I’ve explored a lot of National Parks in the past. I have previously mentioned how I went on seven cross-country road trips and did a whole lot of hiking and camping in the parks on those trips. I’ve also mentioned more than once that my wife and I are now raising two kids. We have still done our share of travel, but that has mostly included cruising and trips to Florida. We are on a bit of a hiatus from National Park adventures. I miss the National Parks, but we’re in no hurry to take the kids on very long flights or drives. In a couple more years I plan on being back out west.
Just because I haven’t been hiking and exploring National Parks in a while doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about them. Writing for this blog has been a great outlet for that. I really enjoy writing about hikes, National Parks, and other travel topics. Communicating with other bloggers has been an added bonus.
Like I said, I may not be traveling to any parks soon, but that shouldn’t stop me from planning ahead. In that regard I have compiled a list of the Top Ten Hikes on my wish list. Several of these are trails are in parks I’ve already visited, and a few are in ones that I have yet to make it to. I haven’t hiked any of these trails yet, but I hope to eventually experience all of them.
*All photos are from NPS.gov (since I obviously haven’t been on these hikes yet)
10. Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park in Washington. This is a short an easy hike to a beautiful waterfall. It is less than two miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of around 300 feet. I wish I could have seen the waterfall when I went to Olympic, but there just wasn’t time. I packed in a lot in the short few days we were there.
9. Iceberg Lake, Glacier National Park in Montana. I’ve been to Glacier three times and I think the trail was closed due to bear activity on two of those visits. It’s located in the Many Glacier region of the park, which is home to some seriously amazing scenery. The hike is just under ten miles roundtrip and gains about 1,700 feet, so it’s not an easy one, but it should certainly be doable.
8. The Tall Trees Grove, Redwood National Park in California. I have yet to make it to Redwood N.P. It is high on my list though and I hope to be there within a few years. This is the top trail in the park as far as I can tell. It’s about four miles in length and climbs a few hundred feet. It weaves its way between some of the tallest trees on the planet.
7. The Fairyland Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. I’ve been to Bryce twice and hiked within Bryce Amphitheater each time, but I never made it out to the farther reaches where the Fairyland Loop is located. I absolutely loved hiking among the hoodoos, so I’m sure I’d love this hike. It’s about eight miles long and gains around 1,700 feet.
6. Cathedral Lakes Trail, Yosemite National Park in California. I’ve been to Yosemite twice, but haven’t spent too much time in the Tuolumne Meadows area of the park. It’s a long drive from the crowded valley, but that can be a good thing, too. I’d like to spend more time up there on my next visit and I’d definitely like to take on this trail. It’s about eight miles long with an elevation gain close to 1,600 feet.
5. Cascade Pass Trail, North Cascades National Park in Washington. I haven’t been to North Cascades yet, but the park looks awesome. Rugged terrain with pristine alpine lakes, mountain meadows, and few crowds. It sounds like Glacier National Park minus the crowds. I look forward to making my first visit and the Cascade Pass Trail looks like a great hike to start with. It’s about 7.5 miles roundtrip with 1,700 feet of elevation gained. It appears to have plenty of top-of-the-world views.
4. Amphitheater Lake, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Grand Teton is one of my all-time favorite places. I missed out on this hike in the past and am happy to let it give me a great reason to return. It’s going to be one of the more difficult day hikes on this list at 9.6 miles long with just under 3,000 feet gained. The trail leads deep into the heart of the Teton range. It doesn’t get much better than that.
3. The Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. Mount Rainier is high on my list of parks to visit. Trails like the Skyline are the reason why. After looking at some photos I can say that the hike looks amazing. It crosses mountain meadows, has views of a glacier and of course a great view of the hulking Rainier. The hike is about 5.5 miles roundtrip and gains around 1,700 feet in elevation.
2. Dawson Pass and Pitamakan Pass Loop, Glacier National Park in Montana. This is one of the amazing hikes in Glacier that I have not attempted yet. I’ve read about this and seen pictures and it looks incredible. Constant above treeline views, alpine meadows and lakes, multiple passes, just thinking about the hike gets me excited. However, it is around 17 miles long with an elevation gain of about 4,000 feet. That should certainly make this the most difficult hike on this list. If I think I can mentally handle the knife-edge ridges and my knees can handle the steep descents I will eventually find a way to tackle this trail.
1. Brooks Falls Trail, Katmai National Park in Alaska. This is the most popular trail in Katmai and for good reason. It leads to the popular Brooks Falls area where you can view Alaskan Brown Bears feasting on salmon in the Brooks River. I’ve seen photos and videos that have put this place atop my Bucket List. It may have to wait a while though, I’m not sure I want to bring my kids there especially if it requires a flight on a small float plane. Bear sightings on the trail are unsurprisingly common, too. The hike is only about two miles roundtrip with a minimal elevation gain.