7 Off-The-Beaten Path Hikes In America

by Julia on May 10, 2019

For those thrill-seekers and adventure-lovers who want to try something new, here is a list of 7 off-the-beaten path hikes in America.

  1. New Hance Trail, Grand Canyon (September to May)

One of the least-travelled trails in the Grand Canyon, this trail requires a very “hands-on” approach. Often you will be scrambling over boulders using elbows and knees.

This rugged trail rewards adventurers will the most stunning vistas of the Grand Canyon but should only be attempted by experienced canyon hikers.

Roughly 2 to 5 hours round trip, and should be avoided from June to August, when temperatures become dangerously high.

You can camp overnight at the river rapid beach, but this will require a permit.

  1. Mount Washburn trail, Yellowstone National Park (May to October)

This is a 3 to 6-hour round trip, with an elevation gain of 450m.

Ensure that you have protective clothing for the change in temperature.

The Northern route offers wonderful wildlife viewing, while the Southern route is open to bicycles and park vehicles. Both routes offer steady climbs and stunning views of the park.

Bear spray is recommended as well as hiking in groups.

Once you reach the top, the Fire Lookout Station provides a wonderful interactive exhibit for you to explore.

  1. Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park (March to November)

This advanced trail is rather popular. You will need scrambling experience for this hike.

The trail is 2 to 4 hours with an elevation gain of 450m (protective clothing may be required).  Much of the ascend is an exhilarating climb, and the view from the top makes all the scrambling worthwhile.

Upon descent, you could choose the Bowl Trail or the longer Gorgham Mountain Trails and Ocean Path. Do not descend via Beehive – this is incredibly dangerous.

There is lake between the 2 peaks on descent. You can swim but there are leeches.

  1. The Subway, Zion National Park (Late Spring to Fall)

This is a semi-technical climb and experience in canyoneering and rappelling is required (will need 60ft of rope for the “top-down” route).

Be prepared for 7 to 9 hours of scrambling and climbing (and even swimming). Ensure you stay hydrated. Waterproof socks are required as you will be in the water much of the time.

A permit is required for this trail and only 80 are handed out a day.

It’s recommended to hike with another hiker who has experience with this trail. Alternatively, obtain thorough information beforehand.

Avoid this trail if there are warnings of rain; flash floods are not uncommon

  1. Charlies Bunion, Great Smokey Mountains National Park (All Year)

This strenuous hike is best attempted in Spring and early Summer, when the wildflowers are in full bloom. You’ll be travelling along the Appalachian Trail and there will be an elevation gain of 1,640ft.

The first part is a steady climb and you should allow your body time to acclimate. Ensure you know the signs of altitude sickness. You will need protective gear and a hydro pack.

The climb offers stunning views on either side of the ridge. Your final destination, the rocky outcrop of Charlies Bunion, offers the most magnificent view.

Bear spray should be included in your gear, and camping is only possible via permit.

  1. Static Peak Divide, Grand Teton National Park (June to August)

This is a 10 to 12-hour hike, and you might want to do it over 2 or 3 days (a permit is required for overnight camping – see our camping tips article). The trail is strenuous with a 5,000ft elevation gain. Suitable for experienced hikers only.

Appropriate protective clothing is required. Beware of altitude sickness and allow your body time to acclimate.

Ensure you have enough food and water. The trail starts at Death Canyon Trailhead and there are sections that have steep switchbacks. The stunning sights along the way, and the mesmerising view at the final destination, makes the effort worth it.

Hiking with others experienced in this area is recommended.

Bear spray should be added to your gear and hikers should travel in groups. An ice pick is needed if hiking in July.

  1. Fairyland Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park (April to October)

A seven-day pass is required to access the park.

As the name suggests, this trail is simply magical. You will encounter breathtaking hoodoo formations such as China Wall (impressive fence of hoodoos) and Sinking Ship.

This 4 to 5-hour trail is one of the parks longer trails and is thus less popular. It’s rated as “moderate to difficult” and will require experience and a good fitness level.

As the quietest trail in the park, you might encounter deer if you begin early enough. Watch out for snakes.

If you start your hike later in the day, you’ll be able to see the Milky Way from the trail (a head torch is required for night hikes).

Remember to take plenty of water with you.

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