Hiking shouldn't seem intimidating just because you're new to it. You can find the benefits you're after, such as enjoying the outdoors, breathing fresh and untamed air, and deepening your connection with nature on trails that are meant for beginners like yourself.
And you can find such beginner-friendly trails across the entire breadth of the United States. These are the best trails you should consider if you're gearing up for a first and memorable hike.
Shenandoah is just over an hour outside the nation's capital, making it highly accessible. The patch of land, purchased by the government in the 30s and 40s, is remarkable for its picturesque forested areas and variety of scenery. That includes original farms and old settlements with plenty of heritage.
Don't worry about getting too tired during the trip. Most of the notable locations are along what's known as Skyline Drive. This is an area that's easily accessible by car, meaning you'll be able to get around easily if walking gets too taxing. The best time to visit is between April and October.
Denali is widely regarded as the crowning feature of the Alaskan park system and has the tallest peak in North America. It also contains large areas of wilderness, many of which are only reachable by foot. There are also park rangers that hang around the kennel area when off-duty, so there'll be chances to get expert local tips for making the most of your hike.
Still, if you get too tired at any point, the Denali bus tours present an easier way to see all the incredibly vegetated area has to offer.
The best way to reach Denali is through either the Parks Highway or via the Alaskan road. June through August make the best times to visit.
Found just at the end of the Florida Keys, Dry Tortugas provides numerous opportunities for water exploration and touring the famed Fort Jefferson. But the best thing about it is all the hikes are hardly strenuous. That's also helped by the relatively flat area, reducing the chances of you getting exhausted too quickly.
It's a bit of a remote location, so you'll have to get a boat or seaplane after driving or commuting to the Florida Keys. The many rivers around contain abundant aquatic life, including a variety of colorful fish. And there are a few walks that lead you through the stone arches of Fort Jefferson.
You're best off visiting from November to April.
This hike is in one of Arizona's most isolated areas, and it's named after the heavy deposits of colorful petrified wood. It's an easy hike because it's mostly flat, despite having a varied landscape that makes it quite fun. There are a couple of hilly areas, but most aren't too taxing.
The Painted Desert is among the most notable spots, particularly if you're looking to snap a picture of a brilliant sunset. For a little more exertion, try the striking badlands of the Blue Messa.
The period between March and October usually makes for the best time to visit.
Yosemite National Park's hikes are remarkable for their richness of features, including waterfalls, Sequoia groves, and granite monoliths. The several walks you can choose lead you to incredible sights such as Yosemite Falls and Half Dome along Sentinel Bridge.
You can try walking down to Mirror Lake and the Cathedral rock for longer strolls. To experience it at its best, visit between April and October, which is quite a big window.
A 2.8-mile round trip, this hike in Cutler Maine is a great choice if you want to see enchanting ocean views and rugged cliffs. It's right next to more difficult trails on nearby public reserved land, just in case you decide you're up for a bit more of a challenge.
The hike shouldn't take more than two hours at a relaxed, during which you'll pass through spruce-fir forests and cedar swamps.
This generally flat hike is at the base of Cathedral Rock and is among the most photographed landmarks in the country. It's a bit long at seven miles, but that's made manageable even for first-timers by the low slant. The main draws are sights of red rock formations, open landscapes, and fascinating vortexes.
This is also one of the few trails that offers a great experience whatever time of year you visit.
Wildcat Den Trail is made of a network of several trails, and they're all best to attempt during the fall months after the leaves have changed. At only 4 miles, it's not a challenging hike at all. Depending on how much you want to take in, you can easily complete it in one or two hours.
Some sights you can look forward to include rock formations, cliffs as tall as 75 feet, and wild flowers not found anywhere else.
This trail probably offers the most gorgeous views for the least amount of effort, so it's great for taking kids along or fitness levels that aren't particularly high. After trekking through sandstone and dirt and climbing over the Mt. Carmel tunnel, you'll get striking views of Zion Canyon hike from several angles.
As it's only a 1-mile round trip, it's among the easiest on this list.
Billy Goat Trail is a well-known and favored Maryland trek that has the Potomac River as its main highlight. It's a 7.8-mile round trip, which shouldn't be too tiring even for a first hike. That's split along three sections, though, so you can always take breaks or turn back whenever you've had enough.
If you like a bit of rock climbing and hopping between stones, you'll find that a fun part of this hike.