10 (North American) Destinations for Beginner Hikers

As a first-time hiker, my first exploration was on a Texas trail in Garner State Park. This was a first of many excellent beginner hikes near where I lived in San Antonio. I didn’t have trekking poles. Nor did I have a backpack. I wasn’t wearing sturdy shoes. With a half empty bottle of water in one hand, I grumbled my way around each switchback.

Want to know more about Garner State Park? Check out my related post, Best Day Hikes in the Texas Hill Country!

I love being outdoors, but honestly…I don’t enjoy the bugs biting my ankles or sweating through my shirt. What was I doing this all for? I was exhausted and forming blisters on my feet.

Suddenly, as the trail flattened out, I noticed a clearing in the trees. I stumbled to the edge of the cliff and the breath caught in my throat. A sweeping view of the entire park greeted us. The Frio River danced its way through the hills and the jagged edges of Old Baldy arched beside us.

I was hooked after that. The blisters, the bugs, the sweat, the mud, nor the scraped knees bothered me anymore. I knew every strenuous step was worthwhile to witness the unique beauty of each trail.

Below are a handful of beginner hikes that I have personally completed and believe would be perfect treks for those who are interested in testing the waters. I chose these trails based on how simple they are to navigate, relative ease of the terrain, and how epic the rewards are for exploring the trail.

Need help determining if you’re ready for your first hike? Check out my blog post Cheap Hiking Essentials to get you on the right foot!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission (at no extra charge to you) if you make a purchase after clicking my link.

1. Boquillas Canyon Trail – Big Bend National Park, Texas

Boquillas Canyon Trail
  • Out and back trail
  • 1.2 miles round trip
  • Rated as moderate

Boquillas Canyon was our first hike on our full day in Big Bend National Park. At dawn, we started the hike and nobody was in the parking lot. By the time we explored the canyon and headed back to the car, the parking lot was still empty.

I personally love having a trail all to myself! It was peaceful seeing the colors of sunrise peek over the cliffs while listening to the Rio Grande river flow along the trail. For little effort, stunning views of the river and canyon are visible around every turn. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a grazing cow or horse across the river.

Boquillas Canyon is a great beginner hike because it’s short and relatively easy to follow- you just stick to the river!

Boquillas Canyon Trail

2. Johnston Canyon Trail to Lower Falls – Banff National Park, Canada

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls
  • Out and back trail
  • 1.5 miles round trip
  • Rated as easy

Johnston Canyon trail in Banff National Park is a great choice for a beginner hiker because the majority of the trail is a boardwalk. If you wish to extend the hike, you could easily make it more challenging by continuing on to the Upper Falls or Ink Pots.

However, the trail to Lower Falls is simply stunning with canyon, river, and, of course, waterfall views. We navigated the trail in the evening right before dark and there were only a handful of other people at the falls with us.

Johnston Canyon

3. Mammoth Hot Springs Area Trail – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Mammoth Hot Springs
  • Loop trail
  • 3.5 miles round trip
  • Rated as easy

Yellowstone National Park is known for its hot springs, geysers, and colorful ink pots. A plus about the Mammoth Hot Springs Trail is you don’t have to complete the entire loop to see some of these incredible things!

There are a network of cracks and fissures in the limestone where the heated water reaches the surface. Colors of the pools will change with the hot and cold temperatures of the seasons.

TIP: DO NOT step off the boardwalk and DO NOT throw coins or other trash into the pools.

Although this is one of the most popular trails in the park, we had the entire boardwalk to ourselves. Be there at sunrise to beat the crowds and for a better chance of spotting wildlife.

Mammoth Hot Springs

4. Takakkaw Falls Trail – Yoho National Park, Canada

Takakkaw Falls
  • Out and back trail
  • 0.9 mile round trip
  • Rated as easy

Despite the fact that we hiked the Takakkaw Falls Trail in Yoho National Park in the middle of the day, the trail wasn’t overly congested. However, as you can see from the photo, plenty of folks were hanging out and taking pictures at the base of the falls.

Takakkaw falls is the second tallest waterfall in Canada and makes for an extremely impressive sight for such a short hike.

5. Devils Postpile Loop – Mammoth Lakes, California

Devils Postpile National Monument
  • Loop trail
  • 1.6 miles round trip
  • Rated as easy

Devils Postpile Loop is located at Devils Postpile National Monument near Mammoth Lakes, California. We explored the postpile in the middle of the day and there was plenty of company on the trail. We also spotted some people climbing along the top of the postpile.

The short beginner hike offers a rare opportunity to see one of earth’s most unique geological phenomena. Devil’s Postpile is composed of hexagonal-shaped rock columns, called columnar basalt, formed during lava flow over 100,000 years ago.

TIP: Devils Postpile National Monument is closed for the season and expects to re-open in June 2020.

6. Mobius Arch Loop Trail – Lone Pine, California

Mt. Whitney through the Mobius Arch
  • Loop trail
  • 0.6 mile round trip
  • Rated as easy

Mobius Arch Loop Trail in Alabama Hills Recreational Area is an easy trek around many different rock formations. Who said you can only find arches in Utah? In the middle of the day, we shared the trail with only one other couple.

What makes this trail really special is the clear, stunning views of Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, and surrounding mountain peaks in the distance. Don’t forget to try to find the “Heart Arch” along the hike!

Mobius Arch Loop Trail

7. Canyon Rim South Trail to Point Sublime – Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Lower Falls in Yellowstone National Park
  • Out and back trail
  • 6.4 miles round trip
  • Rated as easy

Canyon Rim South Trail in Yellowstone National Park is another great option to explore as little or as much of the trail as you’d like. Artist Point, which marks the beginning of the hike, offers a picture perfect view of the lower falls. Then, hiking along the edge of the canyon, are sheer drop offs that justify their name as the grand canyon of Yellowstone.

Our hike began around 8AM. Though Artist Point had plenty of tourists hanging about, the remainder of  the trail was completely empty besides the occasional chipmunk. We did not hike all the way to sublime point, but the colors of the canyon and sounds of the river offered memories that will last a lifetime.

TIP: Parts of the South Rim Trail are closed to due to the canyon overlooks and trails restoration project. Be sure to check the park website for updates.

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

8. Big Trees Trail – Sequoia National Park, California

Big Trees Trail
  • Loop trail
  • 1.3 miles round trip
  • Rated as easy

Big Trees Trail is in Sequoia National Park, just south of the General Sherman tree. You can easily combine this trail with the General Sherman trail for a full day of epic Redwood sights! The enormity of these trees cannot be understated. You absolutely must see it for yourself to believe it.

This trail is well paved and well shaded (haha), so you can enjoy the hike at any time of day! The hike was reasonably crowded, however many paths wove to different trees to keep foot traffic flowing.

9. Cape Royal Trail – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Angels Window
  • Out and back trail
  • 1 mile round trip
  • Rated as easy

Cape Royal Trail includes a stunning view of Angels Window. You’ll find this trail at the end of the Cape Royal scenic drive on the North Rim in Grand Canyon National Park.

The hike was somewhat busy; although, we did enjoy the viewing platform uninterrupted long enough to explore every angle.

TIP: The viewing platform at Angels Window is EXTREMELY windy! Be sure to hold on to the railing at all times.

Cape Royal Trail in Grand Canyon National Park

10. Perkins Central Garden Trail – Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Perkins Central Garden Trail
  • Loop trail
  • 1.1 miles round trip
  • Rated as easy

Perkins Central Garden Trail is located in the Garden of the Gods area in Colorado Springs. There are many beginner hikes in the Garden of the Gods and nearly all of them are full to the brim. We struggled for a bit to find a parking spot for this trail. However, once we started on the trail, it wasn’t as congested as we feared it would be.

Our favorite spot along the hike was the famous kissing camels! Can you see them in the photo below?

Kissing Camels Garden of the Gods, Colorado

As a beginner hiker, there are an abundance of trails to explore that introduce you to the challenges of longer treks. In addition, these beginner hikes are still packed with incredible scenery and wildlife! Little effort for BIG experiences? Yes, please!

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Howdy! I’m Breanna and I’m intensely passionate about creativity, outdoor exploration, and food! My goal is to inspire you to embrace your adventurous side and experience the joy of God’s earth through my lens. 🙂

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