In 1968, the United States government passed the National Trails System Act, which created some of the most pristine hiking trails across North America. Now, in 2018, both the National Parks System and Google are celebrating the legislation’s 50th anniversary by encouraging people to get outside and experience the more than 50,000 miles of trails across the U.S. for themselves.
To help would-be hikers get on their way, Google compiled a list of the top 10 trending parks and trails around the country. From sea to shining sea, here are the places everyone should lace up their hiking boots for during this epic celebration.
Watkins Glen State Park, New York
Watkins Glen State Park is the place to be if you’re after a waterfall viewing adventure. Within a two-mile stretch, the park’s stream opens up and creates 19 stunning waterfalls along the way. To get even more from the water, visitors are invited to go fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek. Day passes and overnight camping are also available.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park, located just 75 miles from Washington, DC, makes for the perfect day trip to get out of the hustle and bustle of city life. There, hikers can take full advantage of the park’s trails that meander through 200,000 untouched acres of woodland. For those looking to spend even more time in the park’s gorgeous outdoor scenery, backcountry camping passes are available. Even better, Shenandoah is one of the best national parks to experience fall foliage.
Horseshoe Bend, Arizona
Horseshoe Bend may be one of the most easily recognizable names on this list as it’s also one of the most photographed parks in the nation as well. And really, who could blame people for wanting to snap a few photos to share on social media? On the hike to the Horseshoe Bend Overlook, visitors will get a glimpse of the Colorado River’s natural bend from more than 1,000 feet above the water’s surface. Just make sure to get there as early as possible since the viewing area is a rather popular destination.
The Broadmoor Seven Falls, Colorado
Seven Falls is one of those destinations that will leave visitors in awe for days after a visit. And, with two ways to experience it, everyone can get in on the action. At the falls, visitors can choose to either hike the 224 steps to the top of the falls for an unprecedented close up of the waterfall itself or choose to take the in-mountain elevator to the Eagle's Nest for an easier viewing experience. Either way, it’s worth it.
Discovery Park, Washington
Boasting 534 acres, Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest city park. There, guests can take in the views along the Magnolia Bluff, get a glimpse of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges, run through the untouched meadowlands and more. And, because of its proximity to the city, it makes for the perfect escape any day of the week.
Stone Mountain Park, Georgia
Stone Mountain Park is the ideal family outdoor getaway as it caters to nature-lovers of all ages. At the park, visitors can explore thousands of acres of woodland on its plethora of hiking trails, and take part in several yearly events including the Yellow Daisy Festival and the Native American Festival and Pow-Wow. Overnight camping sites are available, or guests can stay onsite at the Marriott Stone Mountain Inn or Evergreen Marriott resort.
Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio
Hocking Hills State Park gives visitors something a little extra. That’s because it’s not just one park, but rather a grouping of seven separate areas: Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Conkle's Hollow, Old Man's Cave, Rock House and Whispering Cave. Each area offers distinct rock formations, hikes and views, making it a great place to explore for days on end. Overnight camping is available, along with glamping and even a few tree houses.
Golden Gardens, Washington
Though located close to Discovery Park in Seattle, Golden Gardens offers an experience all its own. There, guests can walk along the park’s coastline, go fishing from its own pier, or even launch their boat off the park’s 300 feet of shoreline. The best part? Golden Gardens welcomes dogs to accompany their human friends in an off-leash area in the upper part of the park as well.
Monument Valley, Utah
If you’re looking for wide open spaces with blue skies for days, Monument Valley in Utah is for you. With vast valleys and dazzling rock formations, the unique landscape of the park must be seen to be believed. There, guests can hike alone to visit some of its main interest points or work with a Navajo guide to get to know the region even deeper. Overnight campsites are available and come highly recommended so you can experience the Utah sky at night as well.
The Appalachian Trail, Georgia to Maine
The Appalachian Trail has long been a favorite among serious hikers. Though the trek from Georgia to Maine is certainly worth putting on your bucket list, you can still experience sections of the trail as single day trip.
First, hikers have to pick a state in which they’d like to journey through, pick a section, and get going. But, no matter where you decide to hike, consider joining the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to help protect the treasured hike for generations to come.