6 Best Hikes In America To Trek This Spring

Why Hike In Spring?

Spring is an awesome time to trek the best hikes in America. While most people think of summer as the best hiking season, spring hiking has some awesome benefits too. Informed hikers take advantage of this time of year to prepare for the upcoming hiking season. But also do it to help to shake the off the winter blues while enjoying the lack of crowds & cool temperatures. Another advantage is, spring hikers experience beautiful spring wildflowers, no bugs and spectacular views. We love hiking in spring and wanted to share our pick for the best hikes in America on Spring for you.

We should note that the hikes included in this article are not introductory hikes. Each of these trails are for athletic hikers who have moderate hiking experience. Now without further ado, here are our 6 top hikes.

Zion National Park, Utah: The Narrows

Girls hiking along rive bed inside the narrows hike on of the best hikes in america

The Narrows is our favorite hike in Zion National Park, due to it being one of the best slot canyon hikes in the world. This route of the hike is basically the Virgin River in a very narrow canyon. In fact the canyon is so narrow in spots you will have to cover the river to complete this hike. So expect to get wet and be cold at times. Even during the high heat of summer the Narrows are in shade so the water never warms up too much.

Anyone entering Zion National Park will need to either pay a fee or have an annual National Park Pass. So check the NPS.gov website for the latest park entrance fees. The National Park Pass is a cost-saver for people who plan on going to more than three National Parks a year.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO HIKE THE NARROWS?

Spring. Nope, we are not kidding,  but check the Zion National Park updates for when it reopens due to lower water levels. We love hiking here in Spring because it’s less crowded, the heat isn’t bad and the water levels are manageable. However, be mindful of recent weather on the day you plan to hike. Especially if rain is in the forecast or it snowed recently, because flash floods can happen. For this reason hikers that choose spring hikes here shouldn’t be newbies. If you are new to hiking then summer is a better time to attempt the Narrows in Zion national park.

HOW TO HIKE THE NARROWS?

You have two choices for how to hike the Narrows, either starting from the bottom up or from the top down. Below briefly explains each.

Bottoms Up: No Permit Required

This is the best route for newbie river hikers (in summer) or people who only want a day hike. The starting point is the Temple of Sinawava (last stop of the free shuttle into Zion Canyon). Proceed hiking upstream via the Riverside trail until Wall Street (marker #4 of 5) to get a taste of the majesty of Zion. Otherwise for intermediate hikers, keep hiking until you reach Big Spring (marker #5 of 5). This route is a formidable, ten mile round trip adventure.

Top Down: Permit Required

The top down route is a sixteen mile hike downstream from Chamberlain’s Ranch to the Temple of Sinawava. You actually can do this route either in one day or overnight. Completing the top down hike as a one day hike is only suitable for athletic and experienced hikers. Also it’s important to plan well, as this day hike takes around ten to fourteen hours to finish. On the other hand, for the overnight option, when you purchase a permit you will also reserve a campsite. For the overnight hike, plan on hiking 6-8 hours each day. Doing so will give you enough time to see Deep and Kolob Creeks on day one, and then see Orderville Canyon on day two.

WHAT TO WEAR TO HIKE THE NARROWS?

These items are essential for not only your comfort but also safety.

  • Non-cotton clothing. Wool is a great material because it breathes in heat and dries quickly for being wet. Since temperatures vary in spring you should also layer clothing.
  •  Neoprene Socks and Waterproof boots.
  •  Wet-suit or Drysuit. Especially if hiking at reopening of the trail due to canyon water temperatures of 30-40 F.
  • Plus the 10 essentials. We take these items on every single hike and you should too.

Hot Tip: Use a “dry bag” to keep your cell phone and other belongings dry during a hike in the narrows.

The White Mountains, New Hampshire: Franconia Ridge Loop

Man with red backpack hiking on franconia ridge in New Hampshire the best hikes in America

Looking to get out of your comfort zone as well as finish a strenuous day hike? Then it’s time to take your first steps hiking the Franconia Ridge Loop. You will find this alpine loop hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. While the alpine ridge section is between the second-highest peaks in the Eastern US. Actually during is a popular almost nine mile hike, you will traverse three mountain peaks in total. Including Little Haystack Mountain (4840′), Mount Lincoln (5089′) and Mount Layafette (5260′).

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO HIKE THE FRANCONIA RIDGE LOOP?

This is one of the most popular hikes in the White Mountains. In fact the state promotes this hike as a tourist attraction! So if you want your journey to be quiet and spectacular, try going either at the beginning of April or late May. If you choose early April expect a cocktail of snow, ice and mud. While this might not sound appealing, remember the snow will have not melted yet. Thus you can enjoy cool temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s Fahrenheit and empty trails. Otherwise wait until late May for the snow & mud to wane for easier trekking.

HOW TO HIKE THE FRANCONIA RIDGE LOOP?

The Franconia ridge loop is exactly as you would imagine it, and appears on a map like a lasso. How you choose to start will depend on how you want to finish, either by descending a trail (Bridle Path) or by descending over waterfalls (Falling Waters). Regardless the average hiking time for the loop is over seven hours, so plan to start early in the morning.

So where to start? After walking a short way into the park on the Old Bridal Path, you’ll see a split. Next is a brief explanation of each route, we prefer to do the second route.

1. Take the Bridle Path trail towards the summit of Mt. Lafayette

You start with an easy 2 miles to the hike, then at about 2.9 miles you will hit the Green Leaf high hut. The hut is a nice rest spot and opportunity to refill your water. Following the hut, the hike becomes much steeper upward to the alpine ridge. The ridge is absolutely breathtaking with unmatched 360 degree views, so rest here. Next follow the alpine ridge along the three summits, expect trekking the ridge to take about 2 hours. To finish, there is a steep descent following rivers and waterfalls back to the trail-head.

2. At the trail split on the Bridle Path trail head towards the Falling Waters trail

We always start with this tougher trail as we prefer to take advantage of our strength early. Plus we get to experience awesome waterfalls at the beginning of the trip, rather than the end. Doing this route you will need to be in shape and agile, it is not for the faint of heart.

After hiking up about 3.2 miles through water and steep switchbacks, you hit the alpine ridge. The ridge itself is the most dangerous part of this hike due to exposure to the elements. Meaning the weather can change fast, so come prepared. Once hikers reach the end of the ridge section the descent will begin. Next you will descend the Green Leaf Trail (rest at the hut) toward the forested Old Bridle Path. You will finish back at the trail head.

Which ever route you choose, understand that this hike is an ambitious trek. Seriously, this hike is no joke and it is very challenging to do without preparing yourself. For access, try to find parking at the Lafayette Place Campground, right off Interstate 93. Otherwise expect to park bumper-to-bumper along the road.

WHAT TO WEAR TO HIKE THE FRANCONIA RIDGE LOOP?

In general, it’s good practice to remember that weather on a mountain can change in a snap. The Franconia Loop is no different and what you pack will depend on the time of the year you hike.

Regardless always bring lots of water, at least 2 liters per person. Plus a good camera!

Hiking March – Mid May: Spring starts this year on March 20th 2019, but we wouldn’t hike here until at least late April. Even in late April you will need full winter gear:

  • Winter jacket (hard shell) with pants
  • Winter specific hiking boots with crampons or snowshoes
  • Balaclava (the wind on the ridge is blistering) or winter hats
  • Winter gloves
  • Headlamp
  • Ice axe
  • Hiking poles with crampon tips
  • Remaining “10 essentials

Late May Onward: Again, remember the temperature at the bottom will be different at the top. The winds on the alpine ridge can steal heat from your body very quickly. So always pack and wear many layers. We recommend to follow the “10 essentials” and bring some hiking poles to help with the descent.

Hot Tips: Unless you consider yourself an expert hiker, only do this hike around end of May. This is a quieter time to climb and most of the mud will be gone. Plus, do yourself a favor and bring the strongest bug repellent on earth, it’s black fly season.

Yosemite National Park, California: The Half Dome

photo of the half dome peak of Yosemite at sunrise

The Half Dome is an epic 14.8 mile endurance hike taking hikers over 4800 feet above the Yosemite Valley. It is not for the faint of heart, and definitely has some technical terrain, but well worth the effort. Hikers see stunning views of huge waterfalls, Half Dome, Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. So preparation and safety are key to completing this fantastic hike. This hike is strenuous both mentally and physically but it’s worth every painful second to get to the top. It’s important to maker sure to prepare your fitness level for this hike as it is gruelling on your legs. Finally, you need to also plan to leave as early as possible in the day for this hike. Since many people will take over 11 hours to complete it and always have a must turn-around time.

The Half Dome Permit Lottery

You do need to buy a permit to hike this trail beyond base of the Subdome. But know you often can’t try to buy a permit the day of a hike. Instead you apply for a permit via a lottery. It’s a permit lottery because too many people were hiking the cables each day and hikers dying in the past. So try to apply for the preseason lottery in March (three hundred permits given per day). Also your best bet for success is for weekday permits over weekend permits. Don’t try to cheat and hike without a permit or you risk a five thousand dollar fine and/or six months in jail! On the hike you will need your permit plus a piece of photo ID.

For Half Dome Permits visit the NPS website or call the Yosemite Park Ranger Station.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO HIKE THE HALF DOME?

The NPS states that you can’t climb Half Dome unless the cables are up. This year the Half Dome cables should go up around May 24th depending on conditions. Then the cables come down approximately at October 14th. Try to go for opening day because it’s super quiet and the waterfalls are better the earlier in the year you go. For times not to go, avoid Half Dome on stormy days especially if thunder is in the forcast – it’s not worth the risk. Even rain will make the rockface slippery on the cable route, so if it’s wet stick to the subdome. An ever better choice would be to do a different hike in Yosemite.

HOW TO HIKE THE HALF DOME?

Try the mist trail route, it is our favorite route up to the subdome. Once you hit the stairs part of this trail you move upward next to a stunning waterfall. This route is different than others in the park for a reason, the mists. You have to experience it to understand. What we can say is you are going to be wet after this part, actually let’s rephrase that, the mist will soak you. This route is worth it purely for the overlook of the falls about three hundred feet past first overlook. At the end of the stairs you will reach the Vernal falls overlook.

Note: If you don’t hike with a water filter, there is nowhere to get water above the Vernal Falls footbridge. Hikers without a filter, may want to add an extra liter of water to their packs. For the entire hike we take three litres of water per person.

Next you will travel toward Nevada falls via steep rocky switchbacks. After Nevada falls you reach the little Yosemite valley outhouse (last pit-stop). Then you enter an incredible forest of sequoia trees where you get your first peek at the half dome. At the base of the subdome you will see the rangers checking for permits (as explained before). Hiking up the Subdome is steep and exposed so take your time and make sure to save some energy for the cables.

The Half Dome Cables

Now let’s talk about the cables, as they are the most famous section of the Half Dome hike. For people afraid of heights this is the area of the hike that will push you out of your comfort zone. This section contains dual steel cables with wooden supports every 10 feet. You use them to ascent the last 400 feet to the summit without mountain climbing equipment. While it definitely looks intimidating, if you focus and take your time, it is very doable.

At the base of the cables you may see a large pile of gloves. Although sometimes all gloves are in use, so we always bring our own rubber gripped gloves. Gloves will give you a better grip and help avoiding painful blisters when descending. Other than gloves, secure water bottles and camera for the climb up. Since you will appreciate having them for a rest and picture opportunities up at the top.
 
Once you finish soaking in the views up top, it is time to descend. Compared to the hike up, the descent will fly by and next thing you you know you’re back at Nevada falls. Instead of going back down the Mist Trail we like to take the John Muir trail down to the trail head. This route has a more gradual descent which is a little easier on our legs. Plus you can stop and take awesome pictures of the Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, and Half Dome. Once you get back to the trail head you can either catch a free shuttle to your car or anywhere else in the valley.

WHAT TO WEAR TO HIKE THE HALF DOME?

There are several methods to prepare and pack for this hike, what you choose to do is up to you. The following is what we wear and pack to help us have a safe, enjoyable Half Dome hike.

  • The Permit – As explained before you need a permit to hike the Half Dome. Once you get it, make sure you print it and bring it along with you.
  • Picture Identification – You will also need official identification with your picture on it. No ID means no hike, don’t forget it.
  • Hydration (3 liters) – This is critical for this hike, no matter what time of year your do it. We bring 3L of water and a water filter just incase. Adding sport drinks to help replace electrolytes from sweating are also a good idea.
  • Hiking boots – This is gruelling hike on your feet and ankles so good hiking boots are vital. While some people say they wear running shoes, we don’t recomend it. This is because the granite rockface at the cables will be slick, so don’t wear runners.
  • Non-Cotton Clothes – You don’t want to wear any cotton on any strenuous hike. Cotton will hold water/sweat and make for a very uncomfortable day.
  • Hiking Poles – While you do have to be athletic to do this hike, hiking poles are a great addition to your pack. Not only do they protect your knees but they also help with your balance on the descent of the hike.
  • Bug repellent – Depending on when you can get a permit you may end up hiking in mosquito season. Mosquito season begins at end of spring until summer finishes.
  • The 10 essentials – These are the essential items to take on any hike
Hot Tip: When descending the cables people find it’s easier to turn around and go down backwards. Keep both your hands on the cables. Then rest on each of the plywood boards, but do not stop on the slick granite rockface. Also if you are wary about climbing the cables, you can use a climbing harness on the cables.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington: Skyline Trail

Mount Rainier

The Skyline trail in Mount Rainier National Park is a popular 5.3 mile loop in Washington State. This hiking trail features a waterfall and panoramic views of Mt. Adams, St. Helen’s, and Mt. Hood in the distance. Not to mention the mountain you will be hiking on, Mt. Rainier. The Skyline Trail is generally full of visitors within the first quarter mile. These visitors come to hike through fields of wildflowers with amazing views of Mt. Rainier. Don’t worry about the crowds, regardless of the time of year you hike. They tend to peel off after you hit the unpaved section fo the “high skyline trail”. Plus if you hike here in spring you will have an even better chance to hike crowd-free.

Lastly, you will need a National Parks Pass to enter the park, check for prices here.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO HIKE THE SKYLINE TRAIL?

June is the best time of the year to hit the Skyline Trail in our opinion. This sweet spot time of year affords good weather and likely few people on the trail. Another bonus is all the wildlife you can see, like chipmunks, marmots, deer and bears. If you choose to try this hike earlier in the spring expect snow and lots of it. Infact NPS rangers often offer snoweshoe tours during this time of year. As for time of day, it is best to pace yourself on this hike since you will travel a lot of steps and switchbacks. Another reason to start early is that it’s easier to park early before the parking lot becomes a zoo.

HOW TO HIKE THE SKYLINE TRAIL?

The Skyline trail begins at Paradise behind Jackson Visitor Center. There are several trails which intertwine here, so a good rule of thumb is to stop by the visitors center to get a map. First you will travel up a paved portion for about the first mile.

The Ascent

From the trailhead you will proceed north, following signage for the Skyline Trail. Get ready to feel your hamstrings as you head upwards past two trail junctions. This section is very steep for almost a half mile so take your time. As the intensity of the trail grade lessens, you will come to another split for two trails. One is the Dead-horse Creek Trail and the other is Glacier Vista. Stay right and navigate a few sets of stone-carved staircases. The pavement ends here, and you will start to see the dazzling views of the Tahoma peak.

After finishing the 1.25 mile trek of the stairy section you will pass Glacier Vista on your left. In clear weather this is where you can get amazing pictures. This is also the unofficial turnaround for many less experienced summer hiking visitors. For the next half mile, you will hike along the Nisqually Glacier. As you travel, the trail will loop around in a hairpin turn to the Southeast toward Panorama Point. Next after a half mile, you will reach another junction for Pebble Creek and Camp Muir. Continue straight and after one quarter mile you will arrive at Panorama Point.

Panorama Point

Postcard-perfect, Panorama Point offers some of the most breath-taking views. At a shade under an elevation of 7,000 feet, you will see stunning views of the valley, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams. As well as Mount Hood on a clear day. Take it all in, have some lunch and if needed the area includes a solar toilet too.

The Descent

Leaving Panorama Point you will can travel along a path carved into a steep snowfield to the East. This is the “low skyline” route which some consider a short cut. Instead we prefer the more stable footing of the “high skyline trail” to the north. Since it isn’t as steep and or icy than the snowfield. After about a half of a mile, you will loop around and merge into the end of the low skyline route.

Next continue the descent for another half mile to reach the junction for the Golden Gate Trail. Here you have two choices, either take the Golden Gate Trail for a direct route back to the Paradise parking lot. Or stay on the Skyline Trail to Myrtle falls while also seeing the Sluiskin Falls. You will then trek for about half a mile until you reach Paradise Glacier Trail junction.

Paradise Glacier Trail is on your left and is a dead end trail that once had spectacular ice caves. Unfortunately they have since thawed, so you will want to continue South. On this route you will also get to see the Van Trump Monument. Which commemorates the first documented ascent of Mount Rainier in 1870.

Finally you will reach Myrtle Falls where the pavement starts again. From the falls, you’re a close walk to Paradise and the conclusion of our favorite trail in Mt. Rainier National Park.

WHAT TO WEAR TO HIKE THE SKYLINE TRAIL?

As the tallest peak in the Cascade Range and one of the best hikes in America, this hike is often snow covered. Most of spring will be no different, although as mentioned before in June you can often get lucky. Even so, we reccomend to have some winter gear for trekking through the wet white stuff. The following is what we take for for spring hiking on the Skyline Trail:

  • Hiking boots – These are a must have! Nothing is worse than hiking in runners only to get up halfway and hit a snowfield. Another problem is snow melt turns parts of the trail into mud. Thus bring a good pair of water resistent hiking boots.

  • Hiking Poles – Even if you get lucky and have little snow, these are great for anyone who wants extra stability. Ones with crampon tips will be best to reduce slipping.

  • Sun protection – A lot of this hike is in exposed areas with any cover from the sun. So take a hat, sunglasses and some sunscreen to protect you.

  • Hydration – For this hike we get by on about 2 liters per person.

  • The 10 Essentials – Like every other hike mentioned, we always have a backpack with these items inside.

Hot Tips: Start and continue this hike without any expectations. Keep going even if there’s doubt about weather or you ability to finish because the view is phenomenal. The one thing not to do is bring your furry friends, as dogs are not allowed on the trails.

Glacier National Park, Montana: The Garden Wall

photo of a grey mountain behind a lake surrounded by forest in Galcier National Park

The Garden Wall trail is a sharp ridge in Glacier National Park which is a part of the Continental Divide. This 14.7 mile trail is one of the best hikes in America and is a bucket list item for many hikers. Most hikers spend a full day on this trail as they ascend to over 3500 feet in elevation. While strenuous, hikers get to enjoy awe-inspiring vistas making every moment worth it. Expect to hike through snow, see wildflowers, water falls, a pine tree forest, and creeks.

You can park at Logan Pass or the Highline Trail shares a parking lot with Hidden Lake Trail-head. Often hikers begin at Logan Pass and finish at the Lower Loop Trailhead on Going to the Sun road. Then you can catch a shuttle back to your car at Logan Pass. Reminder to always look up the shuttle schedule before you plan to hike.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO HIKE THE GARDEN WALL?

Ambitious expert hikers can attempt this trail from April until October. Unless you find steep icy scree trails that have unprotected 1,000 foot drop offs unsettling. If this is you, we recommend to wait until summer to do this hike. The con of going is summer is you will be sharing the trail with a lot of people. As seasoned hikers we go near the last day of Spring (June 21) for to a quiet serene hike. While you can start at 8 AM, we try to get on the trail by 6:30 AM because we desire serenity and want to enjoy sunrise views.

HOW TO HIKE THE GARDEN WALL?

The trailhead starts at the Logan Pass parking lot. Even in the parking lot you need to watch out for wildlife. There is lots of it, including marmots, deer and even goats from the wall section! After a quarter mile past the trailhead, you will begin with the garden wall. This is a daunting section carved into a mountainside overlooking Going-to-the-Sun Road. You will experience an exposed sheer cliff to your left and cable handrail to your right. Take your time and hold the cable for stability, also take in the spectacular views on into the valley.

After half a mile of cliff face the trail will widen a bit. Across the valley the magestic 500 foot tall Bird Woman waterfall will come into view. Following this, you will trek through sub alpine fir and spruce trees. Continue the garden wall north past streams, avalanche chutes and ample wildlife. Here you should make noise since this is bear country. You never know what you will see as there have been sightings of mountain goats grazing right next to the trail. The trail will rise at a pleasant grade for the next mile and a half.

HayStack Butte

At three miles into the hike there is another narrow shelf carved into the cliff face. Here you will being the Haystack Pass, this is a good spot to stop for a snack. This perch has great views back toward the Garden Wall and McDonald Creek valley below. The cliff face will end after about 600 feet, then you will approach a clearing. This clearing is you best chance to witness long horn sheep as well as bears in the distance. The climb to the top of the HayStack Butte is about 250 feet via a couple of switch backs.

Grinnell Glacier Overlook

Beyond Haystack Butte, you will cross barren, rocky slopes interspersed with rocky meadows. Then at about the 6 mile mark there will be a junction for a trail to the Grinnell Glacier Overlook. enters from the east. If you choose to add this trail to your hike you will be adding 1.2 miles and 1,000 feet in elevation to your hike. But it is worth it, because you get a superior view of the glacier. We cannot stress how magnificent this view is, plus you are standing exactly on the Continental Divide.

After retracing your steps back to the Highline Trail, you are 3/4 of a mile from the historic Granite Park Chalet. The chalet is another great place to catch your breath and refill your water bottle.

The Route Back

Now you have two choices of how to finish your hike. One way is a four mile steep descent through a burned forest to the Lower Loop Trailhead. This is where you catch the free shuttle back to your car at Logan’s Pass. The other way, which we highly recommend, is to retrace your steps back via the highline trail back to the start. This route is definitely easier on your knees even if you use trekking poles.

WHAT TO WEAR TO HIKE THE GARDEN WALL?

Since you will be hiking during Spring you are going to want some winter gear for your safety. Take the 10 essential items for hiking as well as the following:

  • Wear Layered Clothing – Most hikers will find layering clothes will be efficient and comfortable. The temperature at Logan’s Pass will be warmer than when you get to the alpine zone past HayStack Butte. Non-Cotton shirts both short and long sleeve, plus a  jacket are good choices. For pants we like convertable hiking pants to manage changing temperatures.
  • Hiking Poles – Poles are great for this hike. You will want them if you choose the descent to the Lower Loop. This route is harsh on your knees, plus they will help the ascent to Grinnell Overlook too.
  • Hiking boots – Some parts of the trail will have snow pack and running water. So wear water resistant hiking boots.
  • Crampons – These are attachable spikes for hiking boots. Bring these if you attempt this trail before July.
  • Water – This is a long all day hike, regardless of time of year, we bring at least 2.5 liters of water per person.
Hot Tip: Once leaving the chalet, if you take the 4 mile route to the Lower Loop Trailhead, know it is fully sun exposed. So make sure to double your remaining water especially if you do this hike in the summer.

Acadia National Park, Maine: Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail

Photo of valley water and forests from summit of Cadillac Mountain Acadia National Park

The Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail is a “there and back” trail in Acadia National Park in Maine. It is one of our picks for best hikes in America in Spring because it’s a favorite sunrise hike. The trail is 7.5 miles to complete and is a nice way to trek to the summit of Cadillac Mountain without the crowds. It is the highest peak in Acadia National Park, and the highest point on the east coast of the United States. The total elevation of the summit is only about 1500 feet but the steep in sections which will test your legs. Also about two-thirds of the trail is above treeline, enabling you to see the route sprawl out ahead of you. Expect mud, exposed roots and loose granite on the trails in Spring.

When you enter the park you will need to pay a fee. Click here information about current prices.

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO HIKE THE Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail?

Any hike in you choose in Acadia is, hands-down, going to be beautiful. For the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail we prefer to hike it in Spring. March can be an indecisive season in Maine, you should expect either a warm spring days or bitter cold and fog. So try to attempt the trail anytime from late April to Early June to beat the crowds. As we mentioned before we love this hike for its astounding sunrise views. Thus to experience the sunrise we always hit the trail by 4:45 AM. This way we can take our time to enjoy the ascent and have plenty of time for the sun to rise.

HOW TO HIKE THE Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail?

Follow the Park Loop Road for almost 3 miles before turning left towards Sand Beach. Exit the Park Loop Road at Sieur de Monts to reach ME Route 3. Continue following the ME 3 through Otter Creek. Right after you pass the Blackwoods Campground you can park on the shoulder of the road at a gravel pull-off. The trailhead will cut into the forest here. There is no road sign for the trailhead so keep an eye out for a well worn trail.

Eagle Crag Overlook

From the trailhead, you dip into the pine and spruce woods for a mile. When you emerge the trees the trail will steepen as it ascends the ridge. Soon after the trees give away you will have the option to take a short loop trail to a rocky outlook known as Eagle Crag. While on Eagle Crag you will enjoy are panoramic views of Otter Creek and the Atlantic Ocean.

Featherhead to the Summit

Once you return back to the main trail you will descend to a small glacial pond known as The Featherbed. Here there is a wooden bench for taking a break while gazing at the unique pond. After your rest at the Featherbed get up and continue along the trail. In short time the trail will intersect the Canon Brook Trail. Be sure to take a quick look at the sign, make sure you’re pointed in the right direction.

Beyond this trail junction the trail is steep and rugged with exposed granite. This section of the hike is above the treeline with striking views of the ocean and outlying islands. It’s here that the trail is the most challenging, due to a few short and steep sections. To trek this section you will grip iron rungs. Keep going on the trail for about 500 feet before topping out on the summit of Cadillac Mountain. From the summit you can trek a gravel access road to the summit parking lot and gift shop.

Take a welcomed break at the top and take some photos. The summit provides expansive views of the Bar Harbor, ocean, and surrounding mountains. To return to the start you will retrace your steps back to the ME 3.

WHAT TO WEAR TO HIKE THE Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail?

Since you will most likely be heading up to the summit for sunrise you should ensure you’re safe and warm. If you can’t make it for sunrise these items are just as important any time you go. In addition to the ten essentials, add the following items:

  • Hiking Boots (Spring) & Trail Runners (Summer) – Since a large part of this trail is on exposed rock what you wear on your feet will differ between seasons. In spring you need to maximize waterproofing and ankle support. While in summer you need to maximize traction so wearing a trail specific runner will work.
  • Belay Jacket (Spring) & Windbreaker (Summer) – As the trail consists of a rocky ridge next to the coastline you will want a belay jacket in Spring or at Sunrise. This is a light insulated soft shell jacket with a big hood. In the Summer you can get away with a windbreaker.
  • 4 Season Pants (Spring/Sunrise) – Keeping your legs warm will help you stay energized to finish this hike. For a Sunrise hike we also like to layer with mid-weight merino tights under our pants.
  • Hiking Poles – For hikers with joint or balance problems, these will help.
  • Headlamp (Sunrise) – Another great addition for the sunrise hike is good illumination. Even better is a hand-free option like a headlamp.
  • Water – For a hike like this we take 2 Liters of water per person.
Hot Tip: This hike is great for dogs. Your furry buddy can be on this trail but must be kept on leash. Pick up after them though, as nothing sours a hike faster than stepping in dog poop.

Finishing Up The Best Hikes In America In Spring

As of now, you should be raring to go on your next adventure on any of the best hikes in America. The United States of America is an outdoor playground, one we must keep clean and beautiful. So always leave no trace when you are hiking. Also make sure to hike out with all your trash and limit single use plastic bottles. Likewise if you approach a dehydrated hiker and you can spare some water help them out. Treating every hiker out there as friends keeps everyone safe and happy.

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