Hiking Trails for All Levels: A Guide to Exploring the Great Outdoors

Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities and it can be enjoyed by many different age groups, levels of athleticism and skill sets. Hiking trails provide the perfect opportunity to connect with nature, enjoy the fresh air and escape the stresses of life. With thousands of hikes to choose from, selecting the right trail for your skill level can be daunting. Here is a guide to the best hiking trails for all levels – from novice to advanced – so you can get the most out of your outdoor enthusiast lifestyle.


Hiking is a great way to explore the outdoors and get some exercise. It’s suitable for all ages, levels of fitness and experience. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for an adventure, a novice wanting to take their first steps into the outdoors, or a family looking to escape the city for a day – there’s a hiking trail to suit everyone.

Before you hit the trail, make sure you’re prepared. Even the shortest of hikes require some level of planning and preparation to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience. Check the weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing; choose the right trail for your level of experience and skill set; read up on any trail information and plan your route; pack a first aid kit and snacks; inform others of your plans; and don’t forget water.

Novice Trails

If you’re a beginner or a first-time hiker – or are hiking with children – you’ll want to start out with an easy, low-impact trail. Novice trails tend to be shorter, usually up to 3 miles, with a gentle incline and no major obstacles. Here are some great beginner trails to get you started.

• Hidden Valley Trail – San Diego, CA: This easy 2.5-mile loop incorporates some elevation gain and features a beautiful wildflower meadow.

• Laurel Highlands Trail – Pennsylvania: This 70-mile scenic trail traverses through mountains, rivers and historical sites. It’s moderate in difficulty and is best suited for novice hikers or beginner backpackers.

• Coyote Wall Trail – Washington: This 1.5-mile out-and-back trail is a great option for novice hikers, thanks to its flat terrain and almost no elevation gain.

Intermediate Trails

Most trails are marked with a green, blue or black sign, signifying their level of difficulty. If you’re more of an intermediate hiker – with more experience under your belt – try tackling a blue or green-marked trail. These trails usually have more elevation gain, steeper terrain and longer distances. Here are some of the best intermediate trails.

• Desolation Wilderness – California: This 68,000-acre alpine backcountry is crisscrossed with over 350 miles of trails. Choose from a variety of blue-marked routes, perfect for the intermediate hiker.

• North Country Trail – USA: Stretching 4,600 miles across seven states, the North Country Trail offers a variety of trail types suitable for intermediate hikers. Explore remote areas, diverse landscapes and historical sites.

• Mark Twain National Forest – Missouri: Spanning over 1 million acres, this national forest features hundreds of trails ranging from easy to difficult. Choose a green-marked trail for a more challenging trek.

Advanced Trails

For the advanced, experienced hiker looking for more of a challenge, try tackling a black-marked trail. These trails tend to have rougher terrain, longer distances, and more elevation gain. Here are some of the most popular advanced trails.

• White Mountain National Forest – New Hampshire: This vast national forest is home to the notoriously difficult Mount Washington, plus hundreds of miles of trails, perfect for the more experienced hiker.

• Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona: The incredible Grand Canyon boasts some of the most challenging and rewarding hiking trails in the US. Choose a black-marked trail for a thrilling, advanced trek!

• Pacific Crest Trail – California/Washington: This 2,650-mile trail traverses through the US’s most stunning mountain ranges and forests. Suitable only for experienced hikers, traverse all or any length of the PCT for a truly unique experience

Safety First

No matter what your level of experience – beginner or advanced – it’s always important to stay safe when hiking. Make sure you’re prepared for the trail and know your limitations. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back. Take a first aid kit, full water bottle and map. Lastly, check the local and national regulations and keep an eye out for wildlife.

Hiking is an enjoyable and healthy outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by all. With thousands of trails to choose from, there’s a trek for everyone – from novice to advanced. Now that you’re better informed about all the trails available for hiking, it’s time to break out your backpack and hit the trails. Whether you’re exploring picturesque forests and rivers, scaling mountains, or enjoying alpine meadows – hiking rocks!