"Not all who wander are lost." (J.R.R. Tolkien.) Bliss, to me, is exploring new terrain on foot — a long meandering walk along the water, a quiet, pensive hike through a forest, a break from the white noise. I can't think of a better way to spend the 4th of July weekend than traversing through some amber waves of grain.
I used to be intimidated by the idea of hiking, like it had to involve lots of equipment, great physical stamina, lean-to building skills, and a seriously pocketed vest. But I've learned over the years that a hike can simply be a few hours spent on foot out in the world. The following list is an aggregate of U.S. trails, but it's only a basic overview so please jump in with your favorite local hikes or walking trails. Hopefully we can inspire each other to get out and explore our local terrain this summer. No vest required.
I'll start with my local hiking scene. I live in Chicago, so topographically speaking it's not the most ruggedly exciting area. Yet even in the flat lands of Illinois there are bountiful forest and river trails to explore, and even more local for Chicagoans is the Chicago Lakefront Path, which spans miles and includes some of the best views around. Check out the following list and add your favorites in the comments below.
Hiking Trail Resources:
- Every Trail is a very helpful site for locating local hiking trails using their search engine. Just plug in your location (e.g., "New Mexico hikes") and you'll get a list of hiking trails, including duration and level of difficulty.
- Trail Link is a search engine for finding hiking trails in your community. They also have a cool "Trip Planning" feature that includes lodging information if you want to turn your day hike into an overnight adventure.
- Best Hiking Trails in the U.S. as listed by the American Forests website. I'm quite sure this is subjective, but there are some great spots included.
- 51 Great Places to Hike in the U.S. (USA Today). An extensive list highlighting notable hikes throughout the U.S.
- Best Day Hikes: Northeast
- 10 Great Appalachian Trail Hikes with Kids in the Northeast
- Hiking the Fingerlakes