No disrespect intended to state and provincial parks, but the designation of National Park means the crème de la crème of the USA’s natural real estate. The resourceful experts at Backpacker.com have cleverly compiled a list of the Best Hikes in the country’s venerable National Park Service. Clever in the sense that they have isolated stretches of much longer trails that are accessible and achievable for those who are not Ironman alumni. Consider them like a hiking espresso to the Grande cup at Starbucks. There are logistic challenges to getting to the abbreviated versions but the best thing about this list is that it inspires a desire to experience these wonderful venues in some way, shape or form. A few are Park superstars, like Yosemite and The Grand Canyon, but most are not that well known yet and could very well become the most unforgettable sight of a lifetime. Just touring them online is a breathtaking experience that will have you shopping for new hiking gear.
12. Goat Trail to Skolai Pass -Wrangell-St. Elias NP, Alaska
As for the degree of difficulty, just consider the name and how hikers need to impersonate one to progress comfortably along this trail which is often more of a track worn by Dall sheep. It is the epitome of Northern Exotic. All one needs to get there is take a bush plane, hike for miles through wilderness, forge a river or two and voila! You’re ready. Piece of cake. It follows along the Chitistone River across the pass, where the view erupts in brilliantly colored flowers, redundantly including forget- me- nots because this sight will certainly not ever be. The huge Russell Glacier, snaking for 20 miles down from a towering peak of 16, 421-foot Mt. Bona. Timing and luck may produce sightings of caribou, wolf and bear as you navigate Skolai Pass down to the lake where you have arranged for your bush plane ride to pick you up. Like we said, piece of cake.