The best local hiking trails in each state


Written by:

November 17 is National Take a Hike Day and what better way to celebrate the day, and the crisp fall season, than with a hike. With that, we’re highlighting the best local trail in each state.

We looked exclusively at hikes that are 10 miles or less total, so you don’t have to spend longer than an afternoon on the trail. Plus, each trail on this list offers something more than just exercise — we’ve also included the thing you must see on each trail.

Image Credit: Imgorthand.

Alabama: Mountain Laurel Trail

Where: Cheaha State Park

Distance: 2.3-mile loop

Must see: Wander along the streambank to the Rock Garden Outlook, where you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Talladega National Forest.

Image Credit: JimVallee/istockphoto.

Alaska: X Lake Loop

Where: Talkeetna Lakes Park

Distance: 3.5-mile loop

Must see: In the fall, this is the prime spot to go blueberry-picking. This trail circles X Lake and takes you through beautiful old-growth forests where you’re bound to see wildlife and can enjoy fishing.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Official State of Alaska Website.

Arizona: Soldiers Pass Trail No. 66

Where: Coconino National Forest

Distance: 4.5-mile loop

Must see: This trail passes two natural arches, the Seven Sacred Pools and Devil’s Kitchen, which is the largest sinkhole in Arizona.

Image Credit: JeffGoulden/istockphoto.

Arkansas: Bear Hollow Trail

Where: Mount Magazine State Park

Distance: 3.7 miles out and back

Must see: Catch some of the best scenery in the state here: This trail crosses several creeks that lead to waterfalls. Other sights include WPA steps and Sunrise Rock.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Official Arkansas State Parks Website.

California: Runyon Canyon Trail

Where: Runyon Canyon Park

Distance: 1.9 miles to 3.3 miles, depending on loop

Must see: This popular hike offers panoramic views of Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign — on clear days you can see all the way to the Pacific. Consider fueling your hike with an almond latte from the best local coffee shop. Go Get ‘Em Tiger, and keep your eye out for celebrities along the path.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Official Los Angeles Park Parks Website .

Colorado: Zapata Falls Trail

Where: Great Sand Dunes National Park

Distance: 1 mile out and back

Must see: You can get up close and personal with a majestic waterfall and enjoy breathtaking views of the dunes on this short trail, which includes wading into a rock crevasse.

Image Credit: shutterstock.

Connecticut: Bigelow Hollow Breakneck Loop

Where: Bigelow Hollow State Park

Distance: 6-mile loop

Must see: Enjoy beautiful views of Mashapaug Lake and Bigelow Pond in one of the largest forest areas in Connecticut.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection.

Delaware: Gordons Pond Trail

Where: Cape Henlopen State Park

Distance: 5.2 miles out and back

Must see: This walk takes you along an elevated boardwalk over miles of marshland and dunes.

Image Credit: Courtesy of

Florida: Black Rock Trail

Where: Big Talbot State Park

Distance: 1-mile loop

Must see: Stop at the midway point of this short loop to take in the spectacular rocky shoreline with tidal pools and bluffs.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Florida State Parks.

Georgia: Tennessee Rock Trail

Where: Black Rock Mountain State Park

Distance: 2.2-mile loop

Must see: Walk through the wildflower-filled forest in Georgia’s highest elevation park to check out the view at Tennessee Rock overlook.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Georgia Department of Natural Resources .

Hawaii: Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls

Where: Waimea Canyon State Park

Distance: 3.2 miles out and back

Must see: Observe the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii,” a majestic canyon on Hawaii’s Westernmost island.

Image Credit: Pawel Gaul/istockphoto.

Idaho: Third Fork Rock Creek Loop

Where: Sawtooth National Forest

Distance: 8.3-mile loop

Must see: Enjoy gorgeous river and waterfall views on this scenic, family and dog-friendly trail. Come back in the winter for great skiing right off the trail.

Image Credit: Courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture .

Illinois: Little Grand Canyon Trail

Where: Shawnee National Forest

Distance: 3-mile loop

Must see: This canyon descent features beautifully carved sandstone rock, waterfalls and rivers.

Image Credit: Courtesy of

Indiana: Clifty Falls 8,3,4,5 Loop

Where: Hoosier National Forest

Distance: 5.8-mile loop

Must see: There are a number of great waterfalls to check out, but the must-see is Hoffman Falls.

Image Credit: Courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service .

Iowa: Horseshoe Bluff Nature Trail

Where: Mines of Spain Easement

Distance: 0.9-mile loop

Must see: Make sure to check out the Julien Dubuque monument at the North end of the trail and the old quarry at the South end of the trail, which lies along the Mississippi River.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Friends of the Mines of Spain .

Kansas: Orange, Violet and Red Trail

Where: Shawnee Mission Park

Distance: 6.5-mile loop

Must see: This stunning trail boasts a beautiful dammed lake – Lake Lenexa – and is great for hiking, biking or horseback riding.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Official Johnson County Website.

Kentucky: Gray’s Arch Trail Loop

Where: Daniel Boone National Forest

Distance: 3.4-mile loop

Must see: Enjoy remarkable views of the forest and the famous Gray’s Arch.

Image Credit: Courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service .

Louisiana: Comite Park Trail

Where: Comite River Park

Distance: 4.9-mile loop

Must see: Experience the wonders of the Bayou on this wonderful riverside trail, but be sure to load up on insect repellant — it can get muggy.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Parks & Recreation in East Baton Rouge Parish .

Maine: Beehive Loop Trail

Where: Acadia National Park

Distance: 1.4-mile loop

Must see: The birds are what you can’t miss here. Be on the lookout for puffins and black-throated green warblers.

Image Credit: Zack Frank/shutterstock.

Maryland: Maryland Heights Loop

Where: Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park

Distance: 4.5 or 6.5 miles, depending on the loop

Must see: You’ll definitely want to see the historical Civil War artifacts along the way, which include artillery batteries and a stone fort. You’ll get plenty of good views of the Potomac here.

Image Credit: Zack Frank/shutterstock.

Massachusetts: Braintree Pass Path

Where: Blue Hills Reservation

Distance: 3 miles out and back

Must see: The trail passes by groves of hemlocks, laurel-covered mountains and a cedar swamp. An old cellar hole marks the Glover Homestead, where farmers settled hundreds of years ago.

After your hike, travel 20 minutes up to Boston, where you can re-fuel at the Boston Public Market, the must-visit local farmers market in the state.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Blue Hills Reversation .

Michigan: Chapel Loop

Where: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Distance: 10-mile loop

Must see: You’ll definitely want to see the landmark the trail gets its name from, but also the limestone arches that line the shore, including Lover’s Leap.

Image Credit: Courtesy of the National Park Service.

Minnesota: Silver Creek Trail

Where: Jay Cooke State Park

Distance: 3.5-mile loop

Must see: Get excited to cross the Swinging Bridge, which hangs above the St. Louis River and offers views of the Silver Creek.

Image Credit: Jay Cooke State Park.

Mississippi: Outcroppings Nature Trail

Where: Tishomingo State Park

Distance: 2-mile loop

Must see: This loop trail starts at the Swinging Bridge over the Bear Creek. If you want to spend the day outside, grab your gear — this trail is popular among rock climbers.

Image Credit: Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi by Visit Mississippi (CC BY).

Missouri: Buford Mountain Trail

Where: Buford Mountain

Distance: 9.1-mile trail

Must see: This trail takes you through the Buford Mountain Conservation Area to a peak of 1,740 feet above sea level, which you don’t want to miss. It’s a great spot for camping and seeing wildlife.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Missouri Department of Conservation.

Montana: South Fork Ross Creek Trail

Where: Kootenai National Forest, north of Yellowstone. 

Distance: 7.1 miles out and back

Must see: Follow Ross Creek through a forest of giant cedars and hemlocks to a picturesque lake surrounded by mountains. 

Image Credit: Courtesy of United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Nebraska: Saddle Rock Trail

Where: Scotts Bluff National Monument

Distance: 3.2 miles out and back

Must see: This is a short, but tough hike with a 435-foot climb. But it’s worth it — at the top, you could see raptors soaring above the bluff or box turtles crawling up the plains.

Image Credit: Courtesy of National Park Service.

Nevada: Historic Railroad Trail

Where: Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Distance: 7.5-mile loop

Must see: Catch views of Lake Mead and the Boulder Basin. Plus, you get to travel through large tunnels of a historical railroad route that ran from 1931 to 1961.

Image Credit: Hoover Dam / Lake Mead, November 2009 by Mispahn (CC BY).

New Hampshire: Champney Falls Trail

Where: Chocorua Lake Conservatory

Distance: 1.4 to 8.4 miles, depending on loop

Must see: This trail has really neat, old logging roads that you will walk over to get to the scenic Champney and Pitcher Falls. If you’re looking for an added challenge, you can climb 3,490 feet to the Mt. Chocorua summit.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Chocorua Lake Conservatory .

New Jersey: Red Dot and Blue Dot Loop Trail

Where: Worthington State Forest, Mount Tammany

Distance: 3.5-mile loop

Must see: Just two hours from New York City, this mountain trail gives you panoramic views of the Delaware River, nearby Mount Minsi and the hills of Pennsylvania.

Image Credit: Courtesy of NJ Trail Conference.

New Mexico: Main Loop Trail

Where: Bandalier National Monument

Distance: 1.2-mile loop

Must see: There are spectacular archaeological sites like Big Kiva, an ancient meeting place, and ladders you can climb into cavates, alcoves carved into the stone.

Image Credit: Courtesy of National Park Service.

New York: Sam’s Point and Verkeerderkill Falls Trail

Where: Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Distance: 8.2-mile loop

Must see: Make sure to see the gorgeous 187-foot waterfall, the highest in Sam’s Point. But also don’t miss the ice caves or the serene view of Lake Maratanza.

Image Credit: Courtesy of New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

North Carolina: Daniel Boone Scout Trail

Where: Grandfather Mountain

Distance: 6 miles out and back

Must see: At 5,964 feet above sea level, Calloway Peak is highest point in the Blue Ridge Mountains range. The rolling hills of Flat Rock View, about midway through the hike, are also worth seeing.

Image Credit: Courtesy of North Carolina State Parks.

North Dakota: Two Rivers Trail

Where: Knife River Indian Village

Distance: 6.2-mile loop

Must see: Walk alongside the Knife River and the Missouri River — you will also pass the village where Sacagawea once lived, as well as a sacred earth-lodge site.

Image Credit: Courtesy of National Park Service.

Ohio: South Loop

Where: Zaleski State Forest

Distance: 9.3-mile loop

Must see: Deep in the heart of an old-growth forest, you’ll see long patches of marshland (or snow fields in winter time) and small caverns on this trail.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Ohio State Parks and Watercraft.

Oklahoma: Bison Trail

Where: Wichita Mountains

Distance: 5.7-mile loop

Must see: The Wichita Mountains offers splendid views of lakes and craggy rock — follow the trail long enough and you could see herds of wild buffalo.

Image Credit: Courtesy of National Parks Service.

Oregon: Trail of Ten Falls

Where: Silver Falls State Park

Distance: 7.2-mile loop

Must see: As the name suggests, you can see 10 amazing waterfalls, from the 177-foot South Falls to the 27-foot Drake Falls.

Image Credit: GCC Photography/istockphoto.

Pennsylvania: Forbidden Drive

Where: Wissahickon Valley Park

Distance: 8.5 miles out and back

Must see: Don’t let the name scare you. This mostly flat trail offers standout views of old bridges and historical homes, and you can even ride a horse on it (with a permit). Finish off your afternoon hike with a sweet treat at Flying Monkey Bakery, the best local bakery in the state.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Friends of Wissahickon.

Rhode Island: Breakheart Pond Loop

Where: Arcadia Management Area

Distance: 3-mile loop

Must see: The highlight of this loop is the 44-acre pond it surrounds.

Image Credit: Courtesy of State of Rhode Island Division of Parks & Recreation.

South Carolina: Falls Creek

Where: Jones Gap State Park

Distance: 3.4 miles out and back

Must see: This short and sweet hike offers breathtaking views of a 125-foot waterfall that is sure to be unlike anything you’ve seen before.

Image Credit: Denton Rumsey/shutterstock.

South Dakota: Crow Peak

Where: Black Hills National Forest

Distance: 5.9 miles out and back

Must see: Look out for wild turkeys and deer along the way on your way up the peak. Once you’ve reached the peak, you’ll get panoramic views of Black Hills Mountains, including Terry Peak and Bear Butte.

Image Credit: Zack Frank/shutterstock.

Tennessee: Alum Cave Hiking Trail

Where: Smoky Mountains

Distance: 4.4-mile loop

Must see: Though you won’t actually see a cave, you’ll get to see plenty of breathtaking rock formations, including Arch Rock and The Eye of the Needle.

Image Credit: anthony heflin/shutterstock.

Texas: Barton Creek Greenbelt Trail

Where: Trailhead is near Zilker Park, but there are various access points around south-central Austin

Distance: 7 miles out and back

Must see: There are several great swimming holes along the trail, including Twin Falls and Sculpture Falls — but don’t miss limestone bluffs that line the path.

Image Credit: Danielle S./

Utah: Lake Blanche Trail

Where: Big Cottonwood Canyon

Distance: 6.9 miles out and back

Must see: Definitely check out Lake Blanche, but if you have the time, take the short trails to explore Lake Florence and Lake Lillian.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Official State of Utah Website.

Vermont: Sunset Ridge Trail

Where: Mount Mansfield, Summit Post

Distance: 5.7 miles out and back

Must see: The best part of this trail is the two miles of ridge-top hiking above the treeline, known as Adam’s Apple. Here, you can get a glimpse of rare arctic tundra.

Image Credit: Courtesy of Official State of Vermont Website.

Virginia: Old Rag Mountain Trail

Where: Shenandoah Valley

Distance: 9-mile loop

Must see: The 360-degree views of the Shenandoah Valley are unparalleled. Make sure to be prepared for a full day of hiking.

Image Credit: Zack Frank/shutterstock.

Washington: Rattlesnake Ledge Trail

Where: Snoqualmie Region, North Bend Area

Distance: 4-mile loop

Must see: Catch a view of Cedar River, Mount Si and Mount Washington on this high-altitude hike. If you are feeling ambitious, climb up a little bit further to the upper ledge to get even better views.

Image Credit: Richard A McMillin/shutterstock.

Washington, D.C.: Billy Goat Trail

Where: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal

Distance: 8-mile loop

Must see: One of the most popular hikes in the District sits alongside the Potomac river, with plenty of overlooks. The trail is divided into three parts by level of difficulty, so there’s sure to be something for everyone. If you make it to the end, you can enjoy lunch at the delicious Old Angler’s Inn.

Image Credit: Guillermo Olaizola/shutterstock.

West Virginia: Endless Wall Trail

Where: New River Gorge National River

Distance: 2.7-mile loop

Must see: The overlook at Diamond Point provides great views of the West Virginia vista. But don’t be afraid to look down the 1,000-foot cliff — the beauty of the New River Gorge below beats out any view.

Image Credit: CathyRL/shutterstock.

Wisconsin: Ice Age Trail

Where: Devil’s Lake State Park

Distance: 7.5-mile loop

Must see: Hike to the top of a 500-foot bluff to get a panoramic view of Devil’s Lake, and view other landmarks such as Devil’s Doorway and Balanced Rock.

Image Credit: Kris Wiktor/shutterstock.

Wyoming: Cascade Canyon Trail

Where: Grand Teton National Park

Distance: Around 6 miles, depending on the loop

Must see: On the top of the 200-foot Hidden Falls sits Inspiration Point, which looks out over Jenny Lake and the east side of the park. If you are feeling adventurous, continue on the trail to the Cathedral Group peaks, with a breathtaking view.

Looking for more ways to explore? Check out this state-by-state guide to the best local towns to visit.

This article originally appeared on Policygenius and was syndicated by

Image Credit: Courtesy of National Park Service.