Melissa Gaskill Austin, TX
Melissa logged 300 trail miles last year while researching her guidebook, Best Hikes with Dogs: Texas Hill Country and Gulf Coast. Favorite hike Twin Peaks Trail, Hill Country State Natural Area, TX
Steve Johnson Dennison, MN Favorite hike North Country Trail through Porcupine Lakes Wilderness Area, WI
Charlie Williams Tulsa, OK Favorite hike Ozark Highlands National Recreation Trail, AR
1. Weekend: North Country Trail
This easy 6.4-mile point-to-point runs the length of the Rainbow Lake Wilderness. Camp at Lake Bufo and listen for wolves.
2. Wildlife: Craig Lake SP
Pack binocs and hit the unnamed (but maintained) seven-mile trail around the lake—a watering hole for loons, bears, and moose.
3. Best week: Superior Hiking Trail
Sample the SHT on a 67-miler from Gooseberry Falls to the Caribou River. This weeklong highlight reel features piney ridgetop views of Lake Superior, cascading rivers, and a string of lakes with primo camping.
4. Favorite falls hike: Richland Creek Wilderness Pick up Richland Creek Trail near the campground on FR 1205 and hike two miles to the 100-foot-wide, 8-foot-tall Richland Falls. From here, swing north .5 mile to Twin Falls’ dual 20-foot cascades.
5. Best campsite: Ouachita NF
Four miles in on the Little Missouri Trail, a bluff overlooks turquoise pools on the Little Missouri River. 6. Best views: Guadalupe Mountains NP
Summit the region’s highest peak—8,749-foot Guadalupe Peak. The 8.4-mile round-trip hike skirts limestone cliffs and juniper-studded hillsides. On top, get views of salt flats and a chain of neighboring 8,000-footers.
Best basecamp: Big Bend NP
Link the Pinnacles and Boot Canyon Trails for a 4.5-mile hike to backcountry sites near 7,825-foot Emory Peak.