Spring is here and that means it’s time to get back outside. And one of the very best outdoor springtime activities? Finding the best hiking trails!
As the earth wakes from its wintertime slumber, animal activity picks up, wildflowers add pops of color to the landscape, the trees regain their bright green coloring, and waterfalls become majestic once again. The end result? Some seriously beautiful outdoor spaces, and finding hiking trails to explore those places is the ideal way to make sure you see the best the spring season has to offer.
Not sure where to go hiking in March, April, and May? Here are our picks for the best spring hiking trails in the US.
Best Spring Hiking Trails in the US: West
No matter the time of year, the west side of the United States has some of the best hiking around. Wild animals are abundant in this part of the country, and spectacular scenery is around every corner. Best of all are the powerful rivers and waterfalls of the west that reanimate each spring.
These western US hikes offer some of the best glimpses of the western waters as they awaken with the warmer weather.
Upper Yosemite Falls Hiking Trails
Honestly, absolutely any trail in Yosemite National Park is going to be gorgeous in the spring. That said, the less popular and more challenging Upper Falls trail is probably the most rewarding hike the park has to offer. This strenuous trail will give you 360-degree views of the park and an incredible look at spectacular waterfalls.
Boulder River Hiking Trails
Located in the amazing state of Washington, Boulder River Hike takes you on an adventure along the banks of the mighty Boulder River. This easy-to-hike trail is ideal for families with children, and perfectly showcases the amazing performance that both the snow melt and spring rains put on as they create rushing rapids and majestic waterfalls.
Best Spring Hiking Trails in the US: Midwest
Hiking might not be the first activity that comes to mind when you think of the Midwest. Nevertheless, this area has tons of amazing hiking to offer. While parts of the Midwest will still be pretty chilly in the early spring, other parts are turning green and getting ready for spring hikers even as you read this.
We highly recommend these Midwestern hikes during the spring months.
Wapsipinicon State Park
Iowa’s Wapsipinicon State Park is home to over three miles of awesome hiking trails. The trails wind through wooded areas where woodland creatures are often spotted. They also make their way across open grass prairies and to a lovely little creek that begins bubbling in the spring. Of course, Horse Thief Cave and Ice Cave must also be explored when hiking these trails.
Blue Mounds State Park
Often underrated, Minnesota is a must-see state in our opinion. One of the things you should do there? Stop in to hike the 13 miles of trails in Blue Mounds State Park. Here, you’ll hike by the awesome Sioux quartzite cliff, and you’ll likely spot bison, elk, deer, and prairie chickens as you explore.
Best Spring Hiking Trails in the US: South
We love the southern part of the country because it offers relatively warm hiking even during the winter. That said, we very much prefer hiking the southern states during the spring, when the natural world is regaining its color and animals are coming out to play, but before the heat of the southern summer sets in.
The trails below are absolutely perfect for hiking in March, April, or May.
Smokemont Loop Hiking Trails
Heading to Great Smoky Mountains National Park this spring? If so, you absolutely must hike Smokemont Loop. This trail provides some of the best wildflower viewings in the country, making it the perfect place to welcome in the spring season. During early spring, look for violets and foamflowers. Later spring brings out the Canadian violets and wild strawberries.
Located in Georgia’s Providence Canyon State Park, the Canyon Loop trail offers visitors the perfect opportunity to see this surprising natural feature in its entirety. The reds and golds will likely have you believing you’ve traveled out west, and the spring sunshine perfectly highlights all of those gorgeous colors without making the trail too hot to bear.
Best Spring Hiking Trails in the US: Northeast
Finally, there is the northeastern part of the United States. Much of this region is still pretty cold in March. That said, it is home to some of the very best places to hike in April and May, when the snow melts away and brilliant greenery is revealed.
As soon as the weather starts to feel nice, head outside and hit one of the trails below for an amazing springtime hiking experience.
The perfect place for families with kids to start exploring the Adirondacks, New York’s Cascade Mountain trail is relatively easy but still allows hikers to see some of the beauty this area has to offer. The hike is about 4.8 miles round-trip and takes around two hours to complete. The summit of the mountain offers an incredible 360-degree view, and we find that the springtime weather makes exploring the mountain extra enjoyable.
The Franconia Ridge Hiking Trails
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are absolutely gorgeous in the spring. Immerse yourself in this beautifully green place by hiking the Franconia Ridge Trail, which takes you to the peak of Mount Lincoln as well as Mount Lafayette. The 8.9-mile-loop trail is ideal for intermediate hikers and is well worth the effort of hiking it.
Best Spring Backpacking
Want to go on a full-fledged backpacking trip this spring? In that case, you likely need to know where to find the best spring backpacking. Our answer? Head south for warm nighttime temperatures. Since many parts of the country still get cold at night during the spring months, being in the southern US will definitely help you stay comfortable after the sun goes down.
Besides that, we recommend finding places for bird watching, waterfall chasing, and wildflower viewing. This will allow you to take full advantage of all the beautiful things the spring season has to offer.
Some of our favorite places to go backpacking in the spring include:
- Florida Trail – Ocala National Forest Section
- Hermit Loop in Grand Canyon National Park
- The Narrows in Zion National Park
What to Wear Hiking in the Spring
You may be wondering what to wear hiking in the spring. This is a common question, and can be difficult to answer, as the answer depends a little bit on where you’ll be hiking.
We recommend keeping the temperature of the area you’ll be hiking in mind when packing your bag. You’ll also want to consider whether you might end up walking through streams or getting caught in the rain, as these things can change how you dress.
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to wear or carry all of the following when hiking in the spring:
- Quick-drying footwear
- Warm socks (pack an extra pair!)
- A moisture-wicking, breathable bottom layer
- A warm middle layer
- A waterproof top layer for rainy hikes
Yes, our country is an amazingly beautiful place, and this becomes especially apparent as the spring season comes onto the scene. Go out there and see some of this beauty for yourself. You’re sure to come out of your spring hiking adventure feeling more alive than ever before!
Related: 10 Reasons Why Hiking Should be a Part of Your Exercise Routine