I thought it would be fun to share my 5 favorite National Park hikes that I have completed. All of these are great and if you are an avid hiker you should put on your bucket list.
1) The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park. This trail delivers breathtaking beauty around every turn. Starting at the Continental Divide at Logan Pass it follows the Garden Wall through the highest elevations in the Park. Read more about my hike here.
2) Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. This trail was named when an early explorer exclaimed that only an Angel can get up there. This trail is not for those with a fear of heights (or falling!). Read more about my hike here.
3) The High Peaks Trail in Pinnacles National Park. Scampering up and around the High Peaks of this National Park while surrounded by California Condors, what’s not to like! Read more about my hike here.
4) The Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park. Technically this is a non technical climb as much as it is a hike. The views of the island and the Atlantic Ocean are unparalleled. Read more about my hike here.
5) The Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park. You haven’t truly experienced the Grand Canyon until you reach the Colorado River. Beautiful and extremely difficult trail. Read more about my hike here.
Next up, I will share the 5 National Park Hikes that I haven’t completed but are at the top of my list to do.
Thanks for reading. rk
National Parks are known as America’s best idea. As a result, many people think that they are completely safe places to visit. And they can be when proper precautions and planning are taken. However the huge influxes of visitors in recent years has also created a spike in visitor deaths. Below are the 5 most dangerous day hikes in our National Parks.
5) The Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park: This short trail with gorgeous views of the Park and the Atlantic Ocean also has had several deaths from hikers falling from the precarious cliffs. Famed for its 26 iron rungs climbing vertically up Champlain Mountain and the narrow ledge to navigate, this trail is thrilling and dangerous. You can read more about the Precipice Trail here.
4) Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park: One of the most famous day hikes in America is also one of the most dangerous in America. The trail’s notoriety brings a flood of hikers who inevitably are at risk at plummeting to their deaths. The 1400 foot drops on each side of a 2 foot wide trail are breathtaking and treacherous. You can read more about Angels Landing here.
3) The Narrows in Zion National Park: This gorgeous slot canyon in Utah can be as narrow as 20 feet across with rock walls a thousand feet high on each side. Unseen storms upstream can cause flash flooding and a race for your life. As this hikes popularity has increased, so have the drownings.
Wading in the Narrows
2) The Bright Angel Trail in The Grand Canyon National Park: Hordes of tourists descend this trail into the canyon. It’s an easy hike down and the views are amazing. Suddenly you realize it’s getting late and super hot and you now have many miles of switchbacks and thousands of feet of elevation change to get back to the top. Rangers rescue folks here almost daily, but still heat exhaustion claims lives every summer. Read more about the Bright Angel Trail here.
1) The Half Dome Trail in Yosemite National Park: The most dangerous day hike in the National Park system is Half Dome. You’ve probably seen pictures of the nearly vertical ascent up the cables. If one person slips, they can take several others down with them. But this trail is electrifying in more than one way. Stay off Half Dome if thunderstorms are in the area. Not only is the treacherous trail slick, but numerous hikers have been struck by lightning on this trail.
Photo Credit yosemitehikes.com
Coastline of Acadia National Park
Acadia is a gorgeous national park set on the coast of Maine. I think the best times to go are in the fall where you can see the leaves change color. That is also a popular time in the park so plan your travel arrangements ahead of time. There are several nice hotels in Bar Harbor, but if you want to stay in the park you will be camping. Blackwoods Campground is a nice convenient location and is where I stayed during my last visit. On previous visits, I had used hotel points to stay in Bar Harbor.
View from the top of the Precipice Trail
Start your day early with quick exhilarating hikes at Precipice Trail and Beehive Trail. They are both on the east side and more heavily traveled part of the island. The views from the tops of these trails are amazing. Go from there to see the waves crash at Thunder Hole (if you catch the tides right you will hear why it is called Thunder Hole) and then a short distance to the magnificent views from Otter Point.
Grab brunch and those delicious popovers and jam at Jordan Pond and then shoot over to the less traveled west side of the island. Go straight to the Perpendicular Trail to test your endurance and be rewarded with a bird’s eye view over the west side of the island. You can also see the Cranberry Islands off the coast. From there it is a quick drive to the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. By this time, you should be ready for a late lunch of lobster rolls at Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound. This is a road side shack between Bass Harbor and Seawall.
Bass Harbor Lighthouse
Drive back across the island now to Bar Harbor and at low tide cross over to Bar Island. During low tide a path to this island emerges from the ocean. A quick hike to the peak of Bar Island overlooks the town of Bar Harbor where you can try and spot where you want to get dinner that night. You have only about a 3-hour window to get across and back, but that is plenty of time. Finish the afternoon with some shopping in Bar Harbor and dinner at Paddy’s Irish Pub or one of the other great restaurants in town. Finish the day with a couple Mexican Hot Chocolate’s to go from Choco-Latte and a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain to see the stars come out.
View of Bar Harbor from Bar Island at Low Tide
You should sleep well and probably late after that busy day. Before leaving Acadia the next morning, grab a late breakfast at Two Cats. I recommend the lobster omelet there. I hope you enjoy your trip.
Acadia National Park near Thunder Hole
The Precipice Trail in Acadia National Park in Maine is really more of a non-technical climb than a hike. I was emboldened to hike this trail with Josh since I had managed to survive Angel’s Landing in Utah earlier this year. If you haven’t read my and Josh’s version of events on that hike, then I encourage you to go back and read them. Precipice is a one-way trail only .9 miles long. You return via one of several other trail options.
We had camped in the Blackwoods Campground near the trailhead for the Precipice Trail. The trailhead is off of the Park Loop Road. We were up at daylight and quickly drove over and parked on the side of the road and began the ascent. After entering the woods, we hit a first “test” of a few iron rungs and a climb up onto a big rock. It wasn’t a big deal, but you could imagine how it could be scary it when you are much higher up. We then quickly entered a rock scramble where we had to go over, under, and between giant boulders. This was fun, but not a traditional trail. We followed the blazes painted on the rocks.
As we negotiated some minor iron rungs and cliff faces, I remarked to Josh that this trail wasn’t nearly as scary as I feared. Unfortunately, I had just spoken too soon as we hit a rock face with a vertical ascent. Josh quickly climbed to the top and encouraged me to follow. I slowly went up the rungs and counted them as I went as a distraction. 26 iron rungs straight up. I took a deep breath and pulled myself up onto the ledge. That took a massive effort. Now I had a two foot wide ledge with a rock face on one side and a plummet on the other. As I navigated this, I came to an obstruction. There was a large rounded rock with the trail wrapped around it. The ledge was about six inches wide. There were grooved places in the round rock to place your hands as you go around it. I sat there for awhile flummoxed. This is a one-way trail so you can’t go back and I couldn’t go forward without risking certain death. Finally, I just plunged ahead and wiggled around the rock and continued on.
After that tight spot, the rest of the ladders didn’t seem so bad and we quickly ascended the summit of Champlain Mountain. The view was awe inspiring. You can see the Atlantic and various islands off of the coast. After a snack and several minutes soaking in the view. We took the Champlain North Ridge Trail back down.
The bang for your buck on this trail is huge. It’s a quick hike with gorgeous views. If you are at Acadia National Park, I recommend this hike.