16 of the Best Summer Hikes in the US

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There are many options for summer hikes in the US. With longer days and less snow in the mountains: for some, summer is the best hiking season.

We’ve shared US summer road trip ideas and romantic getaways for couples. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid hiker, or just fancy a little stroll, there is a summer or winter US hiking trail for you!

Best Summer Hikes in the US

The best spots for hiking in the US this summer:

1. Acadia National Park 

Acadia National Park is a great place for summer hikes.  The national park is in Maine, in the far northeastern corner of the country.  It is spread out over a large portion of Mount Desert Island, the nearby Schoodic Peninsula, and the tiny Isle au Haut.  The easiest way to get there is to drive (there is a bridge to Mount Desert Island), but it is also possible to catch a bus to Bar Harbor, the main gateway town, and then take a free shuttle around Mount Desert Island section of the park.

The park’s main features are forested hills and miles of rocky shoreline.  The hills are laced with historic carriage roads, built by Rockefeller, and incredible hiking trails. Two of the most famous trails in the USA are here.  The Beehive and the Precipice are both challenging hikes that involve clambering up iron rungs that have been attached to the cliff face and walking on narrow ledges holding on to chains. Not for the faint-hearted. 

However, both of these trails have easier alternatives (The Bowl Trail and the Champlain North Ridge Trail) that get to the same point – the tops of hills with sensational views over the surrounding seas and islands.  Other great trails include Penobscot Mountain, Acadia Mountain, and Cadillac Mountain – all with equally amazing views.

In addition to hiking, you can go cycling, kayaking or sailing, or just sit at Jordan Boathouse and enjoy popovers al fresco. Hikers should always check the state of the trails before setting out. The Precipice Trail is sometimes closed in summer because of nesting peregrine falcons and the trails can be icy and dangerous in winter. 

Recommended by James of Parks Collecting

Acadia National Park -Summer Hikes in the US
View from the Beehive trail in Acadia National Park looking towards the Atlantic Ocean, Bar Harbor, and the coast

2. Angel Island State Park

Angel Island State Park offers a rich mix of wilderness and California history, just fifteen minutes from downtown San Francisco. This island in the middle of San Francisco Bay has served as a military base, immigration station, and cold war missile site.

All of that history is cocooned in a lovely natural environment with grassy chaparral, coast live oak trees, and native grasses. So, it makes a great hike for people who like to mix their nature with their culture. Angel Island is also a great summer hike because this part of the bay stays cool and breezy, so you’ll never get too hot on the hike.

There are several ways to hike Angel Island. The most comprehensive is to take the 5-mile ring road all around the island and it covers all of the historic sites. Another option is to partially do the ring road, but then take the Ridge Trail up to the tiptop of the island. This routing is 4.5 miles and it goes through the oak forest before topping at an overlook with gobsmacking 360’ views of the San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate, and Bay Bridges, and the city skyline.

You have to take a ferry over to Angel Island, which you can do from either Pier 41 in the city or from the Tiburon ferry terminal. Pack a lunch and plan to spend all day exploring the island. 

Recommended by Carol of California Crossings

3. Breckenridge Colorado

Breckenridge is the perfect launching point for some great summer hiking. The ski resort town is high in the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 9,600 feet. Because of the high elevation, it is never too hot to hike. 

There are many hiking trails for all abilities and ages within a short drive, and some hikes you can access right from town. The towering mountains surrounding Breckenridge offer beautiful hikes through woods, wildflowers, and high rocky crags.  

If you really want a challenge, the trail to Quandary Peak is rocky and steep and over 14,000 feet in elevation at the top.  There are also many moderate hikes like the section of the Colorado Trail that goes through Breckenridge and the Lower Sawmill and Snowflake Trail Loop.  The best easy hike starts in the parking lot of the ice arena and ends at a 15-foot wooden troll sculpture. The Breckenridge Troll is something you won’t want to miss.

Hiking Tip- During the summer in Breckenridge is usually sunny in the morning and then thunderstorms roll in later in the afternoon.  Plan to hike early to avoid bad weather.

Breckenridge is 80 miles west of Denver and the drive is about an hour and a half.  There are plenty of lodging and dining options along with many outdoor activities. The beauty of the Rocky Mountains makes Breckenridge a great destination for hiking in the summer.

Recommended by Diane of Travels with Eli

4. Blue Basin Overlook Trail – Oregon

Have you ever heard about John Day Fossil Beds? It’s a gorgeous National Monument and it’s located in Central Oregon. It’s a very quiet place, there are no major cities nearby. Bend is the closest town, and it takes a 2,5-hour drive to get from there to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

It’s a great area to visit in the Summer months, the colors of the landscape look even brighter when the sun comes out! The temperatures are great for hiking, between 15 and 23 degrees Celsius (55-80 Fahrenheit).

The park is divided into three separate units, and the Painted Hills Unit is the most well-known. However, I found the Sheep Rock Unit even more beautiful and it is home to one of the most beautiful short hikes in Oregon.

It’s called the Blue Basin Overlook Trail, a loop trail that is only 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) long and the landscape changes around every corner. It follows the ridge of a mountain the highlight is definitely the Blue Basin Overlook. I’m sure that you’ll be overwhelmed with this view. It looks like the mountain has blue-green cliffs!

It’ll take about 1 to 1.5 hours to hike Blue Basin Overlook Trail and you probably won’t see any other hikers, since not many tourists seem to find the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. But I’m pretty sure that’ll change soon because it’s one of the most beautiful places in Oregon!

Recommended by Jacoba of Op reis met Co

Summer Hikes in the US - Blue basin Trail

5. Blue Lakes Trail – Ridgway, Colorado

Nestled in a glacial basin in the spacious Mount Sneffels Wilderness in southwest Colorado, the Blue Lakes Trail is an unbelievable summer hike in the US. You’ll hike to three alpine lakes filled with wildflowers, stunning views, and stream crossings. Backcountry camping options are near the first lake.

Unrivaled 360-degree views abound from the second and third lakes, making this 8-mile out-and-back hike super rewarding. While many label the Blue Lakes Trail a hard hike, it honestly leans on the easy side of hard and is quite worth it with active kids (ages 10 and up) and adults. 

Plan to hit the Blue Lakes Trail by 8 am for the best weather and to beat afternoon thunderstorms in the summer. Pack plenty of snacks or a picnic lunch, plus 2 liters of water per person.You may like to have water sandals for the handful of water crossings. Bring your camera for awesome 360 views. 

Allow at least 5-6 hours for this hike and don’t forget your rain jacket and a pullover for the hike. Colorado weather can change in a minute, especially in the afternoon — watch the clouds.

To reach the Blue Lakes Trailhead from Ridgway, take Hwy 62 East to Dallas Creek Road for 14 miles to the Blue Lakes Trailhead. Driving a 4×4 is helpful for the last 14 miles.

Recommended by Tanya of Rad Family Travel

 Blue Lakes Trail - Colorado
Views from the Blue Lakes Trail.

6. Crater Lake under the Maroon Bells – Colorado

The hiking trail to Crater Lake is one of the best hikes to see the iconic Maroon Bells near Aspen, Colorado. Your hike will start on the Maroon Snowmass Trail where you will soon pass Maroon Lake. Hiking past Maroon Lake through groves of aspen, you will enjoy fantastic views of sharp mountain peaks on the way to Crater Lake. The lake rests right below the Maroon Bells’ sheer eastern face. 

Hiking to the Maroon Bells is one of the most beautiful hikes in the Colorado Rockies. Aim for hiking here during the week, as the weekends can be very busy. Pack snacks or a picnic lunch and plenty of water.

This 3.8-mile round trip hike gains 700 feet in elevation and with its rocky terrain, it’s deemed a moderate out and back hike.

As of 2021, a permit is required to reach this area by vehicle or depending on the date and time of day, you may need to ride the shuttle up there. 

To reach the trailhead for this hike, drive 1/2 mile west of Aspen on Hwy 82 and turn left on Maroon Creek Road at the roundabout. Stay to the right and drive 9.5 miles to the Maroon Lake parking lot. 

Pro Tip: Crater Lake often dries up after the snowmelt is gone in mid-summer, but the Bells are still a sight to behold. 

Recommended by Melody & Tanya of Colorado Hikes and Hops

Crater Lake National Park

7. Delicate Arch, Utah

The Hike to Delicate Arch has the most stunning destination that you will ever experience.  You cannot see the arch at all as you are hiking.  As you approach the Arch at the end of the hike, you are walking along a rock wall that blocks your view.  Suddenly, the rock wall ends and you are staring at a massive, intricately balanced, tall rock arch.  Photos don’t do justice to the enormity of it, standing off the earth like it doesn’t belong.  

The hike to Delicate Arch is only 1.5 miles (3 miles round trip).  You pay for entrance into Arches National Park to access the trailhead. In Arches, you can find hikes to hundreds of arches. Don’t miss these Top Ten hikes in Arches National Park. Don’t be misled to the Delicate Arch viewing area, you cannot access the hike to the arch from the viewing area. Be sure to head to the trailhead.  

The hiking trail begins on a wide gravel path, where you can find petroglyphs carved into the rocks.  Then it meanders through wide-open rock faces. This means the trail isn’t well defined and you are free to roam and climb where your heart leads you. This gives you plenty of space from others enjoying the trail.  Follow the cairns to stick with the trail.  

Finally, the trail narrows and follows a rock wall, where you will spy several other small arches in the rocks.  When you least suspect it, Delicate Arch will be revealed standing in all its majesty. Be sure to walk out to the Arch to touch and stare up underneath to experience the full weight of it.  You will want to stay and soak in this natural wonder for quite a while, so find a comfortable piece of rock and some shade.  

This hike can be hot in the heat of the day with no trees for shade. Bring lots of water and sunscreen. Go hiking early in the day or later in the evening to avoid the heat. The hike to Delicate Arch will quickly be in your top summer hikes of all time!

Recommended by Jamie from Fly by the Seat of our Pants

Delicate Arch  - USA Summer Hikes
A park with over 2,000 stone arches.

8. Devil’s Bathtub, VA

The easy-going Devil’s Bathtub hike in Southwest Virginia leads hikers of all ages to a wildly refreshing crystal-clear swimming hole that’s a welcoming oasis on a warm summer day. Even better, there is a small waterfall and two rope swings.

This four-mile hike in Scott County is among the most popular in all of Virginia. Maybe because of the exhilarating swimming hole, which only gets as warm as 65 degrees (brrr, cold). Maybe because of the name, which allegedly was given because Devil’s Bathtub has the “only water cold enough to squelch the fires of hell.” We may never know.

For clarity, there are two basins, each filled with icy cold waters from the Devil’s Fork in the Jefferson National Forest. The first aquamarine-colored pool wows with a waterfall and rope swings. Walk just past the swimming hole to see a bathtub-shaped basin and a second cascading waterfall.

If you go, bring water shoes. There are multiple water crossings along the yellow-blazed Devil’s Fork Trail. Depending on water levels, you may be able to hopscotch across exposed rocks or you may need to wade in to cross creeks and streams. For safety reasons, it’s not advised to cross if water levels are above your knees. 

Recommended by Erin of Go Hike Virginia

Devils Bathtub Hike - Virginia USA

9. Highline Trail To Haystack Pass – Glacier National Park

If you are looking for one of the best hiking trails in the United States, it can be found inside the incredible Glacier National Park in Montana. Nearly an eight-mile round trip, The Highline Trail to Haystack Pass is worth every moment. A somewhat narrow trail where you walk single-file for parts of it, on the horizon are the most spectacular views of the mountain peaks towering above.  And while it appears precarious in parts, especially at the beginning, it is well worth it for a hike to remember for a lifetime.

The beginning (and the end) is the trickiest part because hikers hold on to a rope fastened to the mountainside to get by (though it is not as scary as it sounds). This hike is glorious but it is also busy.  On our hiking day, we were often passing other hikers, so it is not a solitary hike. But it is still well worth it!

It is family-friendly for older kids if they can tolerate the distance, and we took our 11-year-old and 8-year-old twins on it last summer. But it is not ideal for younger kids or anyone with mobility concerns. 

Most importantly, you will want to bring a camera for this hike, ideally one with a wide-angle lens. On a clear day, the scenery is breathtaking the entire length of the trip, with panoramic views of Glacier’s peaks and skyline. You will also see local animals, like wild mountain goats, marmots, horned sheep, and more.  It is recommended to bring bear spray and extra water, a water filter, and lunch. It gets hot on parts of the trail.  We also went with a guide from Glacier Guides.

In total, it took us around six hours from start to finish, including stops for snacks and lunch. Upon arriving at Haystack Pass, there are plenty of flat rocks to enjoy lunch while taking in the view.  Dressing in layers was also key, so bringing a hiking pack is best for taking off and adding on layers as needed.

The Highline Trailhead begins from Logan’s Pass, which you get to from the Going To The Sun Road.  Parking, restrooms, water filling stations, and a café are available at Logan’s Pass.  Glacier’s Highline Trail to Haystack Pass is one of the best hiking trails in the US and one for the bucket list!

Recommended by Keri of Bon Voyage With Kids

10. Ice Lake Basin Trail, San Juan National Forest

The Ice Lake Basin trail is located in the San Juan National Forest and is touted as one of the best summer hikes in Colorado if idyllic alpine scenery and turquoise mountain lakes are your jam. Even though this trail is gorgeous year-round, what makes it such a treat during the summer is that the pleasant weather and sunny mornings make the lakes look insanely vibrant and you’ll also be able to witness wildflowers in full bloom.

Throughout the hike, you’ll be treated to waterfalls dropping from cliff sides (summers, only!), jaw-dropping alpine meadows, and a delightful show of 13,000-foot peaks acting as a backdrop. At the end of the trail, you’ll get to witness the most insane views of Ice Lake, where you can continue the feat by hiking for thirty more minutes to see the nearby Island Lake, which will delight you with even more beautiful views of yet another of iconic Colorado alpine lake.

To get to the trailhead (from Ouray, Colorado), head south out of town on US-550. After several miles, you’ll drop towards Mineral Creek, where you’ll have to make a sharp right on Forest Road 7. Continue down the road until you reach the trailhead.

Note that this is a pretty tough hike, so make sure you acclimate properly (there are plenty of places to take a break, so don’t worry!). Another tip is to plan to hike this trail during a sunny day, as both lakes look the bluest when the sun is shining!

From Meg at Fox in the Forest

Ice Lake Basin Trail - US Summer Hikes

11. Monterey Coastal Trail

With beautiful coastal views of the Pacific Ocean and traversing famous landmarks throughout town, the Monterey Coastal Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Monterey, California

The trail spans a total length of 18 miles between Castroville in the north and Pacific Grove in the south. However, the best and most popular portion of the trail is located between Monterey’s Old Fisherman’s Wharf and Pacific Grove. This 2.2 mile long stretch of the Monterey Coastal Trail also bypasses Cannery Row and Pacific Grove’s famous harbor seals, making it a favorite amongst visitors to Monterey and the perfect spot to catch a glimpse of wildlife. 

While strolling along with the Cannery Row piece of the Monterey Coastal Trail, you can also grab a bite to eat at the popular restaurants and even visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the best sights to see in Monterey. Also along the trail is Lovers Point Park, the park is full of blooming magenta-colored ice plants throughout the months of March to July. The weather during the summer months can sometimes be a bit cloudy and overcast so be sure to dress warmly.  

Keep in mind if you start from Old Fisherman’s Wharf, the hike is 4.4 miles round trip back to the wharf. Though the trail is well-paved and perfect for wheelchairs and strollers, be sure to keep your eyes out for bikes since the trail is popular amongst both bikers and pedestrians. 

Recommended bt Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear

12. Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

Deep in the Sequoia National Park lies a short but grueling hike. After ascending 350 steps carved into a giant rock you are met with views that make you feel like you’re on the edge of the world. Moro Rock is only a 0.5-mile hike but at an elevation of over 6,000 feet, you’ll want to make sure you take your time! The ascent is no joke so be sure to take water and a snack with you.

After entering Sequoia National Park from the Three Rivers side, you’ll follow the General’s Highway up into the mountains. It’s only about 20 miles but with all the twists and turns it will take you about an hour to reach the trailhead.

The actual trailhead for Moro Rock is only open a few months in the summer and may only be open to cars with a handicap permit. If this is the case you’ll have to park at the museum, adding two miles to your hike.

After crossing the street into the museum parking lot you’ll see signs for Moro Rock Trail. You can follow the road all the way to the base of Moro Rock. The trail veers down to the right but eventually meets back up with the road. The trail is a little more picturesque but the road is wide and well-paved, making for an easy walk. While Moro Rock is a popular trail, it’s not nearly as busy as Yosemite. This made it a great summer hike option and a great addition to our west coast road trip!

Recommended by Samantha of Have Seat Will Travel

USA Summer Road Trips - Moro Rock

13. Skyline Trail Loop, Washington 

The Skyline Trail is, without a doubt, one of the best hikes in Mt. Rainier National Park. Just a couple of hours south of Seattle, the trail starts from the Henry M. Jackson Visitors Center and climbs to Panorama Point, where you’ll have sweeping views of the Tatoosh Range to the south, and an up-close-and-personal encounter with the Mountain that dominates the Seattle Skyline – Rainier. 

The trail is open for a short window in the summer, which makes it the best time to hike it almost by default. In the early summer – sometimes through July – there is still a significant amount of snow on the trail. August and September are the best months, and then snow starts to accumulate again in mid-October. 

The combination of the short hiking season and spectacular views makes it a very, very popular hike. The parking lot is big, but fills up early, particularly on summer weekends. Make sure to get an early start so that you don’t have to share the amazing viewpoint at the top with a hundred other people. Don’t miss Myrtle Falls, a spectacular waterfall with Rainier towering in the background, which is a short offshoot from the trail. 

Since it’s a loop, you can do it both clockwise and counter-clockwise. The busiest portion of the trail is the west side, and a lot of people choose to do it out and back along that more maintained route. The views from the east side of the trail are spectacular, and doing it counter-clockwise will give you more solitude on the less-traveled part of the trail. 

Recommended by Matt of West Coast Wayfarers

14. St. John, U.S Virgin Islands

Lind Point Trail is located in St. John, U.S Virgin Islands. Since at least 2/3’s of St. John is considered a U.S National Park, it offers a large variety of trails, with Lind Point Trail being one of the most famous ones and the best places for summer hikes in the US!

In order to get to St. John, you need to take a 25-minute ferry from St. Thomas to get there. St. John is home to diverse wildlife, and the 2.3-mile trail gives you a beautiful look at the gorgeous landscape and diverse animal life that lives on the island. Throughout the year, the weather is fairly warm, so you’ll get to enjoy a hike in amazing weather. It also leads to Honeymoon beach, which is the perfect way to end your hike by enjoying the clear blue water the beach has to offer.

The hike itself is suitable for just about all levels of hiking expertise, from beginners to experts. As a tip, be sure to bring water along on your trip. It’s pretty warm year-round, so while you can enjoy the feeling of warm temperature, you’ll also want to stay hydrated throughout the process. The trail itself can be a little rocky, so be sure to bring proper shoe attire for it before switching it out once you get to the beach. Although most of the island is considered a national park, there are still plenty of places to stay in St. Johns,  if you want to stay on the island. 

Recommended Martin of Traveler Explorator

Lind Point Trail - USA Summer Hikes

15. The Subway Hike – Zion National Park 

One of the best hiking trails in Zion National Park is the Subway Bottom-Up route hike, perfect for the summer months.

It’s not easy to do this hike because it is an off-trail route. Most important is to know that a wilderness permit for making this trail is mandatory. So, before you go, check how to get a permit for the Subway hike. This hike begins and ends at the Left Fork Trailhead on the Kolob Terrace Road. There is a steep 400-feet descent from the trailhead to the bottom of the canyon.

The hike is rewarded with the entrance to a tunnel carved by nature in the rocks. It resembles a subway tunnel with its oval shape, and it’s spectacular. Moreover, all the route offers amazing wild scenery in the canyon surrounded by tall red and orange rocks.

The Subway hike is perfect for the summer months because it is a long hike of 8 miles round trip in rough terrain. Most of the time, you are walking in the river, crossing it many times, and you are wading knee-deep in water. In summer, the water is warmer, so it is possible to do this trek without neoprene boots and socks. But waterproof hiking shoes with excellent grip are necessary because the river’s rocks and stones are very slippery. There are a lot of obstacles. Trekking poles help you keep your balance.

In summer, the day is longer, so you also have more time to return from the gorge. As the trail is not marked, it isn’t easy to find the way up from the riverbed. When starting your hike, it is worth pointing this place on the GPS. The hike takes up to 8 hours both ways, so it’s worth starting early in the morning.

Recommended by Agnes of The Van Escape

Subway Hike, USA

16. Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City is one of the best places for summer hikes in the US. Surrounded by mountains, there are many amazing hikes that are perfect for a summer day. One amazing thing about hiking in the summer in Utah is that the temperature in the mountains is almost 20 degrees cooler than in the valley. 

The most popular hikes are located in Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons. 

At the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon is Silver Lake. There is a wooden platform around the lake making this one of the most kid-friendly hikes in Utah because you can easily bring a stroller. Not only is this hike beautiful but you may even see wildlife nearby. Silver Lake is a little less than a mile around the lake but if you want to extend your hike there are trails just off the backend of the lake.  

If you love waterfall hikes, the best time to explore is in the Spring and early Summer. Rocky Mouth is a fun and short hike that ends with a beautiful waterfall. Another amazing hike is Lisa Falls.  It is located in Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Both of these hikes are short with big rewards at the end. 

Just south of Salt Lake City is the Timpanogos National Monument. This hike requires a little planning! You have to schedule a time to go because once you reach the top of the mountain you will be taken on a guided cave tour. This hike is intense with switchbacks but once you enter the cave you immediately cool off.  It is a perfect summer hike.   

Recommended by Lisa of Planning Away

Hiking in Utah -  Summer Hikes USA

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