By Lynn O’Rourke Hayes
Pick up a copy of National Geographic’s 100 Trails, 5,000 Ideas (2023) to inspire your next adventure. The guide offers routes for every experience level, suggestions for off-trail activities and convenient places to stay. Here are five destinations to consider:
San Juan Islands, Washington
Venture to the picturesque islands you’ll find between Puget Sound and Vancouver Island for a landscape that offers adventures for every appetite. From easy rambles to challenging routes, there is much to discover on San Juan and Orcas islands. For example, Bell Point Trail, on San Juan Island, loops within 2 miles, meandering through woods and along the edge of Garrison Bay. Extend the hike along a short spur trail and enjoy a sea-to-table lunch at Wescott Bay Seafood Company, located just outside the National Historic Park boundary. Consider a stay at Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes where cabins, lodge rooms, yurts and RV hookups offer choices at various price points.
Mickelson Trail, South Dakota
Join the likes of Calamity Jane, Wyatt Earp, Crazy Horse and Custer by spending some time on the historic George S. Mickelson Trail that cuts through the heart of the Black Hills. Carve out your own piece of the 109-mile rail trail that includes four stone tunnels and more than 100 bridges as it passes through highland meadows and towering stands of ponderosa pine trees. Whistler Gulch Campground—with tent sites, RV hookups and cabins near Deadwood—is a convenient overnight stop for those beginning or ending their experience at this juncture.
Paul Bunyan Trail, Minnesota
It’s not just for hikers or bikers. It’s a 120-mile recreational path that also attracts skaters, snow-shoers, snowmobilers and naturalists, all eager to enjoy the woods and watery wonderland of north central Minnesota. Explorers using manual and electric wheelchairs can also travel the nation’s longest accessible trail. Families might want to include a visit to Paul Bunyan Land, a vintage amusement park that offers a miniature train, carnival rides, a pioneer village and a giant-sized lumberjack.
For more: www.PaulBunyanTrail.com
Wild Azalea Trail, Louisiana
Flower lovers, this trail is for you. Pull your boots on March through May and access Louisiana’s longest wilderness trail. Within 27 miles, you’ll have the chance to smell, admire and photograph the namesake flowers as you hike within the Evangeline district of the Kisatchie National Forest. The city of Lafayette offers a more urban version of the azalea journey that can be hiked, biked or driven. The 25-mile Lafayette Historic Azalea Trail zig-zags through residential neighborhoods, parks and front yards, immersing visitors in the colorful glory of the famous flowers.
For more: www.TownofWoodsworth.com
The High Line, New York
It’s a modern park that brings smiles to those who venture along the 1.5-mile vintage railroad viaduct that stretches from Hell’s Kitchen/Hudson Yards at 34th street to the Meatpacking District at Gansevoort Street. Hikers experience an invigorating blend of art, architecture, green spaces, people watching, wildflowers and views of the Big Apple. After working up an appetite, pop into the Chelsea Market for gelato, chowder, doughnuts and a seemingly endless array of tasty treats.
For more: www.TheHighline.org
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