Ten Underrated (but Epic) US Day Hikes

by | Oct 30, 2020 | Location Reviews

Explore the USA with a Car Nomad who loves to hike. Mike shares ten underrated US day hikes in this article.

Greetings from the dirt paths to all of you Happy Hikers! My name is Mike Rudd and I am an outdoor adventure writer, hiking/outdoors junkie, and part of the HPH Community. I’m STOKED to be doing a guest blog series on hiking for HPH. I am going to primarily share with you hiking ideas and tips around the lower 48 of the US. While being a nomad living out of my car. In this article I am going to share Ten Underrated US Day Hikes.

My wife & I made the choice to put belongings in a storage unit and head West to enjoy the more wide open outdoor spaces and to hike our butts off safely during COVID19.  As opposed to living in our downtown apartment in one of the 15 biggest cities in America.

It turns out this has been just as beautiful and unforgettable of an experience as any international trip.

I’ve learned a lot about new hiking trails, about myself, and of course about the outdoor spaces in the lower 48.  And I’ve been hiking in these spaces since I was two years old!

I am sharing in this article 10 Hikes we did while being COVID19 Car Nomads. (We also do long-term airbnb rentals if you are curious). So yes we get the chance to work and shower and sleep in beds too!

Hopefully you find a new place to add to your must do hiking list, I kept it to one hike per state as well and went in order of the states we visited. 

Here we go…ten underrated US Day Hikes!

Bunsen Peak, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming.
It’s not just about the geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone. This is a great day hike located near Mammoth Hot Springs region that will get you sweating while giving you sweeping views of this beautiful National Park. Plus a mountain summit in America’s first National Park. BRING YO BEAR SPRAY!

Goat Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho.

A mostly unmarked trail just outside of the town of Stanley Idaho.  The map at the trailhead gives good directions. But once you begin it loses trail markers to Goat Lake though you do follow a trail the whole way. This lake is as pretty of a turquoise blue as I have seen anywhere in the world and you’ll likely have the place to yourself. Bring hiking poles and an ability to boulder hop. It’s a 10/10 in beauty and workout.

Snyder Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana.
With limited options due to the East Side of the park being closed this was a dandy alternative after doing the very popular Avalanche Lake the previous day.  It’s a long day hike and gives you an alpine lake, isolation, meadows, wildflowers, and trees.  Once again…if you didn’t use it at Yellowstone…BRING YO BEAR SPRAY! If you did use it at Yellowstone, buy some more :).

The Enchantments, Alpine Wilderness, Washington.

Note: This was a multi-day backpacking trip.
This can be done as a day hike but we scored backcountry permits for “The Snow Zone.” Located just outside of Leavenworth WashingtonI had never heard of this place prior to bidding for permits with a friend. It’s now my vote as the most beautiful place in the lower 48 of the United States. I don’t have enough magic to put behind my words of how gorgeous and pristine this place is. WOW. Bid on those permits or be ready to hike a marathon in a day hike.

Here are more five underrated US Day Hikes!

Myrtle Tree Tail & Rogue River National Forest Area, Gold Beach, Oregon.
The tallest Myrtle Tree in Oregon is a short loop hike that can be combined with several other grove hikes in this amazing old growth forest region in Oregon. I added on a bike ride to the trailhead and a dip in the Rogue River and had the place to myself.  It’s a gem of a hike in an area more known for fishing.

Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California.
The highest point of the least visited National Park in California is a hard hike with stunning views, blue skies, and a little bit of fun bouldering to reach the summit. You’ll be at over 10,000 feet and looking down on alpine lakes, steam from the nearby boiling mud pits, and wondering to yourself why more people don’t talk about this National Park.

Brins Mesa & Soldier Pass, Coconino National Forest, Arizona.
Sweeping views of the iconic Red Rocks of Sedona, a trip to the Seven Sacred Pools, and the largest sinkhole in Sedona. Oh plus vortex energy waves, cacti, and an outstanding workout. What else did you say you wanted to find in a day hike? I also did an article for HPH HERE on Five Dog Friendly Sedona Hikes!

And let’s finish this last out in the American Southwest!

Page Rim Trail, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah/Arizona.
I had signed up for a half marathon in Glen Canyon and around Lake Powell and they shifted the course to this trail due to COVID19. I ran it solo (not on race day). It’s an amazing hiking or trail running trail if you aren’t satisfied with the small walk to the epic Horseshoe Bend when in Page. It’s not on Navajo Land so it is currently open and a great add-on if headed through Page or Glen Canyon.

Backcountry Camping Trail, White Sands National Park, New Mexico.
The newest National Park has just a few marked trails but wow the sand dunes here are pristine White. As you might know from the name.  I love the dunes in Death Valley and Great Sand Dunes National Park but these have just an extra special dose of epic white that make them sparkle off the beautiful blue New Mexico Skies.

Seven Magic Mountains, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Not a hike as much of a cool spot to see art on BLM land just outside of the Las Vegas Strip and do a nice walk about/leg stretch when road tripping in the region.  Add this with a trip to Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire State Park and see what can happen when art & protected outdoor land are put into combination.

We have hiked plenty more places and done some more well known hiking gems.

But I really love sharing less popular trails in wild spaces some might not realize exist.

Exploring America’s National Parks and National Forests are a healthy way to get outside while staying safe,

IF you want to read more check out our Top Ten US National Parks Article HERE!

Do you have any questions on these hiking trails? Or others in the regions of these?
Comment below and hopefully will see you on a dirt path soon!

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May we get to hike more because after all, Happy People Hike!


Mike Rudd

Mike Rudd

Nomad, Dood Dad, Planet Lover. Hashtag59 & Happy People Hike Lead Intern. Freelance Writer and Content Creator. Health and Wellness Curator.

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