7 Unforgettable Summer Hikes (And What To Bring)
Citrus Hiking LoopWithlacoochee State Forest, Fla. 1 of 8
A favorite for backpackers training for long-distance hikes, the Citrus Hiking Loop is a series of various looped trails that cover more than 40 miles throughout the Withlacoochee State Forest in west central Florida.
You'll find palm trees, marshes, rolling hills, boardwalk bridges and varieties of Cypress along this hike, but you'll also run into plenty of mosquitos. These popular trails are open to horseback riders and bikers, so keep an eye out as you stroll and be courteous if you meet them.
Don't Forget: Heading out on a day hike in Florida without bug spray is a bad idea, no matter what time of year. If you want to avoid strong chemical repellents with DEET, try a more natural yet effective repellent like Buzz Away Extreme Deet-Free Insect Repellant. It's made with essential plant oils like geranium, citronella and lemongrass to repel mosquitos, ticks, gnats, flies and fleas. The combination of essential oils also smells much better than your typical bug spray and is gentle on skin.
Where to buy Buzz Away.
Siphon Draw TrailLost Dutchman State Park, Ariz. 2 of 8
This steep, somewhat rocky trail is best done in the early morning hours due to high temperatures, but the views at the top of Flat Iron are well worth it. Located about an hour east of Phoenix in the Superstition Mountains, you'll be awed by the red and orange rock formations—especially the Flat Iron itself, which is the size of a football field—as well as the views all the way to Phoenix and Scottsdale.
This rocky wash trail climbs a solid 2,400 feet in a little over 2.5 miles, so wear sturdy shoes and keep your wits about you on the way down. For some extra fun, stop by the Goldfield Ghost Town on your way back from the hike for some spooky history about the area's once-booming mining industry.
Don't forget: Along with plenty of water, make sure to bring a broad-spectrum, sweat-resistant sunscreen to protect your skin from that desert sun.
Elwodsen TrailBig Sur, Calif. 3 of 8
There's no shortage of beautiful trails in Northern California, but if you have to pick just one, Elwodsen Trail along the Big Sur coastline will not disappoint. You'll cross streams, pass by a few waterfalls and stride under redwoods for the first part of this six-mile hike before heading up a beautiful ridge overlooking the ocean.
This hike starts by following along a river and gives you multiple opportunities to cross via fallen redwoods (with caution, of course), giving you the ultimate Northern California hiking experience. Make sure to take the fork to the right about halfway through the hike in order to make it up the vista to the ocean view—and have your camera ready.
Don't forget: A trail like this goes from shaded to bright sunlight pretty quickly, so a good pair of polarized sunglasses will help protect your eyes from the glare while keeping you stylish.
Hoh River Trail to Five Mile IslandOlympic Peninsula, Wash. 4 of 8
This is a classic Pacific Northwest hike filled with green mosses, chilly streams, evergreens, the Olympic Mountains and maybe even a few elk, if you're lucky. With little elevation change, this is a great hike for all abilities with turnaround points at several spots, for a total length of up to 10.6 miles round-trip.
Pack a lunch and stop at Five Mile Island for a great picnic spot with views of Bogachiel Peak. And if you get stuck in a rainstorm (which is always possible in Washington), head to the Happy Four Shelter at the trail turnaround to wait it out.
Don't Forget: It's a good rule of thumb to never head outdoors in the Pacific Northwest without a solid rain jacket to avoid getting a surprise soaking while out on the trails.
Breakneck RidgeHudson River Valley, N.Y. 5 of 8
One of the most popular trails in the country, the Breakneck Ridge Loop is both challenging and scenic. At just under three miles, what this hike lacks in length it makes up for in steepness. Be prepared to scramble over slippery boulders using all four limbs as you make your way up and around the Hudson Highlands.
Once you make it to the top of the ridgeline, sit down for a moment and take in the panoramic views. There is an alternative, less challenging route to this trail, so if you're not into technical climbing, keep a look out for X's on the trail, which mark the easiest path up.
Don't Forget: Even though this is a relatively short hike, the terrain does call for more than a simple sneaker. Choose a sturdy, waterproof (or waterproofed) hiking boot with superior traction to help you scramble up the rocks with ease.
Little Missouri TrailAlbert Pike Recreation Area, Ark. 6 of 8
This gem of a hiking and mountain biking trail features waterfalls, an abundance of wildlife and plenty of shaded canopies to help keep you cool during those hot southern summers. Located in the Albert Pike Recreation Area, this 15-mile point-to-point trail is flat and non-technical, offering plenty of opportunities to loop back and create a trail of whatever length you choose (the full length of this trail also includes the Eagle Rock Loop Trail).
The route follows the Little Missouri River, with creek crossings and views of the Cossatot Mountains along the way. You'll pass by a few swimming holes as well, so pack your suit and jump in to cool off before continuing your hike. There are also several places to refill your water bottle at one of the various picnic and camping spots along the trail.
Don't Forget: If you don't want to bring a change of clothes but might want to take a dip, simply wear a pair of quick-drying hiking shorts so you don't have to worry about keeping dry at creek crossings and swimming holes
Twin Falls/Sculpture Garden TrailsBarton Creek Greenbelt, Texas 7 of 8
A summer hiking mainstay in Austin, this trail features plenty of scenery and chances to cool off in Barton Creek. Just minutes from downtown Austin, this 8-mile trail follows Barton Creek from Zilker Park to Scottish Woods and only has one real hill (appropriately called the Hill of Life) at about the halfway point.
The rest of the trail is a mix of (sometimes muddy) terrain passing high limestone cliffs, live oaks and plenty of swimming holes. Don't miss Sculpture Falls—a beautiful spot complete with an old-fashioned rope swing. Spring often brings plenty of rain to Texas, so come summer, the swimming holes should be full and jam-packed with people eager to beat the heat. There are also several great opportunities to rent a paddleboard or kayak along the route.
Don't Forget: If ever there was a trail calling for a quality pair of water shoes, this is it. Some of the swimming holes and surrounding trails can be quite rocky and slippery, and it's nice to be able to keep your shoes on the entire time instead of constantly pulling them off and on each time you want to take a dip.