While making friends along the way over campfires or mutual mishaps is part of the adventure, sometimes you need the peace and serenity of hiking a remote trail. Whether you’re looking for solitude, a challenge, or undisturbed wildlife viewing, here are a year’s worth of seasons to catch some of the best trails in America without the crowds.
- Park City in the Spring
The ski destination’s 400 miles of mountain trails convert for hikers and bikers each spring and are largely uninhabited until the busy summer months. Take on any of the more than 20 trails in April for remote natural beauty. Stay in one of the city’s three renowned resorts during their off seasons or camp in the area, spending nights on Main Street enjoying dining and entertainment. Park City offers a variety of recreational opportunities as well from mountain biking to rafting, boating, golf, and horseback riding.
Top trails: Beaver Creek Trail, Deer Valley Resort, Dog Lake Trail, Lambs Canyon Trail, Park City Mountain Ski Resort, Mid-Mountain Hiking Trail, Round Valley Trails, Silver Lake Trail
- Colorado in the Summer
The Centennial State’s parks, wildlife areas, recreation trails, and roadless regions offer miles of hiking for every level of hiker with varieties of terrain, scenery, and wildlife viewing. Hike the 500-mile, 21-plus-day Colorado Trail through the Rockies, or explore shorter trails through National Parks and Forests. Summer goers can look forward to mild temperatures, cool evenings, and a multitude of recreational activities along the way. Couple your hike with biking, horseback riding, camping, boating, golf, or climbing for the ultimate adventure away from ski season crowds.
Top trails: Colorado Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Devil’s Thumb Pass, Canyon Loop Trail, Boulder Creek Path, Longs Peak, Garden of the Gods, Booth Falls
- The Grand Canyon in the Fall
Grand Canyon hiking is most popular from May through September, and even winter hiking is common, but the closest you’ll come to having the trails to yourself is in October and November. Keep in mind the South Rim is open year round, while the North Rim closes on or before November 27 depending on weather. Facilities close in mid-October though, so preparing with water and supplies is extremely important for these always intense hikes. Choose from over 20 trails with hikes ranging from about one and a half to 22 miles.
Top trails: North and South Kaibab Trails, Bright Angel Trail, Nankoweap Trail, Grandview Trail, Rim-to-Rim Trail, Hermit Trail
- Discover the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, inspiration enough to go.
- The Appalachian Trail in the Winter
The longest continuous hiking trail in the world cannot be completed in a single winter, but it is the time with the least hikers. The 2,000+ mile, 14-state trek runs from Georgia to Maine and is as beautiful (in parts) as it is exhausting. Few hikers complete this trail and those that do take from five to seven months to finish the hike. If you want to go it alone, get as much ground covered as you can before May, when troves of hikers and campers alike will pack the path.
Top trails: Anthony’s Nose, Blue Mountain, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the 100-Mile Wilderness, Stairway to Heaven, Pine Mountain Trail
- Road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway to see many of the natural attractions along the AT.
Always review advisories and safety guidelines before taking on a hike, especially at these times with less people around. Be prepared, hydrate, and know how to reach other people or get help. Happy trails!