Outdoor Education Guide Picks — Favorite Hikes
Guide Clio Gates
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Franconia Ridge Loop/Old Bridle Path and Greenleaf Trail, 8.3 miles
Why you picked this hike? Beautiful, 360 views at the top – 4 summits across a mile and a half!
Hike/Trail Location Franconia Notch State Park, Lincoln, NH
Additional Info? Hard, rocky, but worth it!
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.hikingproject.com/trail/7002742/franconia-ridge-loop
Guide Sam Hitt
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Skyline Trail, 7 miles
Why you picked this hike? The Skyline trail has great views of Boston and is extremely accessible to those in the Boston area who are looking for ways to get outdoors without committing to a long drive. The trail is easy to access so you can drain yourself by doing the full hike out and back for a 15 mile loop or simply go out for 20 minutes and hike Buck hill for the best views.
Hike/Trail Location Blue Hills Reservation. Milton, MA
Link to Hike/Trail description. All Trails Link
Guide Charlotte Rosenblum
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Middlesex Fells Reservation – 35+ trails
Why you picked this hike? So much to do at this park!
Hike/Trail Location Easy access from Boston
Additional Info? Programs for all ages! https://www.friendsofthefells.org/
Link to Hike/Trail description. All Trails
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Snow Lake, 7.2 miles roundtrip
Why you picked this hike? Snow Lake is absolutely stunning and not too difficult to get to in late Spring/Summer. There is some dispersed camping around the lake, but the biggest draw is that it is often frozen through June and requires some sliding down snow to get there!
Hike/Trail Location Snoqualmie pass
Additional Info? This is also a popular snowshoe area, but beware of avalanche conditions.
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/snow-lake-1
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Mount Pilchuck, 5.4 miles roundtrip
Why you picked this hike? Pilchuck is another Seattle-area classic with incredible panoramic views and a neat old fire lookout perched on top. It can definitely be crowded, but it’s totally worth it.
Hike/Trail Location Mountain Loop Highway, Co-ordinates: 48.0702, -121.8147
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/mount-pilchuck
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Franklin Falls Snowshoe, 2 miles roundtrip
Why you picked this hike? Franklin Falls is great for beginner snowshoers (or hikers in the summer) and is an amazing waterfall for such a short hike!
Hike/Trail Location Snoqualmie Pass, Co-ordinates: 47.4131, -121.4428
Additional Info? REI rents snowshoes for $15/day! The falls usually aren’t totally frozen until late Feb.
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/franklin-falls
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Ebey’s Landing, 5.6 mile loop
Why you picked this hike? Ebey’s Landing is beautiful and hikable all year! It also offers a different type of landscape than Washington’s famous alpine hikes.
Hike/Trail Location Whidbey Island, Co-ordinates: 48.2049, -122.7060
Additional Info? You can get here via the ferry system or drive around and explore deception pass on the way!
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/ebeys-landing
Greater NYC Area
Guide Harrison Lee
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Chikahoki Falls/3.9 miles
Why you picked this hike? It’s super challenging, and it has a very unrelenting view at the top! The majority of the first part of the hike is pure woods, but then it very quickly elevates you onto these massive boulders that overlook New Jersey. There is also a modest waterfall about 3/4 through the hike (or 1/4, depending on which way you start) that falls into a medium-sized pond. If you go during the spring and summer, the waterfall is quite large. It is still there in the fall, but it is very thin. Overall, a fun and rewarding hike!
Hike/Trail Location Norvin Green State Forest
Additional Info? I would definitely download a map/use all trails to stay on the loop trail because there are several other longer one-way trails that start at the trail head. Also, the trail head is a really short walk from where you park, with the parking lot literally being along the main road (it’s super small as well, probably only fitting 5-6 cars so definitely go as early as possible!)
Link to Hike/Trail description. Alltrails Link
Guide Ally Pyne & Harrison Lee
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Mount Tammany, 3.5 miles
Why you picked this hike? Good views, relatively short with lots of incline.
This is a great hike for anyone in New Jersey! It’s near the Delaware Water Gap, so there’s also a bunch to do around this area as well (lake beaches, kayaking, etc.). It’s a really fantastic view (probably one of the best in NJ), but it is a pretty tough hike. There’s gorgeous streams lining the sides as you ascend up the trail, and a lot of times you can see people swimming in them/cooling off. The trail is well marked, and once you reach the highest elevation, there are several lookouts. There is parking at the trailhead, which is fantastic (and additional parking near a place called Turtle Beach), and it’s super easy to navigate to the trailhead through Alltrails.
Hike/Trail Location Delaware Water Gap
Additional Info? I would definitely pack light and go during the day. The trail is a loop, and many people start on the trail that leads directly into the woods and end with the trail that ends in a staircase (this description is clearer once you’re physically there). Also, there is a lot of tree coverage, so if you’re going in the winter/fall be sure to get there as early as you can because it gets dark fairly quickly. I would also suggest bringing someone else with you just because the photo-ops are nice and it wouldn’t hurt to have an extra voice or two cheering you on during some of the steeper portions of this trail!
Guide Freddy Ludtke
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Jockey Hollow Trail (~7.5 miles)
Why you picked this hike? Don’t listen to the New Jersey bashers – the Garden State has plenty of beautiful views too! The Jockey Hollow Trail is great for history buffs (George Washington and the Continental Army spent the brutal winter of 1779-1780 encamped there), those looking for a unique vista (the New York City skyline is visible in the distance from one outpost), or really any North Jerseyans looking for a breath of fresh air.
Hike/Trail Location Morristown National Historical Park (Morristown, New Jersey)
Link to Hike/Trail description. NJ Hiking Link
Guide Grace Buono
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Bloomingdale Trail (The 606), 2.74 miles one way
Why you picked this hike? Living in the city of Chicago it can sometimes feel like access to the outdoors is limited (other than the lakefront, of course). If you don’t have a car or are looking for something right in the city, the Bloomingdale Trail is what could be called an “urban hike.” It’s great for running, biking, or just walking with friends. My favorite part of the trail is how many neighborhoods in the city it connects–you can start in Wicker Park, walk to Logan Square, and end up in Humbolt Park. It serves as almost a pedestrian highway for the city, bringing together people from all over looking to spend time outside. Certainly by no means a rigorous hike (it’s more like a walk), but I think it’s one of the best spots in the city.
Hike/Trail Location Right in downtown Chicago!
Additional Info? The trail used to be an old railroad line! So the walkway is elevated above the city!
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.the606.org/
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Glenwood Dunes Trail, 6.7 mile loop
Why you picked this hike? This is just one of many different trails within the Indiana Dunes State Park (don’t be limited to this one option!). There is a nice variety of scenery and it is still easily accessible for hikers during the winter with lots of snow. Most of the hike is in the forest, but there is a nice array of bridges and some more open land to change up the scenery. There is also a lake along the trail, which is always an added benefit to a hike!
Hike/Trail Location Chesterton, Indiana (From the Chicago it’s about a hour or so drive, but the South Shore Train should also get you right into the state park)
Additional Info? If you’re comfortable with it given the pandemic (or also just for future reference) the South Shore Train line is a great way to get to this part of Indiana from Chicago!
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/indiana/glenwood-dunes-trail
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Chikaming Open Lands Preserve (anywhere from 1 mile to 3)
Why you picked this hike? If you have a car, I highly recommend this network of trails located in Southwest Michigan. The preserve oversees the maintenance of close to 10 different trails ranging from forest walks to open prairie settings. My personal favorites include the Robinson Woods Preserve and the the Chikaming Township Park & Preserve–which has a great network of trails you can pick from. All the trails are managed by a local team and, though they’re on the shorter side, are really fun. I particularly like the range in terrain that the different preserves offer. If you’re looking for a challenge, people try to hit all the trails in a day (there’s a competition every summer too!).
Hike/Trail Location Three Oaks, Michigan
Link to Hike/Trail description. https://www.chikamingopenlands.org/
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Warren Dunes Trail, 5.1 mile loop (give or take how far you want to go)
Why you picked this hike? This hike is one of many within Warren Dunes State Park. The park is known for its dune (obviously, but believe me it’s really cool!!) but also has a huge network of forest trails. I think one of the best parts of Warren Dunes, and also this hike, is that you can simultaneously be hiking in the woods and also along the shore of Lake Michigan. Even in the winter it’s worth the trip to see the lake–if it’s cold enough, the waves will freeze and it truly looks like Antartica. If you want to do the Warren Dunes Trail, also consider looping in the trail along the lakeshore–and if it’s warm out, go for a swim! Especially if you’re coming from Chicago, the water is so much cleaner here.
Hike/Trail Location Bridgeman, Michigan
Link to Hike/Trail description. AllTrails Link
Guide Estelle Spanneut
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Goat Lake trail, 8.2 mile out-and-back
Why you picked this hike? Beautiful hike!
Hike/Trail Location Stanley, ID
Additional Info? This hike is a bit challenging. Best done in warm weather and takes most of the day. Leave early if doing it in the summer to avoid the mid-afternoon heat.
Link to Hike/Trail description: AllTrails
Hike/Trail Name & Distance Boulder Lake Loop, 6.2 miles
Why you picked this hike? The hike is beautiful and relatively easy. The rocks get slippery at times so wear decent shoes
Hike/Trail Location McCall, Idaho
Additional Info? Heavily trafficked loop.
Link to Hike/Trail description: AllTrails Link