Best Hiking Trails Outside of Alaska

MountainsWhen you’re just starting out on your first hiking adventures, you look forward to the challenges but you also want to know that you’ll be safe and that you’ll be able to cope with the terrain, the conditions and the skills required for the sport.

This country is teeming with some of the world’s most amazing hiking trails, some for beginners and others for extreme sports enthusiasts. Even if you’re a beginner, there is plenty to see and lots to experience, from mountains and oceans to waterfalls and snowfields. Here are just a few ideas.

If you’re looking for ocean vistas and gently sloping hills, you’ll find them in Maine where the hiking trails range from the seriously easy to the very serious. For country atmosphere, start in Augusta where the Nature Education Center welcomes beginners to their five miles of hiking trails through 175 acres of woods. Wind your way through picturesque streams and meadows and inhale that fresh air as you explore the network. The Center is located a mere ten minutes from downtown Augusta yet is filled with the sounds of nature instead of the noise of the city. The trails are regularly maintained and updated and maps are available, making this a very pleasant and easy to navigate area indeed.

Take the kids along with you for exhilarating oceanside hiking trails on the southern coast, near Biddeford Pool. The trail itself is an easy hike and the ocean looms magnificently as you make your way through trees and shrubbery then around the perimeter of the local golf course. Be vigilant and keep your eyes peeled for poison ivy but also look forward to spotting the Wood Island Lighthouse. The terrain is at times grassy and other times rocky and if you like the idea of paddling a little in the ocean, take along suitable attire.


Don’t miss Lake Tahoe‘s hiking trails for cold weather expeditions. Trudging through snow can be a challenge even for experienced hikers so be sure to drop into the visitors’ center and grab maps and up-to-the-minute weather reports. To avoid hazards, the best time to hike here is when snow is at a minimum. There are some wonderful hikes designed for families to take together and while there is some uphill walking involved, you can take your time and go at your own pace.


Puu Pia Trail is Oahu’s easiest so it’s perfect for beginners. At just 2.4 miles, it’s a great way to test your endurance if you’re really unfit or just want to try hiking as an alternative to sweating it out in the gym. Why would you use a treadmill when you can experience an emerald green hiking trail under brilliant sunshine?


For sparkling waterfalls and hiking trails that are well marked and maintained, Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlands Park offers fifty miles of hiking enjoyment, complete with bobcats, bears and coyotes for company. Beginners are welcome and guided tours are very popular.


While Grand Teton National Park boasts 200 miles of hiking trails of varying degrees of intensity, beginners can happily while away some time exploring Lake Solitude and other beautiful attractions. Spot a brown bear family or seek out the sparkling waterfalls. Be mindful of the weather here because it can change with unnerving irregularity.

How to Choose Hiking Boots

Hiking BootsYou wouldn’t wear stilettos to play tennis any more than you would wear gumboots to a cocktail party. Similarly, you wouldn’t wear flip flops for on rugged terrain or hiking boots for a day out at the beach. It’s also important that if you’re going hiking, you buy the right kind of boots, specifically designed for the task.

Hiking is a challenging sport. It makes demands on your body as well as your mind and the last thing you need when you’re out in the middle of nowhere is to have your hiking boots fall apart or be entirely uncomfortable. You need something durable and long-lasting, a boot that can go the distance with you and even be in better condition than you are when you arrive! If you don’t take care of your feet, your hiking days will be numbered.

Considering the hugely varied terrains you’ll encounter when hiking, your footwear needs to be suitable for wet, dry, sharp, flat, hot and cold. Hiking boots are manufactured from materials that can stand up to these conditions and they are designed not only to protect your feet but to help you to walk long distances in comfort.

To adequately support the feet, hiking boots have to be quite stiff and they should also be shaped so that they support the ankles because twists are common, especially when walking on ground that is uneven or steeply sloping downward.

When shopping for your new hiking boots, it might be advisable to visit a store that specializes in this kind of equipment. You’ll get good quality for your money and the store staff will be able to advise you on the right type. Reading a few hiking boot reviews before you go is also very much recommended.

And don’t forget to wear thick socks! It’s no good having them fit when wearing business socks if you’ll be wearing extra thick socks when it matters most.

Where you intend to hike will have a bearing on the kind of hiking boots you buy. They’re available in lightweight for one or two day trips on easy terrain, mid weight for slightly rougher terrain and trips of around three days, extended for moderate to challenging terrain and mountaineering for challenging to extreme terrain. The two latter versions are also compatible with most snow shoes.

Your hiking boots also have to take into account the weight of the load you will be carrying. For a single day outing where you carry a small, light backpack containing lunch and snacks, you need something softer and lighter but for a heavier backpack and a longer trip, your boots should feature a stiffer mid sole and insole to ensure your feet are adequately supported.

Buying waterproof hiking boots is a good idea even if you don’t intend to go hiking near lakes, streams and ponds. Keep in mind that long grasses can be damp and wherever you go, there could be mud from a recent rainfall. Never use waterproofing waxes or sprays because they affect the boots’ ‘breathability’. Waterproof boots are already treated and so do not need an extra layer.

The most important consideration when buying hiking boots is comfort. You could buy the most expensive, biggest brand name boots in the world but if they are not comfortable on your feet, you won’t be hiking far. And make sure that before you embark on any trips, you wear your boots in for a few weeks to increase your familiarity and comfort.

Essential Hiking Gear

Hiking GearLet’s face it, when you’re on a hiking expedition, life is not exactly as it is back home. But you do still have to – at least to some extent – wash, eat, sleep and travel. Your hiking gear can mean a pleasurable trip, or it can mean a miserable one, so going for quality over and above cool trends, cheap prices and your favorite color can make all the difference.

Number one on the list of hiking gear for any enthusiast is a backpack. Without it, you’d be lugging around suitcases, plastic bags and carts and you know that’s impossible. A backpack has to fit everything you want to take with you, it has to be tough, easy to pack and unpack, lightweight for you to carry and offer some protection from the elements. They range from around $50 for a daypack to several hundred dollars for a serious hiking backpack for mountainous country or long trips.

Where you lay your head to sleep is just as important as the kind of boots you wear during the day. In extreme conditions, you want to be sure that you’ll be protected from high or low temperatures, not to mention inquisitive wildlife. A tent and sleeping bag are vital if you intend to be gone for more than a day or two. Beyond that, heavy or light duty depends on the places you visit and the weather while there. Comfort at night can never be underestimated when you spend your days walking countless miles, carrying a load on your back. Tents and sleeping bags make up a vital part of a person’s hiking gear inventory and can be expensive or inexpensive but must always serve the purpose well.

You can pack plenty of trail food for your expedition but at some point, many hikers want the comfort of a hot, cooked meal. Usually, an open fire is the easiest and most enjoyable way to get one but there are times when cooking equipment has to be taken along. There are plenty of camp stoves, some of which use compressed fuel, others that use liquid or alcohol fuel. Again, the kind of cooking equipment required depends on the destination and length of trip. Then there are the utensils, pots, plates, cups and cutlery to be considered; all very important hiking gear if you want to eat well.

When you’re unsure of the quality of water that will be available on your trip, you should do a good deal of research because you may need to take along full water containers at best, or water purification equipment at its most serious. Whether you take your five favorite books to read or just the barest essentials, your hiking gear must include adequate considerations for water.

Additionally, you might want to take along navigation equipment, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the region, plus lighting and communication equipment. Now you see that in order to carry all your hiking gear, your backpack should be able to cope with all you need to take so make sure you buy a good, sturdy one that won’t let you down