pro tip: Be sure to hike up the cliff from Shipwreck Beach to get a beautiful view of the beach and coast. Bring plenty of reef-safe sunscreen and sun hat, too. The sun in Hawaii is very strong!
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
17. Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California
Sequoia trees are the biggest trees on earth and the largest of them all are in Sequoia National Park. The trails in Sequoia National Park are perfect beginner hiking trails!
Congress Trail is just 2 miles with an elevation gain of just 230 feet, though the trail starts at the General Sherman Tree which is the largest tree in the world! Reaching the General Sherman Tree does require another one-mile trail.
Many of the major sequoia trees have been given names of political or historic figures. The Congress Trail passes 2 small groves called The House and The Senate – hence the name of the trail.
You will also see the President Tree, the fourth largest tree in the world, among others. The trail has slight ups and downs only, and the path is paved or very smooth gravel, so it’s easy to walk. You can even take a stroller if you have kids.
The best time of year to do this hike is June to August. Although this is the busiest time of year, this is when the weather is most reliable. The nearest town is Three Rivers, just outside the park’s southern entrance.
There are plenty of other things to do in Sequoia and the adjacent Kings Canyon National Park. Drive the Generals Highway, which is one of the most scenic drives in the United States. Stop off at the various viewpoints along the way and end at the General Grant Tree (the world’s second largest tree) then continue to see Kings Canyon.
In Sequoia National Park, visit the Giant Forest Museum to learn all about these amazing trees.
There are plenty of other hikes to do too, including climbing the stairs to the top of Moro Rock, or strolling around Round Meadow on the Big Trees Trail. Go in the late afternoon to see black bears foraging on the meadow. (Don’t forget the bear spray in Sequoia National Park!)
Recommended by James of Parks Collecting
18. The Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro State Park, Amarillo, Texas
Hiking beginners looking for the perfect easy hike in the USA with the most magical views, add The Lighthouse Trail to your bucket list! Located in Palo Duro State Park near Amarillo, it’s a true hidden gem in West Texas.
After driving through the miles of flat land in Texas, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the second largest canyon in the United States. The Lighthouse Trail is easy to find and located at the bottom of the canyon.
There’s a large parking lot and facilities at the trailhead. The trail itself is about 6 miles long with a 521-foot elevation gain. It’s easy and flat until you reach the lighthouse. At this point, you can scramble up the rock to walk across the lighthouse.
Pack a picnic, bring your pup and enjoy the view at the top! Even if you choose to not climb up to the top, you will still be met with amazing views! It will be hard to believe that you are still in Texas!
If you’re looking for more adventures, you can zipline through the canyon, horseback ride among the red rocks, stop at the nearby Caprock Canyon State Park or marvel at the unique Cadillac Ranch roadside attraction. You may never want to leave!
Recommended by Jordan of The Homebody Tourist
19. Hanging Rock Trail, Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury, North Carolina
Hanging Rock trail is located in Danbury, North Carolina at Hanging Rock State Park. This is a 2.4 mile heavily trafficked trail. With an elevation gain of 603 feet, it’s one of the best hiking trails for beginners.
The trail begins at the edge of the visitor’s center parking lot on a paved path. The path gradually turns to dirt and gravel then eventually rock while gaining elevation.
There are many scenic views and rock formations to enjoy on the way up. On average it takes about an hour for hikers to get to the top where they can enjoy amazing views and rest or eat lunch before making their way down.
This trail is dog-friendly but dogs must be kept on leash. Be sure to take extra precautions at the top since it’s rocky and steep. A heavy-duty carabiner clip can be used for securing dogs to a tree (via leash) to ensure they are safe from the steep edges while enjoying the views.
Since this is a heavily trafficked trail, going early in the morning is best. Fall and winter are the best seasons to go to avoid crowds and bugs.
Hanging Rock State Park has a 5 peaks challenge if you’re looking for something more challenging. There are many other hikes as well as gorgeous falls to enjoy. Just 20 minutes from Hanging Rock State Park is Pilot Mountain State Park with tons of wonderful hiking trails.
Recommended by Hailey of Diary of a Wanna Be World Traveler
20. Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
While almost anyone will tell you to do the Angels Landing hike in Zion National Park, you can get a view that is just as rewarding with way less work on the Canyon Overlook Trail!
This trail is on the east side of the park, but Springdale is the closest town for easy access to the park. The trailhead is just after the east end of the tunnel and there are 2 small parking areas there.
Canyon Overlook Trail Zion is about 1 mile round-trip with 100 or so feet of elevation gain. This is one of the best views in Zion National Park for the lowest effort to reach!
There is a short bridge that may be a little tough for people with a strong fear of heights, but overall it’s an easy trail. This is a slightly lesser-known trail in the park that deserves more hype than it gets.
Some of the other things to do in the area are the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park towards Kanab, the East Rim Trail which is longer and a little more difficult, and the Moqui Caverns just outside of Kanab.
There are so many hikes for all skill levels in the area, you could stay busy for months!
Recommended by Megan of Red Around the World
Beginner hiking trips – more inspiration
There’s still more mountains to climb, forests to see and lakes to marvel at! Let’s keep going in the search for the best hiking trails for beginners…
21. Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Skyline Trail inside Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best hikes you’ll find anywhere!
Skyline Trail is 6 miles, and rated as moderate. There is an elevation gain of 1700 feet. Probably the most incline of any on this list, although it doesn’t require any special skills or fitness level. At times, hiking poles may be handy but are not necessary. It’s perfect for hiking beginners who are in decent athletic shape.
Because it is a loop, you can do the hike from either direction, but it’s highly recommend hiking in a clockwise direction.
Starting at the Paradise parking lot, you’ll head up the steps near the visitors center head up towards the left on the paved path towards “Panorama Point.” From this point you’ll look down into Paradise Valley and over the park. On clear days you can see Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams in the distance.
Following the loop around you’ll also pass some of Mount Rainier’s Waterfalls, hike through alpine tundra and open fields. You may see some of the resident black bears as well as the adorable marmots sunbathing on the rocks.
Note: always carry bear spray to Mount Rainier!
This hike in Mt Rainier is best done late summer when the wild flowers are blooming. It’s simply breathtaking at every turn! You can also snowshoe this hike during the winter, but that would be more difficult and require more skill.
Be sure to drive to the other areas of the park while you are visiting. Outside the park is Crystal Mountain, where you can take a gondola ride to the top and eat lunch with an amazing view of Mount Rainier.
Recommended by Chantelle of Flannels or Flip Flops
22. Park Avenue Trail, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
One of the best hiking trails for beginners is in southeast Utah at Arches National Park. Of course seeing the arches at the park are phenomenal! Many of the trails in the park are paved, making Arches National Park perfect for almost anyone new to hiking.
There are more challenging hikes in Arches National Park – like Delicate Arch Trail – the famous arch seen on Utah’s license plate. However, perhaps one of the best hiking trails for beginners is the Park Avenue Trail. It’s less visited than the other trails, and offers magnificent views of the canyon.
On either sides of the trail are giant walls with rock ‘fins’ at the top. Those are the beginning stages of what could be arches! It’s truly a sight that appears out of this world.
The hike is about 2 miles round trip. However, if you are traveling with someone who doesn’t want to hike the trail, they can drop you off at one end and pick you up on the other, making it an even easier hike. More time to see the famous arches in the park!
Pro tip: be sure to wear sunscreen, hat or other sun cover as the desert sun gets extremely hot, especially in the peak of summer. And bring more water than you think you’ll need!
Recommended by me – Nikki of She Saves She Travels
Related: 30 Cool Things to Do in Moab, Utah
23. Bobcat Boardwalk, Everglades National Park, Florida
If you’re looking for an easy hike then the Bobcat Boardwalk is the perfect place to start. At only 0.4 miles, this trail is short and easily manageable for all experience levels.
The trail is a loop so you can conveniently park your car and get back to where you started. There is no elevation gain as this trail goes along the water and much of it consists of wooden boardwalks and bridges.
Keep in mind that the Bobcat Boardwalk is located in the Everglades National Park which charges a 30$ fee per car. The hike itself is free to access.
This trail is especially popular among those wanting to spot wildlife. Keep an eye out for rare bird species and even alligators. Definitely take your camera and lots of mosquito spray especially during rainy days.
It’s perfect for an afternoon trip or even a day trip if you want to explore more of Everglades National Park. Keep in mind that the trail does get quite crowded on the weekends so coming early in the morning is recommended.
Recommended by Victoria of Guide Your Travel
24. Catawba Falls Trail, Asheville, North Carolina
Catawba Falls is a beautiful hike and just east of Asheville, North Carolina. The 2.7 mile round trip hike follows a river up through the shady forest up to the 100ft tall Catawba Falls waterfall.
This relatively easy hike crosses the river multiple times, includes many sturdy bridges, and small waterfalls along the way. It’s a great hike year-round, especially in the summer since you can cool off in the river and find shade in the canopy of trees.
Having only a 300ft elevation change, it’s a perfect trail for families or for those traveling with dogs. Towards the end of the hike the trail becomes a bit more rocky and you start to hear the sound of rushing water until the Catawba Falls appears out of the trees.
The large boulders at the base of the falls create a great place to eat lunch or swim in the cool water before hiking back down. Be sure to bring hiking shoes that can get a bit wet if it’s after a large rain.
You’ll also want to bring plenty of water as there is a public bathroom, but no running water at the trailhead. Catawba Falls is one of the easiest, and most convenient waterfalls to access while visiting Asheville, NC.
Recommended by Ashton of It’s AAAllgood
25. Mono Trail, Bass Lake, California
Bass Lake, California is a sleepy mountain town about an hour’s drive away from Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A popular spot for fishing in the summer and skiing in the winter, Bass Lake also has great hiking trails. One in particular, called The Way of the Mono, is one of the best easy hikes in the USA.
A half mile out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of only 141 feet, it’s an easy paced trail for hikers of all skill levels. The trailhead is clearly marked with a big sign at the parking lot that can be seen from the road. There is a backup parking lot nearby if needed as well.
One of the wonderful qualities of The Way of the Mono trail is the shade. The trail leads through shaded mossy areas with a clearly marked path. Also along the trail are plaques telling the story of The Mono, a hunting and gathering society of Native Americans who once lived off this land.
At the peak of the hike is a viewpoint overlooking beautiful Bass Lake. Hikers can climb out onto the boulders for more vantage points, or turn around and take the same trail back.
If time allows, another one of the popular hikes in Bass Lake is called Angel Falls. Located close by, the Angel Falls trail requires a more moderate skill level, and ends with some waterfalls and rock pools. These hiking trails are open and popular all times of year.
Recommended by Olivia of Girl With Blue Sails
26. Calico Tanks Trail, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada
Red Rock Canyon is a National Conservation Area that’s just a 30 minute drive from Las Vegas, Nevada. For a small entry fee you can do a 13 mile scenic drive of the park, with opportunities along the way to stop for pictures or for a hike.
One of the hikes worth doing is Calico Tank Trail. This 2.2 mile long out and back trail takes about 2 hours, with 406 ft. of elevation gain. It takes you up through a canyon, past hills and boulders.
Calico Tank Trail has some tricky sections, but because they are super short the trail is considered moderate in difficulty. When you reach the end of the trail, you’re rewarded with beautiful views of mountains, as well as the park’s famous red rocks.
Depending on the time of year that you visit, you might spot some wildflowers, too! While you technically can do this hike at any time of year, it becomes very hot in the summer months. To avoid the heat, it’s best to do this one between October and May.
Be sure to pack water, snacks and sunscreen! To access the trailhead for Calico Tank, park at the Sandstone Quarry. If you’d like to do more in the area, you can drive the entire Red Rock Canyon scenic loop, and stop at the park’s Visitor Centre to check out their displays and the souvenir shop.
Recommended by Erin of Pina Travels
27. Green Sand Beach Hike, Big Island, Hawaii
One of the most interesting and unusual hikes to do on the Big Island of Hawaii is to hike to the green sand beach called Papakolea. It’s located on the south end of the island.
The hike from the main parking lot is to the green sand beach is about 5 miles round trip. The hike is mostly flat to slightly rolling hills along the scenic coast, so it’s perfect for hiking for beginners.
The terrain is sandy and gravel and occasionally you’ll start to see patches of green sand as you approach the shore. Set on the sides of a deteriorating cinder cone with a hollowed out bay, you’ll climb a short cliff with stairs to get down to the green sand beach.
The sand is actually an olivine mineral that was created with lava explosions hitting the ocean and the heavier minerals sitting on top. One of only 4 green sand beaches in the world, the green sand beach on the Big Island is really spectacular!
Recommended by Noel of This Hawaii Life
28. Enchanted Rock Hike, Enchanted Rock State Park, Fredericksburg, Texas
Fredericksburg is a small Texas town located about 1.5 hours west of Austin. This charming town is known for its great wine scene, beautiful Texas bluebonnet fields, and Enchanted Rock State Park. Visitors flock to Enchanted Rock not only for its fabulous views, but also because it is one of the best easy hikes in the USA.
The massive pink granite boulder that is Enchanted Rock is said to have magical power given to it by the Native Americans that used to travel from everywhere to visit it.
Once you arrive at Enchanted Rock, you’ll find that there are 11 miles of hiking trails in the park. For an easy hike, follow the Interpretive Loop Trail.
This .5 mile trail will take you around the base of “Little Rock” allowing you to see the beautiful pink granite of Enchanted Rock up close. In addition to the Interpretive Loop Trail, another easy trail is Frontside Trail, which takes you through the shade of some Texas oak trees and connects you to another trail, Turkey Pass.
If you want to hike to the top of Enchanted Rock, take the summit trail. Do note that this is a moderate-level hiking trail. While Summit Trail is only .8 miles, it does have a decently steep grade and can get a little slippery.
Be sure to wear hiking boots if you want to get to the top of Enchanted Rock on Summit Trail. Remember, you are hiking up the side of a granite boulder.
Even if you don’t make it to the top of Enchanted Rock, there is plenty of beautiful scenery and wildlife to be seen on the easy trails of Enchanted Rock State Park!
Recommended by Michelle from That Texas Couple
29. Hole-In-The-Rock Trail, Scottsdale, Arizona
Hole-In-The-Rock is one of the best hikes in Phoenix, Arizona, and it’s only a short 0.2 mile climb! This easy, out-and-back hike is located in Papago Park, where the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden are located. It’s one of the best things to do on a day trip to Phoenix.
Although Hole-In-The-Rock is a short hike, it provides breathtaking, scenic views. You’ll be shocked that you’ve only gained 200 feet in elevation, so it’s easily one of the best hiking trails for beginners!
During the hike, you’ll climb up a large, red sandstone butte, and once you reach the end, you’ll be able to walk through a naturally-eroded hole into an overlook of downtown Phoenix – which is where the hike gets its name!
Once you’ve climbed through the hole, it’s a great place to take a seat, have a snack, and enjoy looking at the surrounding area. This hike is gorgeous during sunrise or sunset.
This hike is excellent for beginners, and it’s a great trail to bring kids or dogs on, too. If you’re looking for another easy hike in Papago Park that takes a bit longer to complete than Hole-In-The-Rock, try the Double Butte Loop trail after you’re finished!
Recommended by Brit of Travel by Brit
30. Solstice Canyon Loop Trail, Malibu, California
One of the best hikes in the USA to get maximum views for minimal effort is the Solstice Canyon Loop Trail in Malibu, California. It’s a relatively easy 3.2 mile hike with approximately 800 feet in elevation gain. This trail gives striking views of the Santa Monica Mountains and the Pacific Ocean and can be done as a slow, leisurely hike to really soak in the views.
You’ll feel like the luckiest person in the world when you get to see the picturesque scenery this hike has to offer! It embodies everything that makes California great.
Early on in the hike, there is a small waterfall which you can access from a trail offshoot. It’s a nice place to rest for a bit, catch your breath, and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. The hike also offers plenty of great bird-watching opportunities!
From there, the trail. It will begin to have slightly more elevation gain until you reach the top for beautiful views of wildflowers, peaks and valleys, and the blue ocean as far as your eyes can see. This is the payoff of this hike, and it is sure to have you sighing in wonderment.
The trail is beautiful year round, one of the perks of hiking in Southern California. If you can, go on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Be sure to bring a cap and ocean-safe sunscreen as shade is sparse on this hike. And of course, bring along plenty of water and snacks, and also be prepared for spotty cell reception. Aside from that, just enjoy yourself on one of the best easy hikes in the US!
Recommended by Sumeeta of Sumeeta Seeks
Best USA hiking trails for beginners
Whew! That’s a wrap! This list included trails across the US, all perfect to get any hiking fears out of the way and just enjoy the many benefits of being in the great outdoors.
Each hiking location on this list will require different things to pack. From bear spray to insect repellent, it’s all important! After selecting a hiking trail (or 2!), do a little more in-depth research on what you’ll need to make your hiking trip as memorable as possible.
And here’s a list of items to pack for a day hike to help get you ready for a hiking adventure.
Let’s recap that list again, in a more succinct fashion…
Easy beginner hikes in the US
- Twin Falls Trail, North Bend, Washington
- Mossy Cave Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
- Baring Falls Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
- Lands End Trail, San Francisco, California
- River Trail, Great Falls Park, Virginia
- Perkins Central Garden Trail, Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado
- Mermaid’s Chair Hike, St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
- Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona
- Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Trail, Naples, Florida
- East Observatory Trail, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, California
- Coyote Valley Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
- Quabbin Reservoir Gate 11 Hike, Massachusetts
- Sabino Lake Loop Trail, Tucson, Arizona
- Hurricane Hill Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
- Grotto Falls Hike, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
- Mahaulepu Heritage Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
- Congress Trail, Sequoia National Park, California
- The Lighthouse Trail, Palo Duro State Park, Amarillo, Texas
- Hanging Rock Trail, Hanging Rock State Park, Danbury, North Carolina
- Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
- Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
- Park Avenue Trail, Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
- Bobcat Boardwalk, Everglades National Park, Florida
- Catawba Falls Trail, Asheville, North Carolina
- Mono Trail, Bass Lake, California
- Calico Tanks Trail, Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, Nevada
- Green Sand Beach Hike, Big Island, Hawaii
- Enchanted Rock Hike, Enchanted Rock State Park, Fredericksburg, Texas
- Hole-In-The-Rock Trail, Scottsdale, Arizona
- Solstice Canyon Loop Trail, Malibu, California
Well, have you decided which trail you’ll hit first? I’m excited for you to get started!
More fun hiking resources to check out:
Best Hiking in the Midwest: 16 Cool Hikes You’ll Want to See
28 Best National Parks for Hiking during Summer
Hiking in Austin: 3 Easy Hikes Anyone Can Do
10 Best Hikes in Canyonlands National Park that Promise Incredible Views
Hiking to Faux Falls, Moab: a Hidden Gem in Utah
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