Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Stories

25 Heat-Busting Hikes

Cool off this summer with these shade-filled trails and swimming holes.

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.


Go underground for chilly temperatures on a low-mileage dayhike in the Mt. St. Helens Lava Tube. Wander 1.75 miles through the lower and upper caves…

Go underground for chilly temperatures on a low-mileage dayhike in the Mt. St. Helens Lava Tube. Wander 1.75 miles through the lower and upper caves and return to the main entrance with a 1.25 mile trek above ground in Mt. St. Helens National Park. You’ll appreciate the walk above ground—the temperature in the tubes hovers in the low 40s year-round like an underground icebox. [image: Iwona Kellie/Flickr]

Head high for snowfields and glacial lakes, still cold in the dead heat of summer. Start at the 93-mile Wonderland Trail and hike up 3177 feet to the…

Head high for snowfields and glacial lakes, still cold in the dead heat of summer. Start at the 93-mile Wonderland Trail and hike up 3177 feet to the Panhandle Gap on Mount Rainier. At six miles in you’ll reach fields covered in snow well into August. Take a lunch break in a landscape covered in rock and ice before beginning your downward descent. [image: Pat Leary/Flickr]

Hit the beach and walk along the dunes on this secluded Lake Michigan walk. For an easy 9 miles, head toward Silver Creek from the Point Beach…

Hit the beach and walk along the dunes on this secluded Lake Michigan walk. For an easy 9 miles, head toward Silver Creek from the Point Beach entrance before turning back toward Molash Creek. Wind your way back to the water to catch the cooling lake effect breeze, nature’s natural air conditioning. [image: WIDNR/Flickr]

These waterfalls add some wet refreshment to the otherwise dry Arizona heat.  Check out the Seven Falls trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains for 7.8…

These waterfalls add some wet refreshment to the otherwise dry Arizona heat. Check out the Seven Falls trail in the Santa Catalina Mountains for 7.8 miles of refreshing water. Dip your feet in one of the several stream crossings along the way before taking the plunge in one of the fall’s pools. Get your clothes good and soaked for lasting refreshment as you head back the way you came. [image: USDA/Flickr]

While most of Houston stays inside with their air conditioning, venture outside and find solitude on this uncrowded path, splashing in lakes and…

While most of Houston stays inside with their air conditioning, venture outside and find solitude on this uncrowded path, splashing in lakes and streams as you walk. Start at trailhead #6 on the Lone Star Trail and walk a mere 0.7 miles for a quick dip in Lake Conroe. Walk another 3 miles to the Stubblefield Campground for another swim before turning back. Cool off one last time near the foot bridge just 2 miles from the parking lot. [image: Adrian Delgado 2012/Flickr]

Get into the woods and bypass over 30 ravines—some as much as 60 feet deep—on this 9-mile hike along the Conservation Trail in Holland, NY. Start at…

Get into the woods and bypass over 30 ravines—some as much as 60 feet deep—on this 9-mile hike along the Conservation Trail in Holland, NY. Start at Carpenter Road and follow the orange blazes to the endpoint at Savage Road for a shaded walk on this small chunk of a trail that stretches from NY’s PA border up into Canada. Take advantage of the steps and stairs to ease the challenge of navigating the plunging gorges. [image: Sebamirum/Flickr]

Hike above the heat to reach an elevation of 10,400 feet on the Bonanza Peak Trail at Mount Charleston. This 10-mile round-trip path winds through…

Hike above the heat to reach an elevation of 10,400 feet on the Bonanza Peak Trail at Mount Charleston. This 10-mile round-trip path winds through ponderosa pines and wildflowers to take you to views of the mountain’s surrounding peaks. Keep an eye out for the area’s wild horses—they may join you on your climb to coolness. [image: Chris M Morris/Flickr]

Chase the Rocky Mountain high to escape the heat on a path lined with waterfalls and alpine lakes. Spend your day on a 12.6 mile round-trip hike on…

Chase the Rocky Mountain high to escape the heat on a path lined with waterfalls and alpine lakes. Spend your day on a 12.6 mile round-trip hike on the Bluebird Lake trail in the Rocky Mountain National Park, accessible from the Wild Basin Trailhead. Climb almost 2,500 feet and relax by the pristine Bluebird Lake under the shadow of the cirque wall. [image: Alex Ford/Flickr]

Work your way from vista to creekside campsites while walking through the shaded George Washington National Forest. Start at Reeds Gap and follow the…

Work your way from vista to creekside campsites while walking through the shaded George Washington National Forest. Start at Reeds Gap and follow the white blazes to get started on this 12.3 mile loop along the Appalachian Trail. Cool down at one of the waterfalls or pools tucked within the woods lining the path. [image: Taber Andrew Bain/Flickr]

Trade in the Windy Cindy skyline for a walk through the dense forest along the Illinois River.  A 4.3 mile loop within Starved Rock State Park takes…

Trade in the Windy Cindy skyline for a walk through the dense forest along the Illinois River. A 4.3 mile loop within Starved Rock State Park takes you by multiple tumbling waterfalls. Not in the mood to get wet? Stay dry but cool under in the shade of the park’s sandstone cliffs. [image: Peddhapati/Flickr]

Follow the Little Miami River as it bursts through the narrow gorge. Hike along the lush, leafy trail for a 5.2 mile out-and-back trek along the…

Follow the Little Miami River as it bursts through the narrow gorge. Hike along the lush, leafy trail for a 5.2 mile out-and-back trek along the Clifton Gorge in John Bryan State Park. Keep an eye out for the blue herons that often frequent the river’s shallow banks on your walk along the water. [image: J Todd Poling/Flickr]

Take a quick drive from downtown Baltimore and work your way along a gentle stream toward the impressive Cascade Falls. A 3.1 mile loop through the…

Take a quick drive from downtown Baltimore and work your way along a gentle stream toward the impressive Cascade Falls. A 3.1 mile loop through the Orange Grove section of Patapsco Valley State Park takes you on a relaxing walk within the woods. Be sure to follow the trail all the way to the top of the falls. [image: Sneakerdog/Flickr]

Avoid Atlanta’s heat with a dayhike lined with lofting hemlocks. Take the Penitentiary Branch Trail for a 10.2 mile out-and-back hike in the Cohutta…

Avoid Atlanta’s heat with a dayhike lined with lofting hemlocks. Take the Penitentiary Branch Trail for a 10.2 mile out-and-back hike in the Cohutta Wilderness, starting at the Dally Gap trailhead. The path drops nearly 1,400 feet to the edges of the Jacks River, so be sure to stop for a refreshing swim at the halfway point before heading back toward civilization. [image: Jacks Locals Sanders/Flickr]

Take it easy on a hot summer day with a hike that leads to a large bluff shelter and rain-induced waterfalls. The Lost Valley Trail along the Buffalo…

Take it easy on a hot summer day with a hike that leads to a large bluff shelter and rain-induced waterfalls. The Lost Valley Trail along the Buffalo Valley River makes a 2.3 out-and-back trip, starting from the Lost Valley campground and paralleling a creek bed. Squeeze yourself into the cave and walk less than 200 feet to find a 35-foot waterfall tucked within one of its larger caverns. [image: Beth Gourley/Flickr]

Spend an afternoon in the richly dense forest on your way to a three-tiered waterfall. Start at the Clackamas River Trailhead for a 3.5 mile hike…

Spend an afternoon in the richly dense forest on your way to a three-tiered waterfall. Start at the Clackamas River Trailhead for a 3.5 mile hike that’ll take you to a smaller spur trail across Pup Creek to the base of the falls. Admire the cascading water from the comforting shade of the lushly green leaves. [image: Ben Amstutz/Flickr]

Trade in Oklahoma’s famous plains for a day exploring within the shadows of the San Bois Mountains. Get your feet wet and cross several creeks on a…

Trade in Oklahoma’s famous plains for a day exploring within the shadows of the San Bois Mountains. Get your feet wet and cross several creeks on a 10.1 mile loop trail in Robbers Cave State Park, starting on the yellow trail. Choose from a variety of lakes lacing the path for a quick, refreshing dip. [image: J Steven Conn/Flickr]

Take it easy on a hot summer day on the Trillium Gap Trail. A 3 mile round-trip hike, starting at the Roaring Fork Nature Trail parking lot, takes…

Take it easy on a hot summer day on the Trillium Gap Trail. A 3 mile round-trip hike, starting at the Roaring Fork Nature Trail parking lot, takes you through the naturally cool old-growth forest of the Smoky Mountain Mountains. Step behind the 25-foot Grotto Falls—the only falls in the park you can walk behind—to bask in the refreshing mist of the tumbling water. [image: Wayne Hsieh/Flickr]

Head to the relaxing shores of Spirit Lake, high within the Pecos Wilderness. Hike 11.4 miles on this out-and-back trek from the Windsor Trailhead,…

Head to the relaxing shores of Spirit Lake, high within the Pecos Wilderness. Hike 11.4 miles on this out-and-back trek from the Windsor Trailhead, gaining over 2,000 feet in elevation. Amble through gentle stream crossings while heading toward your serene shoreline destination. [image: Jerry Friedman/Flickr]

Evade the sun under a roof of colossal redwood trees to the soundtrack of roaring falls. Gain nearly 1,800 feet in elevation on this 10.2 mile loop…

Evade the sun under a roof of colossal redwood trees to the soundtrack of roaring falls. Gain nearly 1,800 feet in elevation on this 10.2 mile loop through the Big Basin Redwoods State Forest, tracking counterclockwise for the easiest trek. Pass by two waterfalls before reaching Berry Creek Falls and take a break beneath its gurgling flow. [image: Ken Ichi/Flickr]

Traipse through a trail dotted with residual pools while trekking within a limestone ravine. Start at the Pine Springs campground to begin this…

Traipse through a trail dotted with residual pools while trekking within a limestone ravine. Start at the Pine Springs campground to begin this 4.2-mile roundtrip hike. Stay shaded beneath the maple leaves scattered throughout the gorge. [image: Wes Browning/Flickr]

Head into the New Hampshire woods for a refreshing day of hiking within the evergreens. The White Mountain National Forest offers a 9.9 mile loop…

Head into the New Hampshire woods for a refreshing day of hiking within the evergreens. The White Mountain National Forest offers a 9.9 mile loop past swimming pools and creeks. Stop for lunch on the shores of Kinsman pond, or take a quick dip in the water surrounded by rolling green peaks. [image: Rob Slaven/Flickr]

Hit the beach—accompanied by sea turtles and gators—for a prime way to cool off in the southern Alabama heat. The 3.7 mile Pine Beach Loop in the Bon…

Hit the beach—accompanied by sea turtles and gators—for a prime way to cool off in the southern Alabama heat. The 3.7 mile Pine Beach Loop in the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge winds through salty marshes, freshwater ponds, and looming oaks cloaked with moss before hitting the white sands of one of the Gulf of Mexico’s beaches. Stop to fish in Gator Lake along the way, or let yourself float in the salty ocean water before heading back along the dunes. [image: Ken Ratcliff/Flickr]

Keep cool on a leaf-lined path while walking to the sounds of the bubbling Minister Creek. A 6.4 mile loop track within the Allegheny National Forest…

Keep cool on a leaf-lined path while walking to the sounds of the bubbling Minister Creek. A 6.4 mile loop track within the Allegheny National Forest bypasses wooded caves under the cover of the dense forest. Follow the creek to get wet on one of the numerous unbridged stream crossings. [image: Bill Rape]

Trace the shores of four mountain lakes—all perfect for an easy swim—while walking within site of snow-capped peaks. From the String Lake Trailhead,…

Trace the shores of four mountain lakes—all perfect for an easy swim—while walking within site of snow-capped peaks. From the String Lake Trailhead, walk only 4.5 miles to the Trapper Lake campsite to relax by the small lake, nestled within the foot of a mountain. Head back the way you came for a total of 9 miles hiking through Wyoming’s spectacular Grand Teton National Park. [image: Wikimedia Commons]

Wind along a ridgeline to work your way toward the tumbling Jack Rivers Falls. Take Beech Bottoms Trail for a 9 mile out-and-back trek through the…

Wind along a ridgeline to work your way toward the tumbling Jack Rivers Falls. Take Beech Bottoms Trail for a 9 mile out-and-back trek through the Cohutta Wilderness. Take a break once you’ve reached Jack River Falls to cool down as its rushing water plunges deep within the ground below. [image: Doug Bradley/Flickr]