5 of America's Most Easily Hikable Views
Taft Point, California
This Yosemite hike takes only an hour or two. After barely breaking a sweat, hikers are treated to a generous view. From west to east: Cathedral Rocks, the face of El Capitan, and Yosemite Falls. Plus, there's 180 degrees of Yosemite valley thousands of feet below.
Ute Trail, Colorado
Famous for its 53 hikes over 14,000 feet, Colorado can be intimidating. However, the National Forest around Estes Park contains a number of trails that are both easy and exciting. Hiking to Dream Lake takes only two hours and involves a climb of under 500 feet. From the lake you can look east and see the end of the Rocky Mountains, where dramatic peaks give into the plains extending into the infinite flatness of the Midwest. To the west it's nothing but mountains.
Fay Canyon, Arizona
Like red rocks? Then feast your eyes on martian walls and rock columns of this accessible canyon. It's only three miles round trip, and unlike hikes in the Rockies, there isn't crazy elevation to overcome. If Fay seems like a warm-up, you can find many more hikes to enjoy around nearby Sedona.
Laurel Falls, Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has a lot of waterfall-heavy hikes. Laurel Falls has a paved trail, and a very forgiving grade. The entire walk is only two-and-a-half miles long. (Another slightly longer hike, on the North Carolina side of the park, has multiple waterfalls in only 4.5 miles of trail.)
Mariner's Ridge, Hawaii
Located on the outskirts of Oahu, the trailhead is accessible by car any time of year. Since the trailhead is partway up the ridge, it's not a challenging climb, and the whole trek is about three miles. And the view? As with many Hawaiian hikes, the summit gives a view of the bright blue ocean.
Tell us: Where do you go for an easy hike and a great view? Share your favorite trails in the comments section.
--image by istockphoto
Cedar Attanasio is an editorial intern at Sierra. He has blogged for The National Geographic Daily News, Peter Greenberg Worldwide, and others. A graduate of Middlebury College and a 2012 K. Davis Language Fellow, Cedar is a perpetual student of Brazilian Portuguese, Spanish, and all things Latin America. You can follow him on twitter @cedarattanasio.