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Seven Great National Park Hikes

Seven Great National Park Hikes

Stretch your legs along some of Mother Nature's most invigorating landscapes.

The next time you feel the need to get away from your busy practice (and who doesn't?), why not unwind on a trail through some of America's greatest natural beauty? The National Park Service boasts nearly 400 parks, so chances are a great hike is within a short drive of your home, office or the site of your next conference. Here are seven can't-miss choices to explore:

1 Cliff Palace Hike (Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado) More than 700 years ago, Pueblo Indians built sandstone dwellings into the cliffs of what is now Mesa Verde National Park. The largest dwelling in the park is Cliff Palace, where some 100 residents once lived among 150 rooms and 23 kivas (ceremonial structures).

2 Greenstone Ridge Trail (Isle Royale National Park, Michigan) Anyone who thinks lakes are a poor man's ocean hasn't seen Lake Superior or, more particularly, Lake Superior as viewed from this 40-mile trail on Isle Royal. Deep forests yield to spectacular water views (and don't be surprised if a moose wanders by).

3 Kilauea Iki Trail (Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii) A three-hour hike takes you from verdant rainforests into a blackened, still-steaming crater at this national park located on Kauai. The undulating lava rock--like seeing history frozen in time--serves as a moving reminder of the Earth's enormous power.

4 Mist Trail (Yosemite National Park, California) Breathtaking waterfalls blanket this trail with enough water vapor to make you feel like you're walking through a dream. The Mist Trail is one of the more spectacular--and accessible--trails in Yosemite. Along the way, you'll see the granite Half Dome and the famous Liberty Cap.

5 Old Rag Trail (Shenandoah National Park, Virginia) The circuit hike on Virginia's Old Rag Mountain stretches some nine miles and includes plenty of rocky elevation changes and stretches in the sun. Whatever sweat and effort you expend is paid back in full, in some of the most gorgeous mountain vistas in the East.

6 Willow Pond Trail (Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia) For an exclusive expedition, consider being one of just 300 guests per day permitted onto the Cumberland Island National Seashore--accessible only by ferry. Your efforts will be rewarded with wild horses, empty beaches and three distinct ecosystems.

7 South Kaibab Trail (Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona) This trail is among the more spectacular offerings at the Grand Canyon National Park. While Mother Nature provides the visual thrills of rugged terrain and brilliant light, a recently completed trail reconstruction project ensures the passage doesn't become too rugged.


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