Top 10 Hikes Across the US

It’s no secret that a lot of our road trip adventures have led to some pretty epic hiking destinations! I am sharing my top 10 favorite trails that we have hiked so far. These trails are all suitable for my boys that are under the age of 12!

10. South Kaibab Trail to Ooh-Aah Point at Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

We visited the Grand Canyon in November over Thanksgiving Break. I really wanted to hike down into the canyon, so we decided we would take the rim walk from Mather Point to the Kaibab Trail and hike down to Ooh-Aah Point. If I am being honest, I would have really liked to hiked rim to rim. But that just wasn’t an option with our boys. I also looked into mule rides to the bottom, but you have to be 9 and older and Jake was only 7 at the time. So, we did the hike and trail that we thought the boys would be able to handle the best. We ended up hiking 8 total miles because we went past Ooh-Aah Point. The views were truly stunning the father down into the canyon we hiked. The switchbacks on the start of the trail were really cool, until the hike back up! Just remember that however far you hike down, you must hike back up. And while we didn’t go that many miles down, it was very hard for me to get back up and I am in pretty decent shape. I am thankful that the weather was cooler, I cannot imagine doing that hike in the summer temps. The photos will never do it justice!

Click here for our Grand Canyon Trip Itinerary!

9. Hidden Falls Trail in Grand Teton National Park, WY

We were able to spend a couple days hiking in the Grand Tetons this past June on our Yellowstone Road Trip. I really enjoyed every hike, but this one was so peaceful and beautiful! This hike starts at the Jenny Lake area, so we decided to head that way and grab lunch at the store right at the trailhead. From here, we followed the trail around Jenny Lake. If you don’t want to hike, you can purchase tickets for a boat ride across the lake that drops you off about a mile from Hidden Falls. We decided to take the hike since we had been riding in the car so much on this trip! The views are fantastic around the lake and we even saw a deer along the trail. Before getting all the way to Hidden Falls you will eventually see a bridge with a raging river running under it. This is a great place to stop for photos! We stopped in this area and had a picnic snack on the rocks and just watched the river roar by underneath us. From this spot, it’s about a mile or less to the Hidden Falls. This waterfall is majestic and another great location for photos!

  • Hidden Falls Trail Information:
  • Distance: 4.9 mile out & back
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Location: Grand Teton NP, Jenny Lake area, Jackson, WY
  • Rating: Easy/Moderate
  • Grand Teton National Park website

Click here for our Grand Teton National Park Itinerary!

8. Lake Haiyaha Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

The hike to Lake Haiyaha was one of the toughest I have ever done. But I am beyond thankful that we persevered and made it to the lake because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! I visited Rocky Mountain National Park this past October for a long weekend of hiking. RMNP is one of my favorite places on earth, but this was the first time I have ever hiked to Lake Haiyaha. The majority of the hike is up a steep incline and there were several times I wanted to give up and turn around. When you finally even out on the incline, you are then faced with several yards of boulders that you must scramble over to get to the lake. Once you do, the sight is amazing! Especially right now since a rockslide over the summer turned the lake a unique shade of blue! This is one hike that you don’t want to miss! And this is one of two listed hikes that I didn’t take my boys on, but I know that they would have loved the rock scramble. Please keep in mind that you do need timed-entry reservations for Rocky Mountain National Park from early spring through the fall.

  • Lake Haiyaha Trail Information:
  • Distance: 4.0 miles out & back
  • Time: 2 hours+
  • Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake area, Estes Park, CO
  • Rating: Hard
  • Rocky Mountain National Park website

Click here for my Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park Itinerary!

7. Munds Wagon Trail to Merry Go Round Rock in Sedona, AZ

We traveled to Sedona over Mother’s Day weekend in May last year. Our first hike of the trip was on Munds Wagon Trail, which is about 8 miles out and back. AllTrails had the hike at 6.4 miles, but I clocked us at 8.1 miles with all of the extra exploring and climbing we did along the trail. I would rate this trail as moderate, especially if you’re hiking with kids. We needed to stop for food quite a bit. Luckily the majority of the hike is uphill on the way to Merry Go Round Rock, which makes the hike to the car mostly downhill. The views are stunning and the trail was very well marked. We really enjoyed all of the hikes we did in Sedona, but this one had those infamous Sedona red rock views the entire way and that’s why I picked this one as my favorite!

  • Munds Wagon Trail Information:
  • Distance: 6.4 miles out & back
  • Time: 3 hours+
  • Location: Coconino National Forest, Sedona, AZ
  • Rating: Moderate

Click here to for our Sedona Itinerary!

6. Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park, UT

We visited Moab over our Spring Break in March. On our first day in Moab we decided to spend the day hiking at Arches National Park. I had to see Delicate Arch, so that was our first hike for the day. I kept a close watch on the live webcam at the ticket area, and never saw long lines to get into the park. We arrived around 10 am. I am sure it’s much busier during the summer. This was our first visit to Utah, so I didn’t really know what to expect at the Park. But it ended up being super easy! Take the map that is offered to you at the ticket area. The park has signs along the way and we were able to find the Delicate Arch hike fairly easy and we enjoyed the sights along the drive. What I love about this Park is that even people that can’t hike can enjoy almost everything! There are places to pull over and view the famous landmarks or you can park and hike to them. We knew that the hike to Delicate Arch would be the longest and hardest of the trip so we started there first. I am not going to lie, it was pretty hard in one part that is a very steep incline. The rest is fairly easy and the walk back down was no trouble at all. The kids did great and we saw people of all ages and ability levels able to do this one. And I promise that the view at the end is amazing! I also loved that everyone waited turns to take photos under the arch and we all offered to take photos of each other. Please keep in mind that you need timed-entry reservations for Arches National Park starting in early spring through the fall.

  • Delicate Arch Trail Information:
  • Distance: 3.2 miles out & back
  • Time: 1.5 hrs
  • Location: Arches NP in Moab, UT
  • Rating: Moderate
  • Arches National Park website

Click here for our entire Moab, UT Itinerary!

5. Stout Memorial Grove Trail in Redwood National & State Parks, CA

There are several different parks that make up the Redwood National and State Parks, so I had a hard time deciding which area to visit. We settled on Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park and the Stout Memorial Grove Trail to hike. I am so happy with this decision, we had the most amazing day in the Redwoods and ended our hike with a beach walk that was absolutely stunning! We encountered maybe 4 people on this day, at both the Redwoods and the beach! So, I highly recommend a visit if you want to experience a National Park with no crowds. The road to this trail does turn into a packed dirt road, but our 2 wheel drive rental car had no issues making the trip! Our boys loved climbing all the fallen trees, especially after being in the car for so long the day before. The pictures don’t really do it any justice, I have NEVER seen trees so big and tall in my life.

  • Stout Memorial Grove Trail Information:
  • Distance: 0.7 mile loop
  • Time: 30 min+
  • Location: Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park in Crescent City, CA
  • Rating: Easy
  • Redwood National & State Parks website

Click here for our entire Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary!

4. Sunday Gulch Trail in Custer State Park, SD

My favorite day in South Dakota was hiking in Custer State Park! I can’t even begin to describe the trail we hiked. I came across images of the Sunday Gulch Trail and knew we had to do it. I am not going to lie, there were tears shed around the 2.5 mile mark from my oldest kiddo. (We didn’t know he was actually getting sick with a fever/cold at the time). This hike is 3.9 miles long, it’s labeled as a HARD trail with a lot of uphill and downhill hiking, trekking through water, over rapids and streams using rocks or tree logs to get across. It was so much fun, but so much work. I can’t even describe how beautiful the sights were and my pictures just don’t do it justice. We could’ve explored this park for 3-4 days! I didn’t get many shots of us on the crazier parts of the trail because I had to help pass our little one off to Jereme and didn’t want to drop my phone in the water. But trust me, it was so cool! We packed a picnic lunch and found a nice, shady area to eat and then took off. It cost us $20 to get into the park, but that includes a 5 day pass to return. There are bathrooms, a store/souvenir shop, canoe rentals, and probably more than I even saw. After the hike, the kiddos and Jereme jumped into the lake for a freezing cold swim!

Sunday Gulch Trail Information:

Click here for our Texas to South Dakota Road Trip Itinerary!

3. Secret Cove Beach Trail in South Lake Tahoe, CA

Secret Cove Beach was one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever visited. The hike is not very long, roughly a mile from the parking lot. There are not a lot of signs marking the trail, but we still had no trouble finding the secret cove. It is a clothing optional beach, I would never go nude, but didn’t mind if others did. However, we didn’t see anyone else without swimsuits on. We were there pretty early and it felt like we had the entire cove to ourselves. We explored the trails above the cove and just took in the sights, then hiked down to the beach and relaxed on the shore and took a few swims.

  • Secret Cove Beach Trail Information:
  • Distance: 0.9  mile loop
  • Time: 30 minutes+
  • Location: Carson City, NV
  • Rating: Easy

Click here for our South Lake Tahoe Itinerary!

2. Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

We visited Rocky Mountain National Park in July a couple of summers ago. On our first day here, we were so excited and decide to head to the Park right before 4:00 pm, and didn’t wait in line for more than 5 minutes to enter. We drove right to the Bear Lake parking lot, used the restrooms at the trailhead, and began the hike to Emerald Lake. It was AMAZING!!!! The signs along the trail were easy to follow and take you around two other lakes, Nymph Lake and Dream Lake, before getting to Emerald Lake. Our boys, ages 10 and 7 at the time, did great on this one. I absolutely love this hike and this National Park! Please keep in mind that you need timed-entry reservations to Rocky Mountain National Park from early spring through the fall.

  • Emerald Lake Trail Information:
  • Distance: 3.2 mile out & back
  • Time: 2 hrs
  • Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Bear Lake area, Estes Park, CO
  • Rating: Easy/Moderate
  • Rocky Mountain National Park website

Click here for our entire Rocky Mountain National Park & Beyond Itinerary!

1. Lower Caves Trail in Maquoketa Caves State Park, IA

If you are craving a unique travel adventure, then look no further! What makes this State Park so incredible is that it has 6 miles of hiking trails and 13 caves to explore, completely on your own. My family loves visiting caves, but usually that comes with a guided tour and a time limit on your caving experience. Not this place! You park your car and your adventure begins! There are no guides, no time limits, just a nicely marked trail system to venture at your own pace. My boys loved this adventure just as much as I did! We started with the lower caves, so that involved walking down wooden stairs to get inside the caves. There were different places for the boys to climb and explore, and if you have kids, you know that they love to climb and explore! I could not get over all of the geological features and was just in awe the whole time! We will definitely venture back to Iowa just to hike these caves again!

  • Maquoketa Caves Trail Information:
  • Distance: 1.7 mile loop
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Location: Maquoketa Caves State Park in Maquoketa, IA
  • Rating: Easy
  • Maquoketa Caves State Park website

Click here for more information and photos of Maquoketa Caves State Park!

Helpful Hiking Tips: Bring plenty of food and water for the day, wear sunscreen and reapply often, use bug repellent, bring a first aid kit, take a swimsuit or change of clothes/shoes, expect to get wet, and have a blast!

Budget Friendly Hiking Gear Recommendations

This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you purchase any items using the links provided at no extra charge to you.

I would love to hear what your favorite trails are! If you have a favorite trail or a recommendation, leave me a comment. And as always, thanks for following along on our adventures!

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