Day Hiking
May 31, 2016 6:13 AM   Subscribe

I would like to leave the world behind for a week in early July. I would like to do this by doing some solo day hiking in a awesome locale. Ideally I fly from Austin with minimal connections, rent a car, get a cool place to stay, and do some 5-15 mile hikes each day for 3-5 days. Where should I go?
posted by jasondigitized to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Appalachian mountain hikes in new England? You can do hut to hit hikes or out and back. Alternatively tons of hikes in the western national parks like Zion and Grand Tetons and Yosemite.
posted by TestamentToGrace at 6:22 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


I did a big road trip out West a couple of years ago, hitting a bunch of National Parks. Out of all of them, Zion was the best. I didn't get to hike much (I had my 80 year old mother with me) but it seemed like there was so much great hiking there.

You can fly into Vegas and get a place in Springdale, just outside the park.

Grand Canyon and Bryce are a within a couple of hours.

July in New England is still black fly and mosquito season.
posted by bondcliff at 6:24 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Salt Lake City! OMG, a hikers dream.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 7:22 AM on May 31, 2016

Zion is absolutely awesome! Dont let the crowds deter you, there are good hikes where you see few people. Nice places to stay very close to the national park in the town of Springdale. Great restaurants there too. You wont regret a trip here. You fly into Vegas and drive up. I believe its just under a two hour drive, but it goes quick.

Also, what about Big Bend? Its gorgeous and has great hikes!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 7:33 AM on May 31, 2016

British Columbia. You can fly direct from Austin to Vancouver, and then you're spoiled for hiking choces.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:38 AM on May 31, 2016

Yeah, assuming you have a car in Austin I was going to note that you don't need to fly. Big Bend is/was pretty removed from the world. Nice variety of different environments between rocky canyons, hardcore desert, and (kinda thin) mountain forests. Warning: you may be bitten by swarms of ladybugs. Not joking.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:44 AM on May 31, 2016

Big Bend would also put you ~4 hours from Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad Caverns if you wanted to make a loop out of it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:45 AM on May 31, 2016

Thirding Zion. But fly into St. George, Utah if the connections work for you - closer than LV - about 90 minutes. Stay in Springdale - lots of cheap and less cheap accomodations.

Or, the Sierras! Fly into Reno and drive 3 hours south, or fly into LAX and drive 5 hours north, up the east side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on 395. There are a lot of good day hiking destinations on the east side - you can get into truly alpine scenery easily on a dayhike. Stay in Lee Vining, which would give you easy access to Yosemite's Tuolomne Meadows (or Yosemite Valley itself with a couple hour drive) but has terrible food other than the Mobile station (which wierdly contains like a 4 star restaurant), or in Mammoth Lakes (has the most lodging options and better food), or Bishop (medium amount of both). If it were me I'd choose Bishop, as it puts you closest to probably the best day hikes, and still within about an hour and a half of Tuolomne if you wanted to get up there. July is an excellent month for the Sierras weather-wise. You need a permit if you want to backpack most areas, but day hikes are unregulated. The one really best hike is Kearsarge Pass - 9.6 miles round trip, plenty of elevation gain and stunning views. There are a couple of books on Amazon with the hikes listed (since you would be hitting different parks/wilderness areas) - Here's one and Here's another.
posted by bluesky78987 at 8:24 AM on May 31, 2016

Seattle has wonderful hikes within 2 hours of the city. Mountains, rivers, oceans, waterfalls, alpine lakes for polar bearing. If you want to experience it, we've got it. Plus you can come home every night to great food, daylight until 10p, and good night life.

Check some of your options out here. Wallace Falls, Boulder River, Mount Si, are some especially nice hikes. If you felt ambitious you go spend an overnight on the Peninsula and see some of the rainforest.

Other bonuses include great weather in the summer without terrible heat, no black biting flies, gorgeous wildflowers.
posted by brookeb at 8:47 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

We're exploring Colorado this summer, so Denver is Southwest flight friendly, and plenty of hiking within a short drive. Garden of the gods is an hour south, near Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak, and July is dry mountain heat, if that is a factor.
posted by childofTethys at 9:22 AM on May 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

Prior travel-with-hikes has included the northern California coast redwoods. Beach and mountains are in close proximity. We were inspired by reading The Wild Trees. Plenty of trails. Patrick's Point, Fern Valley were two beautiful areas with less focus on redwoods.
posted by childofTethys at 9:28 AM on May 31, 2016

Some of the recommendations don't seem to take into account JULY.

There are a ton of wildflower hikes in the San Juans of SW Colorado, and up from Crested Butte. Might push back a week or two into mid-late July for the best flowers.
posted by notsnot at 9:32 AM on May 31, 2016

Bozeman MT. There are a dozen absolutely beautiful hikes in this area. They are also fairly empty. Disclaimer: many have significant altitude changes and can be difficult for folks who are unaccustomed.
posted by Kalmya at 10:10 AM on May 31, 2016

I'll nth Zion and give some specifics. Sure there will be crowds but if you are going solo you can go early to beat the crowds, rest in the middle of the day and hike some more before the sun falls behind the mountains. Springdale has some pretty great restaurants and bars as compared to many other tiny National Park towns so that has its advantages.
- The Hike to Angel's Landing - the challenge to go that last half mile coupled with great views from the bluff is the reason it is a classic.
- Hidden Canyon & Observation Point - The hike to Observation Point's middle section is chalk full of interesting slot canyon formations that you get to see up close and personal. Hidden Canyon is a slot canyon that will test your scrambling abilities to get over obstacles
- The Narrows - Stunningly beautiful hike through the Virgin River in a very narrow canyon carved by the water. Hike as far as you want and then turn around for the day.

Depending on how fast you are, Angel's and Observation Point could easily be done in a half day. The Narrows is long enough that you could spend as little or as much time as you want. There are shorter day hikes like to the Emerald Pools that you could add on after lunch. In addition a day trip to the nearby Bryce Canyon NP wouldn't be out of the question to see some Hoodoos.
posted by mmascolino at 10:44 AM on May 31, 2016

There is no place in the continental United States with a better climate in July than the Pacific Northwest. I whole-heartedly and enthusiastically recommend the Olympic Peninsula for your trip. Fly to Seattle, rent a car, and drive/ferry to Port Angeles to set up your base of operations. Motel, airbnb, vrbo, campsite, whatever suits you. From there you'd have an awesome set of options for day hikes, including old growth forest, mountains, alpine lakes, river valleys, ocean beaches, waterfalls and rainforest.

Just a few of the notable options:
Hurricane Ridge (pdf)
Dungeness Spit
Crescent Lake
Hoh Rainforest
Cape Flattery
posted by mammoth at 11:45 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

If forests are more your thing, what about the North Carolina mountains? Snowbird Mountain Lodge is one of my favorite places in the world, and it's near any number of hikes, including the last unlogged tract on the East Coast, the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest.

You'll be deep in the Nantahala National Forest and near the Nantahala River with great kayaking and whitewater rafting.

Knoxville is the closest airport (and it's a scenic drive). You could also fly into Greenville, SC, but it's a longer drive.
posted by underthehat at 1:31 PM on May 31, 2016

You could stay in Hood River, OR, and do hikes on Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Adams, and in the Columbia River Gorge. The same could be done while staying in Portland, with a lot more urban amenities but slightly longer drives to most of the trailheads.

Might also consider staying somewhere on Lake Tahoe, or near the west entrance to Sequoia N.P.

I think that Zion should be very snow-free, but with any destination in the Sierra Nevada, Cascades, or Olympics, I would research carefully which hikes will be snow-free, and whether they'll satisfy you. Mosquitoes might also be a serious menace in some high-elevation places in July.
posted by polecat at 1:29 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mt. St. Helens is extremely underrated. It is absolutely beautiful in July.
posted by Ostara at 7:46 PM on June 6, 2016

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