Christine Lindstrom
by Christine Lindstrom
Posted October 27, 2020

As if you needed another excuse to hit the trail, November 17 is National Take a Hike Day! Hikers of all ages are encouraged to lace up their boots find hiking trails near them to celebrate. The day is observed on the same date each year, and no matter the day that it falls on, it’s a great excuse to take an RV getaway

Why not take the chance to explore a new trail you’ve been meaning to try, or perhaps one you’ve never heard of before? The easiest way to combine your RV getaway with an amazing day hike is to find great trails you can access from the campground. Avoid the hassle of parking an RV in a crowded trailhead parking lot, and return from your hike with all the comforts of home, set up and waiting.

Sound too good to be true? Think again. Here are 10 hiking trails from coast to coast where you can do just that.

Balconies Cave Trail. Photo by Christine Lindstrom.

1. Balconies Cave Trail

Pinnacles National Park, California

Hike along a creek, view magnificent rock formations, and follow the trail through Balconies Cave in Pinnacles National Park. (Note: The cave is not lit and has no prepared walkways.) Follow the blazes and be sure to bring a flashlight for this cave adventure. The campground facilities are basic, but RV sites have electric hookups and access to water.

Length of trail: 9.4 miles roundtrip. Allow 4 to 6 hours.

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Trail info: Flashlight required for the cave; cave may be bypassed if desired.

Campground: Pinnacles Campground

Camping fees: $36/night (RV electric 30 amp); $23/night non-electric + $25 one-time park entrance fee

Campground info: Water and dump station available. Pay showers.

More information: Find more info here.

Silver Falls Loop Trail. Image courtesy of Visit Rainier.

2. Silver Falls Loop Trail

Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

For a simple, picturesque trail through the old-growth, temperate rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, look no further than the Silver Falls trail in Mt. Rainier National Park. A highlight along the trail is Silver Falls, a 70-foot waterfall about halfway around the loop. A network of hiking trails in the area allows for extending the hike toward hot springs and, you guessed it, more beautiful scenery.

Length of trail: 3.0 miles. Allow approx 1.5 hours.

Level of difficulty: Easy-moderate

Trail info: Look for interpretive signs along the way to learn more about the history of the area and the plant and animal wildlife around you.

Campground: Ohanapecosh Campground

Camping fees: $20/night + $30 park entrance fee

Campground info: No hookups, water available. Maximum RV length is 32 feet.

More information: Find more info here.

Island Lake Trail. Image courtesy of The American Southwest.

3. Ice Lake and Island Lake Trail

San Juan National Forest, Colorado

What’s not to love about green lakes, waterfalls, and views from above the treeline? This loop trail takes hikers to both Ice Lake and Island Lake, stunningly beautiful alpine lakes. Due to the high elevation, the mountains in this area are generally snow capped year-round.  

Length of trail: 8.0 mile loop

Level of difficulty: Moderate-difficult

Trail info: The elevation at the trailhead is nearly 10,000 feet and the hike ascends another 3,000 feet. Be aware of the effects of altitude and be prepared.

Campground: South Mineral Campground

Camping fees: $19/night

Campground info: All sites are first come, first served. Dispersed camping is also permitted in the area. No hookups, water available.

More information: Find more info here.

Video source: At Home in Wild Spaces

4. Grinnell Glacier Trail

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park doesn’t come by its name strangely, so it’s no surprise that the best hikes in the park lead to glaciers. This trail is popular for a reason. The journey offers spectacular views of several glaciers, waterfalls, and alpine lakes before reaching Grinnell Glacier. The area is also rich in wildlife and wildflowers. Mountain goat sightings are not uncommon.

Length of trail: 10.6 miles round trip

Level of difficulty: moderate-difficult

Trail info: The trail can be shortened by about 3.5 miles (roundtrip) by taking a boat and starting the hike from the other side of the lake. Be aware of weather-related trail closures. Prepare for cold and/or wet weather and potentially slippery conditions. Practice bear safety.

Campground: Many Glacier Campground

Camping fees: $23/night + $35 park entrance fee ($25 entrance fee from Nov. 1 to April 30)

Campground info: This campground is very popular and is first-come, first-serve. During peak season, half of the sites can be reserved. Max RV length is 35 feet, with limited sites allowing slideouts. No hookups. Water and flushing toilets available. Generators permitted in some sites.

More information: Find more info here.

Palo Duro Canyon. Image courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife.

5. Upper Comanche Trail

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the country, and while it may be slightly less “grand” than the largest one, it is also much more accessible and less than an hour’s drive south of Amarillo. There are miles of trails to choose from to explore the canyon, but Upper Comanche Trail is both highly recommended and easily accessed from the Sagebrush camping area.  

Length of trail: 3.3 miles, one way (allow approx. 3 hours each way)

Level of difficulty: Difficult

Trail info: The multi-use trail crosses a river and offers spectacular views of the canyon. This hike can be extended, if desired, by connecting with several other hiking trails or spurs in the area.

Campground: Sagebrush camping area

Camping fees: $24/night + $5 park entrance fee (per adult, ages 12 and up)

Campground info: Water and electric (30/50 amp) sites. The 47 sites are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

More information: Find more info here.

Roaring River State Park. Image courtesy of Missouri State Parks.

6. Eagle’s Nest Trail

Roaring River State Park, Missouri

The Eagle’s Nest Trail follows the Roaring River up to the highest point in this Ozark mountain park. Eagle sightings are common, and during some seasons, the trail closes at 3 p.m. to avoid disturbing the eagles who roost in the area. There are other hiking trails accessible from the campground, including the Fire Tower trail, which leads to a 1930s fire tower.

Length of trail: 2.75 miles (allow approx. 3 hours)

Level of difficulty: Moderate-difficult

Trail info: Be aware of the closing time for the season you visit and plan your hike for earlier in the day.

Campground: Campground 2 or 3

Camping fees: $21/night (electric site); $56/night (family FHU/50amp site)

Campground info: Campground 2 and 3 close for the winter, but campground 1 is open year-round. Full hookup sites are only available in family sites with double pads, tables, and grills. Rates are lower in the off-season.

More information: Find more info here.

Devils Lake. Image courtesy of devilslakewisconsin.com.

7. West Bluff Trail + Tumbled Rocks Trail

Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin

Start your hike by climbing up to a bluff overlooking the beautiful Devil’s Lake, then return to the trailhead along the lakeshore via the Tumbled Rocks trail. The West Bluff Trail is a small segment of the 1,200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Don’t miss Prospect Point and Cleopatra’s Needle along the way.

Length of trail: 3.2-mile loop (allow 1.5 to 2 hours)

Level of difficulty: Easy-moderate

Trail info: Trail length is from the trailhead and does not include a short connector trail to and from the campground. Trail can be extended by following the Ice Age trail as far as desired.

Campground: Quartzite or Northern Lights campgrounds are closest. Ice Age campground is also reasonable.

Camping fees: $20/night non-electric; $35/night electric (50 amp); + $5 for non-WI residents, + $2 for weekends, + $13 day-use pass ($16 non-WI resident); Day-use fees waived for National Park pass holders. $9.50 reservation fee for online reservations.

Campground info: Can accommodate rigs up to 70 feet. No sewer hookups. Dump station available. Reservations can be made in advance. A limited number of sites are first-come, first-serve.

More information: Find more info here.

Cloudland Canyon State Park. Image courtesy of gastateparks.com

8. Waterfalls Trail

Cloudland Canyon State Park, Georgia

Cloudland Canyon offers thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, caves, waterfalls, and breathtaking views. There are over 64 miles of hiking trails available to explore the park, but the best views in the shortest time are along the Waterfalls Trail and the West Rim Trail.

Length of trail: 1.8 miles round trip

Level of difficulty: Difficult

Trail info: This short but strenuous trail passes both Cherokee Falls and Hemlock Falls. Hikers access Hemlock Falls via 600 stair steps. Those wishing to continue longer can connect to the 5-mile West Rim Loop trail to further explore the canyon.

Campground: West Rim or East Rim campgrounds

Camping fees: $34/night + $5/day GA state park parking pass

Campground info: Water and electric (30 amp) hookups with access to a dump station. Reservations should be made online in advance.

More information: Find more info here.

Pine Grove Furnace State Park. Image courtesy of loadedlandscapes.com

9. Pole Steeple Trail via the Appalachian Trail

Pine Grove Furnace State Park, Pennsylvania

Hike along the iconic Appalachian Trail at the midpoint of its 2,186 miles, which span from Maine to Georgia. The AT goes through Pine Grove Furnace State Park, passing a swimming beach on Fuller Lake (in season) and the Appalachian Trail museum. Take the trail heading north and connect to the Pole Steeple trail, leading to the beautiful Pole Steeple overlook.

Length of trail: 7.5 miles (recommended circuit)

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Trail info: Grab a trail map and combine different hiking trails to design your own circuit. There are many options to adjust the length and level of difficulty.

Campground: Pine Grove Furnace campground

Camping fees: $31.50/night + $6 transaction fee

Campground info: Water and electric (30 amp) sites. Dump station available. Big-rig friendly sites available. Reservations should be made in advance.

More information: Find more info here.

Catskill State Park. Image courtesy of stateparks.com.

10. Mary’s Glen Trail to Artist’s Rock and Sunset Rock Trail

Catskill Forest Preserve, New York

This loop trail in the Catskills passes amazing views at Artist’s Rock, Sunset Rock, and Newman’s Ledge. Artist’s Rock is named for its popularity with artists trying to capture the beauty of the scenery at that overlook. A short spur trail leads to Ashley Falls.

Length of trail: 4.1 miles

Level of difficulty: Moderate-difficult

Trail info: Sections of the hike include narrow ledges and steep rock scrambles. Mary’s Glen Trail to Ashley Falls is a shorter and easier alternative, if desired.

Campground: North and South Lake State Campground

Camping fees: $22/night (NY resident); $27/night (out-of-state)

Campground info: No hookups. Water filling station and dump station available. Generators permitted. Reservations should be made in advance.

More information: Find more info here.

Hiking Safety Tips

Remember to hike safely! If you’re heading out on the hiking trails, keep these tips in mind. 

  • Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots and dress appropriately for the weather
  • Always take plenty of water and a snack
  • Consult a trail map and follow the appropriate blazes to avoid getting lost
  • Don’t forget sunscreen and bug repellent, and check for ticks after your hike
  • Do not approach or feed wildlife
  • Keep trail etiquette in mind

On November 17, find a trail and take a hike! Another great time to hit the trail is on Black Friday. Join the Opt-Outside movement and choose nature therapy over retail therapy. Stretch your legs, breathe fresh air, and burn off some of those pumpkin pie calories.

Christine Lindstrom

Outdoorsy Author

 

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