Why dream of an island paradise when you can actually hike it? We found 12 wild islands where you can paddle or backpack for days in the company of seals, wolves, and wild horses.
Kick off your boots, lie back, and let the sand gather between your toes. A breeze is blowing off the water, taming the sun’s warmth to a perfect napping temperature. Before your eyelids surrender, peer down the coastline. Not a soul in sight.
You’re on a wild island.
When you wake from your nap and resume hiking, you’ll find there’s more to these islands than sun and surf. Father Time moves leisurely here, as if he’s strolling barefoot in the sand. Small?some are just a day’s hike end-to-end?a wild island is more knowable, more intimate than a deep forest or endless mountain range can ever be.
What follow are the best backcountry islands in North America. Here you can hike coastal paths, wander for hours collecting shells, feel the ground tremble under the hooves of wild horses, and stride trails stitched together with wolf tracks. Or simply find a spot along the shore, sit, and stare out at the blue horizon. Pick your island and cast off now.