Views, foliage, on-trail highlights – these quick hiking trails offer some easy ways to get away from it all.
Great Head Trail [Acadia National Park, ME]
This 1.4-mile leisurely loop offers views of the craggy coastline of Acadia National Park around the perimeter of Great Head (located east of Sand Beach). At the tip of the peninsula, you’ll come upon the remains of a stone tea house that belonged to J.P. Morgan’s daughter before it was damaged in the Great Fire of 1947.
Best time: Spring – This is a high-traffic trail in summer because of Sand Beach’s popularity.
Cat Mountain Trail [Bolton Landing, NY]
There isn’t much to see but dense forest during this moderate three-and-a-half-mile ascent, but be patient; the 1,956-foot summit offers the best view of southern Lake George, from the Tongue Mountain Range to the north to Buck Mountain to the south.
Best time: Fall – Maples, oaks, and birches put you smack dab in a sea of fiery reds and oranges during foliage season.
Maiden’s Cliff Trail [Camden, ME]
This mile-long trail starts out gently, traveling through woods and past a massive glacial boulder before heading uphill just past the halfway mark. Be careful navigating the last section that runs along exposed ledges before ending atop the 800-foot cliff, which offers a great view of Lake Megunticook.
Best time: Fall – Red-tailed hawks often circle the summit during their annual migration this time of year.
Caladesi Island Nature Trail and Beach [Clearwater, FL]
This 2.3-mile path brings hikers out to the secluded and historic homestead of Henry Scharrer and his daughter, Myrtle, who lived on the island in the 1880s. As one of the few completely natural islands along the Gulf Coast, it’s perfect for sunbathers and beachcombers. Spot wildlife while hiking along the island’s interior or kayaking through the mangroves and bay.
Best time: Spring – You can rent a canoe or sport a suit for snorkeling.
The Coastal Hammock Trail [Fort Lauderdale, FL]
Tucked into Hugh Taylor Birch State Park lies a two-mile gentle hike by the area’s protected tropical hardwood hammock ecosystem. Listen to the 12-part Mid Trail Audio Tour on your cell phone to learn why a Chicago lawyer came to Florida to save the wildlife and why one plant gets the name the “Toothache Tree.”
Best time: Winter – Weekdays during a full moon, park rangers host private mangrove tours to witness the wildlife, like roosting birds and darting fish, in the pale blue moonlight.