7 Trails to Hike This Spring
With reasonable temps, gushing waterfalls and signs of nature coming back to life all around you, each of these seven hikes across the U.S. offers something special for everyone.
South Boulder Creek Trail to Mesa Trail to Big Bluestem TrailBoulder, Colo. 1 of 8
Level of difficulty: Easy
Length: 4.4-mile loop
Getting there: The South Boulder Creek trailhead is best accessed about .5 miles north of the intersection of Highway 93 and Eldorado Springs Drive. There is a pay parking lot just south of Thomas Lane near the trailhead. Please be advised that parking along Thomas Lane is not permitted.
Known locally as the South Boulder Creek Loop, you can tackle this family-friendly trail in either direction, and it's a great option for a trail run or easy hike.
Meandering along the foothills beneath the Flatiron Mountains, this trail offers great views of prominent peaks Devil's Thumb and South Peak. While exposed grasslands make up the majority of the loop, in the spring you can expect mild temperatures, but should it heat up or start to sprinkle, you have a few spots to catch some quick shade along the ponderosa pine forests.
In May you can expect to see wild irises along the upper Bluestem trail, creating a striking browns of the Flatirons.
Iron Mountain TrailPoway, Calif. 2 of 8
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Length: 5.8 miles round trip
Getting there: Take Highway 67 to Poway Road. Park along the gravel on the side of the highway.
If you're looking for a bit of a butt burner that you can do while holding a coffee and gossiping with your friends, then Iron Mountain is for you.
Located in inland San Diego, this trail is entirely exposed, so plan on setting out somewhat early to avoid the hot sun—and definitely bring some water. Popular among locals and tourists alike, certain trail sections will make you feel as though you're on a shopping mall escalator—but at least you won't get lost.
The scenery is high-desert beautiful—think sagebrush and distinct rock formations—and on a clear day you can see all the way to the ocean from the trail's highest peak. If the winter has seen enough rain, then springtime in San Diego is the perfect time to catch a few wildflowers on and around this trail as well.
Glacier Point to Panorama and Mist TrailsYosemite National Park, Calif. 3 of 8
Level of difficulty: Difficult
Length: 8.5 Miles one way
Getting there: Take Highway 140 to Wawona Road to Glacier Point Road (be advised that this road is closed during the winter months). The trailhead begins at the end of Glacier Point. There is a hikers' bus that drops you off at Glacier Point.
One of dozens of astoundingly beautiful trails in Yosemite National Park, Glacier Point is usually not accessible before mid to late spring depending on snow levels.
This beautiful trail offers you the best Yosemite has to offer: Half Dome, Sentinel Dome, Vernal Fall and Panorama Point Vista just to name a few. Plus, you'll get a chance fora close-up view of Illilouette Fall as you make your way through eastern Yosemite Valley.
This trail isn't for the faint of heart—there are a lot of downhill switchbacks as well as very steep sections to climb before you descend into the iconic Yosemite Valley. But the beauty is second to none, so make sure you have a camera with you for this all-day hike, as well as plenty of water and food.
Eagle Creek TrailColumbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Ore. 4 of 8
Level of difficulty: Easy to moderate
Length: 12 miles out and back (with shorter options)
Getting there: Take Interstate 84 to Eagle Creek exit 41, turn right and follow the road until you reach parking area. Be advised that this parking lot fills up by 10 a.m. and you'll have to park further back along the road.
No trip to the Columbia River Gorge area is complete without a hike along the Eagle Creek Trail. The full 12-mile route, which starts at Eagle Creek Campground, will take you all the way to Tunnel Falls (and beyond if you'd like), but it's absolutely worth the effort. Expect to see hundreds of different varieties of wildflowers in the spring, including balsamroot, lupine and camas lilies, along with more green that you thought possible.
Don't miss trail segues to Punchbowl Falls if you have the inclination and bring a change of clothes for impromptu swimming hole forays. There aren't any steep sections to deal with on this trail. However, it is a very popular route and it can be slippery and wet, so use caution and pack accordingly.
Mt. Washburn TrailYellowstone National Park, Wyo. 5 of 8
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7 miles
Getting there: Take Canyon Junction to Dunraven Pass to a parking head near the trailhead.
A true summit hike with panoramic views of Yellowstone National Park, the Mount Washburn Trail is a popular choice for park visitors. It's steep to be sure, but if you're in good shape, you won't find it too difficult.
The trail is notoriously windy at the top, so bring an extra layer or two for the ascent. On a good day, you can see more than 50 miles in every direction, including Tower Falls and Cascade Lake, and in the spring, beautiful purple and yellow flowers dot the switchbacks as you make your way to the top.
Pemetic Mountain Loop TrailAcadia National Park, Maine 6 of 8
Level of difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Length: 6 miles round trip (but can be longer or shorter depending on which trailhead you use)
Getting there: The trail to the top of Pemetic Mountain can be accessed from Bubble Pond, Bubble Mountains parking area, and from the Jordan Pond parking area.
This beautiful Northeastern trail usually doesn't open until April, and if you choose to tackle this trail before the warm summer months, you can expect chilly conditions at the top. However, if you plan your hike well enough, you can make it to the top just in time to see the sunrise before everyone else in the country.
This loop is really a series of trails looped together, so make sure to bring a map and get your bearings before you begin. You'll begin your trek at Jordan Pond before taking the Carry Trail and Bubble Divide to the Pemetic NW Trail, which is where the lion's share of your ascent begins.
Pemetic Mountain Loop is composed of sharp granite faces, making it somewhat of a technical climb and definitely not for newbies. At the top of Pemetic Mountain, you'll be treated to views of several ponds, lakes, islands and mountains throughout Acadia National Park before making your way back down via the Pemetic South Ridge Trail.
Rocky Top Summit along Anthony Creek TrailGreat Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn. 7 of 8
Level of difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Length: 14 miles roundtrip
Getting there: The trailhead is located at the Cades Cove picnic area, which can be reached by taking Laurel Creek Road and following the signs for the Cades Cove Campground.
A great springtime option, the Anthony Creek Trail will take you past long stretches of rhododendron that can get thick enough to completely cover the trail in spots.
This trail also intersects with the Appalachian Trail near Spence Field, at which point you'll have some stunning views of the North Carolina side of the Great Smoky Mountains, which—if you're there at the right time of the year—is covered in soft pink and white flowers and bright green grasses.
Rocky Top Summit is located atop a fairly steep 550-foot pitch, but once you're there, you'll be rewarded with fantastic views of neighboring Bote Mountain, Fontana Lake and Knoxville, Tenn.