Wilderness Walks in the West

Via readers share refreshing wilderness walks in the West.

the coastline along point lobos state natural reserve near carmel, california
Hiking trails at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, in Carmel, California, offer breathtaking views of the Pacific.
Jon Bilous / Shutterstock

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve, Carmel, California

“A wide selection of hiking trails offer breathtaking vistas of the wild Pacific coastline,” Grant Joo says. “You’ll see windswept cypresses, as well as seals and otters off in the distance.”

Calf Creek Falls Trail, Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, Utah

“Worth the drive,” Carrie Moore says. “After a natural wonder–filled hike past red sandstone, beaver ponds, and ancient rock art, the state's ultimate cool spot is so refreshing.” 

Coast Trail, Palomarin Trailhead, Point Reyes National Seashore, California 

“Stunning views of the ocean after the morning fog dissipates,” Steve Brown says. “The trail winds inland into a forest and past three sparkling blue lakes. Though you’re less than an hour from San Francisco, you feel you’re on a wilderness adventure.”

Mirror Lake Trail, Uinta Mountains, north of Vernal, Utah

“Easy—even for small children,” Carola Groos writes. “Often there are fun surprises—patches of snow, a creek running across the trail, or fish jumping in the lake.” 

Sawmill Loop, Mount Charleston, west of Las Vegas

“Towering trees, wild horses, views, and snow in winter,” Shannon Cangey says. “Relax after your walk with hot chocolate at Mt. Charleston Lodge.” 

Munson Creek Falls, Tillamook, Oregon

“A little-known gem down an easy half-mile trail through lush forest,” Traci Durrell-Khalife says. “At an impressive 319 feet, the waterfall is the tallest in the Coast Range.”

Applegate Ridge Trail, Applegate Valley, Oregon 

“Incredible panoramas of mountains and valleys greet you here,” Jack Duggan says. “Heritage maples, cedars, and firs, plus a spring and an expansive view of the 5,000-acre Wellington Wildlands.” 

Hoyt Arboretum, Portland

“Awesome nature in all its glory,” Barbara Kochevar writes. “There are many trails with huge, fabulous trees and you feel you’re outside the city. Take a lunch!”

Trail of Ten Falls, Silver Falls State Park, Oregon

“There are not many places where you can see this many beautiful waterfalls on a moderate hike,” Jim Thomas says. “The park is open all year, and maps are provided in the South Falls Nature Store.”

Waterfall Loop, Uvas Canyon County Park, south of San Jose

“A great natural escape close to Silicon Valley,” Lisa Amato says. “The canyon is lush with ferns and sycamore and bay trees.”

Yahi Trail, Bidwell Park, Chico, California

“Discover the secluded swimming spots Bear Hole and Salmon Hole on Big Chico Creek,” Wayne Edwards says. “Or take the North or South Rim trails.” 


This article was first published in May 2014 and updated in March 2019.