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The Trail Less Traveled: 50 States, 50 Undiscovered Hikes

In partnership with the National Park Foundation.

7 Min. Read | Hiking

You've seen the photos of Grand Canyon National Park, heard the stories from Yosemite, and watched the videos of Yellowstone's geysers. But sometimes these iconic national parks are just too out of reach for your next getaway. Here's the good news: with more than 400 national park sites across the United States, most of us have great hiking within an easy driving distance. With that in mind, we've showcased one hike in each state that flies under the radar and is a true gem. Click the letter that corresponds with your state and start packing.

Beaver Pond Trail at Little River Canyon National Preserve

This short, mostly level loop is the perfect outing for families and features abundant bird life, so be sure to bring your binoculars.

Distance: 1.25 Miles

The Totem Trail at Sitka National Historical Park

Hike under a canopy of towering Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock, while being awed by views of Sitka Sound.

Distance: 1.6 Miles

White House Ruin at Canyon De Chelly National Monument

The moderate hike to White House Ruin offers a unique view into Navajo culture and history.

Distance: 2.5 Miles

Tyler Bend Trails at Buffalo National River

This dog-friendly network of trails is easily accessible from the visitor center and campground, and features views of Calf Creek and Buffalo River.

Distance: varies

Mill Creek Falls at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Watch for deer and birds as you hike to the 75-foot Mill Creek waterfall. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, and if you go in summer, you'll find more wildflowers than you can shake your hiking stick at.

Distance: 3.8 Miles

Dillon Pinnacles at Curecanti National Recreation Area

With amazing views of Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado's largest body of water, and the potential to spot bighorn sheep, this hike is not to be missed.

Distance: 4 Miles

Mattabesett Blue Trail at New England National Scenic Trail

With numerous ascents along its rocky path, the Mattabesett Blue Trail delivers incredible views. Sights of white-tailed deer and bald eagles are common, along with plenty of trail-side wildflowers.

Distance: 9 Miles

Bob Loop Trail at Trap Pond State Park

This well-marked and perfectly-maintained gravel loop circumnavigates Trap Pond, home to the northernmost natural stand of baldcypress trees in the US.

Distance: 5 Miles

Nobles Grade at Big Cypress National Preserve

A little-traveled limestone pathway offers a rare opportunity to hike through the surrounding swamp... and stay dry in the process!

Distance: 8 Miles

General Bragg Trail at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park

The mostly wooded and generally flat General Bragg Trail leads you past several Civil War monuments as it wends through the Georgia forest.

Distance: 5 Miles

Keauhou Trail at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

At 14-ish miles, the Keauhou Trail is long, but it's out-and-back, so you can turn around whenever you please. Stick it out, though, and you'll find yourself at a secluded beach where you can camp, snorkel, or just cool off in the water.

Distance: 14 Miles

Wilderness Trail at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

The unique landscape of Craters of the Moon includes lava flows (don't worry: they've gone cold by now), buttes, and cinder cones. Camp at Echo Crater to extend your adventure.

Distance: 8 Miles

Little Grand Canyon Trail at Shawnee National Forest

Incredible rock formations and a waterfall make this a hike to remember. And how can you resist venturing to the bottom of Little Grand Canyon?

Distance: 3 Miles

Cowles Bog Trail at Indiana Dunes National Park

Steep sand dunes near Lake Michigan make this a more strenuous hike but your efforts are rewarded by incredible plant and eco-system diversity.

Distance: 4.3 Miles

Eagle Rock, Fire Point, and Little Bear Mound Group at Effigy Mounds National Monument

The name of this hike is a bit unwieldy, but the hike is straight-up beautiful, with wildflowers aplenty and amazing views of the Mississippi River.

Distance: 1.7 Miles

Southwind Nature Trail at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

Numerous overlooks along the Southwind Nature Trail allow you to catch your breath while witnessing the sweeping majesty of the tallgrass prairie.

Distance: 1.75 Miles

Twin Arches Trail at Big South Fork National Park

With both shorter and longer options,this trial leads you directly through two stunning natural stone arches.

Distance: 1.4 Miles (trail); 6.0 Miles (with loop extension)

Old Barataria Trail at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Less than 20 miles from downtown New Orleans, the Old Barataria Trail is a family friendly excursion through the wildlife-rich wetlands of the deep South.

Distance: 1.4 Miles

Bernard Mountain Loop Trail at Acadia National Park

Situated in Maine's only national park, this hike remains relatively undiscovered, and boasts outstanding long-range wildnerness views.

Distance: 4.1 Miles

Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock Trails at Catoctin Mountain Park

Featuring unique rock formations and two scenic overlooks, this hike climbs 600 vertical feet to a mountain ridge.

Distance: 3.9 Miles

Great Island Trail at Cape Cod National Seashore

An amazing shore-side hike through dunes and pine forests, past tide pools, and to the ocean's edge. Take note: Hiking in the soft sand is harder than it looks, so be sure to pack water and snacks!

Distance: 6 Miles

Grace Creek Overlook Trail at Isle Royale National Park

Looking out over the Grace Creek Wetland, it's not unusual to spy moose from points along the trail. Go in August, and you might just fill your belly with thimbleberries, too!

Distance: 3.8 Miles

Blind Ash Bay Trail at Voyageurs National Park

Rooty, rocky, and little-traveled, Blind Ash Bay Trail wends through a boreal forest and offers views of Lake Kabetogama.

Distance: 2.5 Miles

Potkopinu Trail at Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail

Situated near the southern terminus of the historic 450-mile Natchez Trace Trail, Potkopinu follows the orginal trail for the entirety of its 3 miles. Great for kids!

Distance: 3 Miles

Chubb Hollow Trail at Ozark National Scenic Riverways

Traveling along the banks of the Current River before ascending to the adjacent ridgetop, Chubb Hollow passes directly through a majestic pine-and-oak forest.

Distance: 3.8 Miles

Dragon's Tail Trail at Glacier National Park

Gaining nearly 2,000 feet in 3 miles, Dragon's Tail delivers amazing views of well-known Glacier landmarks like Logan Pass and Bearhat Mountain.

Distance: 6 Miles

Fossil Hills Trail at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument

The paved, wheelchair-accessible Fossil Hills Trail passes through both wetlands and short-and-mixed-grass prairie, bringing you into direct contact with America's heartland.

Distance: 2.7 Miles

Baker Lake Trail at Great Basin National Park

Although it's perfectly doable in a day, the camping in the shadows of the limestone cliffs surrounding Baker Lake is phenomenal, making this hike a great overnight option.

Distance: 10.4 Miles

Lonesome Lake Trail at Appalachian National Scenic Trail

The only thing better than the stunning views of Franconia Ridge are the fresh-baked cookies at the Lonesome Lake Hut. Trail is steep, so hiking poles are recommended.

Distance: 3.2 Miles

Rattlesnake Swamp Trail at Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area

Despite the intimidating name, Rattlesnake Swamp is actually a great family hike with just enough elevation gain (and a fire tower!) to offer amazing views.

Distance: 5.2 Miles

Alcove House Trail at Bandelier National Monument

Be sure to climb the sturdy ladders to the ancient cliff dwellings of the Ancentral Pueblo people. Don't love heights? Don't worry: You can bypass the home sites.

Distance: 2.6 Miles

Bellvale Mountain at Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Barely 50 miles from the Big Apple, but worlds away, this 7-mile summit hike is just challenging enough to justify two scoops of homemade ice cream at the Bellvale Farms Creamery.

Distance: 7 Miles

Deep Creek Loop at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies within a day's drive of two-thirds of the US population, so "undiscovered" doesn't really apply. But we think the family friendly Deep Creek Loop, with its spectacular waterfalls, is worth sharing.

Distance: 4.6 Miles

Maah Daah Hey, South Unit at Theodore Roosevelt National Park

At 96 miles, the Maah Daah Hey Trail is just a little ambitious for a day hike, but this 7-mile (one-way) section delivers everything the full trail is known for, including frequent bison sightings.

Distance: 14.2 Miles

Wetmore Bridle Trail at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Wetmore Bridle is defined by its diversity of terrain, including mulitple stream crossings and numerous elevation changes. Be aware that it is open to horseback riders.

Distance: 4.7 Miles

Bison Pasture Trail at Chickasaw National Recreation Area

A wide, well-maintained trail makes this a perfect outing for the whole family. Bonus: Your odds of a bison viewing are excellent!

Distance: 1.9 Miles

Blue Basin Overlook Trail at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

With nearly 900 feet of elevation gain, Blue Basin will make you sweat. But the spectacular views of the surrounding blue-green rock formations are worth the effort. Take note: This trail can be very muddy and slippery in wet weather!

Distance: 3.3 Miles

Laurel Highland Trail Hike 35 at Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

Perhaps the least-traveled section of the multi-day Laurel Highlands Trail, this 11-mile ramble leads you directly through blooming mountain laurel and beautiful rock formations.

Distance: 11 Miles (one-way, requires shuttle)

Weetamoo Woods Trail at Weetamoo Woods & Pardon Gray Preserve

Wild flowers, moss-covered rocks, and hundreds of holly trees: Weetamoo is New England at its bucolic best.

Distance: 4.7 Miles

Weston Lake Loop Trail at Congaree National Park

Weston Lake Loop Trail at Congaree National Park

With views of Cedar Creek and portions of the trail running directly through a slough, expect lots of bird life and maybe even otters. Also expect it to be very wet if it's raining!

Distance: 4.4 Miles

Medicine Root Loop Trail at Badlands National Park

Distant views of the foreboding Badlands will remind you how this barren region got its name. But there's also tremendous beauty in this craggy landscape, and Medicine Root puts it on full display.

Distance: 4 Miles

Honey Creek Loop Trail at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area

Honey Creek traverses steep, rocky terrain, so it's best for experienced hikers. But the effort is rewarded: You'll find waterfalls, rock formations, and breathtaking scenery aplenty.

Distance: 5.1 Miles

Marufo Vega Trail at Big Bend National Park

It can be difficult to escape the crowds at Big Bend, but Marufo Vega is your path to solitude. Beautiful desert scenery, with views of the Rio Grande, await you on this 14-mile loop. Bring lots of water and snacks!

Distance: 14 Miles

Fairyland Loop Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park

There's 2300 feet of elevation gain in Fairyland Loop, so you're sure to get a workout. You're also sure to get stunning canyon views and huge sense of accomplishment. Hot tip: Hike counterclockwise to save the best views for last!

Distance: 7.4 Miles

Mount Peg Summit Trail at Marsh - Billings - Rockefeller National Historical Park

Beginning in the quintessential Vermont town of Woodstock, the Mount Peg Summit Trail leads to a grassy overlook at the top of 1050-foot Mount Peg. It's the perfect place for a family picnic.

Distance: 2.5 Miles

North Valley Trail at Prince William Forest Park

Mostly level, and often creek-side, North Valley delivers an oasis of nature only a short drive from the heart of Washington D.C. There are numerous opportunities to extend your hike, too.

Distance: 6 Miles

Blue Lake Trail at North Cascades National Park

Less visited than its sibling parks Olympic and Rainer, North Cascades offers oodles of incredible hiking trails. Blue Lake is one of the most family friendly, leading you through a sub-alpine forest to the sparkling waters for which it is named.

Distance: 5.3 Miles

Endless Wall Trail at New River Gorge National River

An easy 2.7-mile loop, Endless Wall features numerous ladders and almost-constant views of one of the oldest rivers on the continent. It's a great hike for kids!

Distance: 2.7 Miles

Ice Age National Scenic Trail

The Ice Age Trail is a nearly 1,200-mile foot path tracing the edge of a huge glacier that once covered most of North America. You can hop on the trail for a day hike at innumerable points, but we recommend beginning at the Ice Age Interpretive Center in New Auburn.

Distance: Variable

Joyner Ridge Trail at Devil's Tower National Monument

While everyone else bumps elbows on the Tower Trail, you'll soak up the scenery (and the solitude!) of Joyner Ridge. Don't worry: You'll get great views of Devil's Tower, too.

Distance: 1.5 Miles

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