One of the very best ways to really get to know a place is by exploring it on your own two feet.
Here are ten amazing destinations that are rich with day hiking adventures for all abilities.
Photo credit: Samuel Mann – Creative Commons
New Zealand is well-known for the dramatic mountain scenes from the Lord of the Rings films, but you can get a taste of this beauty after “tramping”—the Kiwi term for hiking—just a few kilometers. The impressive Oparara Arch is only 1 km from the car park, but provides a lush, green forest with an 219 meter arch carved through the limestone by the river.
Located within Kahurangi National Park, there are many options in the Oparara Basin for easy day hikes of lengths to suit your schedule. Located in the northwest corner of the South Island, Kahurangi is New Zealand’s second largest national park.
Photo credit: Bethany Hester
Antelope Canyon is located on a Native American reservation near Page, Arizona. But these windswept sandstone canyons seem like something from another world. There are two canyons to choose from—Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons—and each are a sight to behold.
These hikes require a guide, but must be seen if you are anywhere in the Lake Havasu area. And while you are visiting Page, be sure to stop by the equally photogenic Horseshoe Bend.
Photo credit: Thomas Frost Jensen – Creative Commons
The land of fjords provides a spectacular backdrop for a hike to Trolltunga—the Troll’s tongue. You may not recognize the name, but the image is unmistakable. Buzzfeed described Trolltunga as the “most stunning place in the world to take a selfie.”
This hike involves an long, strenuous climb that will take most of the day, but the for the fit hiker who is unafraid of heights, this is a trail you’ll never forget. Guided hikes are also available.
Photo credit: Rene Rivers – Creative Commons
Many people think of Mammoth Lakes as a great winter sports destination (they’re right). But it’s also a gateway to fantastic day hiking in the majestic Sierra mountains. You can take a shuttle (it’s mandatory) from town down to Red’s Meadow; visit the unusual geologic formation known as Devil’s Postpile National Monument; hike to the impressive Rainbow Falls; and cap it all off with a well-earned hand-scooped milkshake at the Red’s Meadow cafe.
Both the 211-mile John Muir Trail and the epic Pacific Crest Trail travel right through this valley, so be sure to wander down the path a bit. Congratulations! You just hiked a section of the PCT!
Photo credit: Marvin Chandra – Creative Commons
Oahu has beautiful beaches, and lush green mountains. The 7 mile round trip hike up Pu’u Ohulehule is a strenuous climb with a big reward—expansive views over the Windward side of the island. The 2,265’ summit is the perfect place to break for lunch.
Photo credit: Diana Robinson – Creative Commons
The Grand Tetons certainly are grand. Just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, this national park has a wealth of hiking trails for all levels, and some of the best are actually pretty easy, like the 7.1 loop around Jenny Lake.
Best of all? The views of the toothy peaks are a truly magnificent from a distance.
Photo credit: Bastian Sander – Creative Commons
The Canadian Rockies are known for their iconic peaks and glacier-blue lakes. The 6.6 mile Plain of Six Glaciers trail gives you impressive views of Mt Lefroy, Mt Victoria and Victoria Glacier. It is considered one of the most scenic hikes in the Canadian Rockies.
And you can drop in at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House for high tea.
Photo credit: Tom “Andertho” – Creative Commons
Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County is a short drive from San Francisco, yet a world away. There are six miles of trails, with a 1/2 hour, 1 hour and 1-1/2 hour loop. Walking through Muir Woods you’ll be among old-growth redwood trees—the tallest living things in the world. The tallest on record is as tall as a 37-story skyscraper.
Photo credit: Els “Pixelshoot”– Creative Commons
The Lauterbrunnental in the Swiss Alps is the world’s largest glacial valley — even bigger than Yosemite. Cascading down it’s walls you’ll count 72 waterfalls, including some of the tallest in Europe. Hike the six-mile loop from Lauterbrunnen to village of Mürren, with a gentle forest path, dozens of streams to hop across, and plenty of spectacular views along the way.
You can stop for wine and cheese at Mürren, and if your legs get tired on the way back, catch a tram from the lovely village of Gimmelwald.
Zion National Park
Photo credit: Jeff Hester
The majestic red rock canyons of Zion National Park tower above you as you wind along the Virgin River. This is a wonderful place to hike, with trails for all levels. Everything from the family-friendly Emerald Pools to the wet Narrows, all the way to the oh-so-frightening hike up to Angels Landing. Be sure to bring plenty of water and start early to avoid the crowds, and the heat.
It’s impossible to cover all the wonderful day hikes to explore in a list so short, so consider this as simply a good start. What trails would you recommend where you live?
This post originally appeared on HomeExchange.com. HomeExchange.com helps you cut your travel costs, and day hikes will let you explore those destinations in a way that many people never experience.