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.
Quick City Escapes
Amazon’s best-selling guidebook authors choose killer dayhikes near…
Chicago from Susan Post
Hiking Illinois, Human Kinetics, $20
> Tupelo Trail, Cache River State Natural Area
> Sentry Bluff Trail, Bell Smith Springs RA
> Little Grand Canyon, Shawnee NF
Columbus from Susan Finch
Best Easy Day Hikes Columbus, Falcon, $10
> Blackhand Trail, Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve
> Conkles Hollow Rim Trail, Hocking Hills SP
> Grandma Gatewood Trail, Hocking Hills SP
Minneapolis from Jake Kuliu
Take a Hike: Minneapolis and St. Paul, Moon Outdoors, $18
> Inspiration Point Trail, Whitewater SP
> Quarry Loop, Banning SP
> Crow River Loop, Crow-Hassan Park Reserve
Dallas from Kathryn Hopper
Best Easy Day Hikes Dallas/Fort Worth, Falcon, $10
> Wood Duck Trail, Heard Sanctuary
> Trinity River Audubon Center Trails
> Fort Worth Nature Center Trails