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4 American hiking trails for beginners

best hiking trails
Hiking is a great activity that allows you to escape the stress of university. Source: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Yes, you should get on the US’s best hiking trails and as many of them as you can while studying here.

Your host country is not just home to big cities but parkland too — acres and acres of beauty you shouldn’t miss.

Because let’s face it, studying abroad can be stressful. Based on a US study, as many as 88% of students reported high-stress levels over exams and money.

Going outdoors can help. And hiking is considered one of the best ways to escape this reality, quiet your mind and disconnect from the world — at least for a while.

If solitude’s not your top goal, you can go on hiking trails with a friend or two. You can either find friends who are already hikers or those who are keen on trying it out.

Some universities even have clubs established for hiking enthusiasts. Columbia University’s Hiking Club organises day hikes and camping trips throughout the year for its members.

Never hiked before? No problem. As hiking is one of the easiest sports, you won’t feel out of place or out of breath.

Plus, the US is home to many hiking trails, and many are suitable for first-timers. 

If you’re new to hiking and not sure where to begin, here are four of the best and easiest hiking trails you should explore: 

hiking trails

Horseshoe Bend is a popular horseshoe-shaped incised meander of the Colorado River. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP

Horseshoe Bend, Page, Arizona

Located near the town of Page in Arizona is one of the most photographed places in the US with the cutest name: Horseshoe Bend.

It’s not only popular for its beautiful desert view, but it is also one of the easiest hikes. The trail is only a 0.75-mile long one-way and is mainly flat all around. 

From the parking lot to the Horshoe Bend’s overlook and back, the whole hike can be completed in about an hour. While easy, be prepared for plenty of sand and no shade. 

These, coupled with the extremely hot temperatures in Arizona, can make the trail slightly challenging. So don’t forget to bring water with you to stay hydrated throughout.

For this reason, many tourists visit the site in the morning before the day’s heat or in the evening to catch the breathtaking sunset. 

Twin Falls Trail in North Bend, Washington 

The Twin Falls Trail is one of the best hiking trails in Washington state. This gorgeous waterfall got its name as it was two side-by-side 200ft plunges at a split in the Snake River. 

The three-mile track with an elevation of 500 feet is one of the easiest, especially for beginners. 

Located in the small town of North Bend, Washington, just 45 minutes from Seattle, this is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of city and university life. 

Featuring a beautiful green river and mossy trees, this hiking trail can be enjoyed all year round. At the trail’s end, you’ll reach a platform with stairs to marvel at the Twin Falls waterfall. 

best hiking trails

Glacier National Park is a popular American national park located in northwestern Montana. Source: Brendan Smialowski/AFP

Baring Falls Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

Another easy beginner hike is the Baring Falls Trail, located in Glacier National Park. Suitable for all skill levels, this track stretches slightly over two miles and is mostly flat ground throughout.

This hiking trail offers a spectacular view of Saint Mary Lake. It is recommended to visit the park in the summer as the snow does not melt till July.

As you continue down the path after the falls, it will take you to the lake that is perfect for dipping your toes in during the summer. 

However, as this is a popular destination, the park can get crowded, so it is best to visit early in the morning or during the week. 

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary Trail, Naples, Florida

If you are looking for a hike that is not only easy but filled with animals as well, then Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is the trail for you.

Located in the western Everglades of Florida, this hiking trail is just a 30-minute drive from Naples. From alligators to deer, egrets and turtles, the track is filled with Florida’s wildlife.  

Renowned as one of the best and easiest hiking trails in the state, this nearly three-mile hike can be completed by trekkers of all levels.

While the sanctuary can be visited all year round, it is best to visit during the summer as the wildlife is more abundant. Come prepared with water, sunscreen, insect repellent, and binoculars.

Must-have safety gear before going on the US’s best hiking trails

Before you start hiking, here are some safety gear you should prepare.

‘The Ten Essentials” is a packing list that was designed to ensure hikers are prepared for an emergency situation. The list includes:

  • A navigation system like Google Maps or a compass
  • A headlamp for hiking after dark, and don’t forget extra batteries
  • Sunscreen to protect you from the sun
  • A first aid kit in case any injuries occur
  • A pocket knife 
  • Fire-starting equipment in case you need to spend the night in the woods
  • Extra food like granola bars
  • Extra water to stay hydrated, especially when hiking in the summer
  • Extra clothes as the weather can be unpredictable 
  • Shelter such as a sleeping bag or small tent