Traveling the U.S. for the year has given us ample opportunities to hike some of America’s best trails. In fact, we’ve done at least one hike in each state, more so if you count urban hiking (we’ve averaged about 8 miles a day on our city explorations, so we’re firmly in the “yes” column on that one).
Of course, not all of them are earth shattering. Thankfully, when the hike’s a little less stimulating, Carson does not “entertain” me with nature puns. Instead we often use the time to talk about those ideas, fears or dreams that unearth themselves after so much time spent in silence. That’s the fun part of travel. Everyday brings new stimuli that trudges up memories you’d forgotten; people whose names you half remember; fears you’d considered but hadn’t confirmed with words. Lucky, this list of amazing hikes in the South has something for everyone. Enough space to relax your mind, yet also some amazing vistas and wildlife and switchbacks so you don’t annoy your partner to the point of no return with puns.
Skyline Drive Trail, fort davis, Tx
This trail in Davis Mountain State Park will give you amazing vistas of McDonald Observatory; the Indian Lodge; your campsite and the surrounding towns. It’s a bit of a steep, meandering climb for the first .75 miles but evens out from there. Terrain is rocky, so watch out for your pup’s paws. But it’s a fun view of the area and a relatively easy hike.
Gambusia Nature Trail, port arthur, Tx
We had a rough time at Sea Rim State Park for all who remember, but there was one highlight: this boardwalk! It’s such a treat. I’ve never been on a trail quite like this. It’s literally a man-made boardwalk that meanders you through the marshland for a mile. We had hoped to see a gator, but got lots of birds and reeds and water instead. It was a good trade, IMHO.
T.O. Fuller Trail, Memphis, tn
Some people might say “what’s so special about this trail?” But you know, while it’s not the most nature-y, this trail was fun. We got to walk all the way around the park, see different terrain, go out onto an abandoned road, find old park shelters and fireplaces. It was just kind of a fun hike. It was also freezing the day we did it, which made us feel pretty cool.
Fall Creek Falls Trail, chattanooga, TN
THE FALLS. That’s pretty much all you need to know about the trails around this park. Okay, that was a lie. But please do not miss the falls. Take the trail to the base of the falls — there are a lot of cool craggy rock faces and cave like structures and rock walls. Plus there’s a rock you can climb down at the base and get some cool waterfall shots. Oh, and do the cable bridge! It’s fun.
POINT LOOKOUT TRAIL, Panther Creek State Park, TN
We ran to Point Lookout overlooking Lake Cherokee and it was the first time I had almost thrown up from running in a really long time. It was steep! But the view was so worth it. Don’t run, HIKE to Point Lookout if you get here. You won’t be disappointed. We also hiked the Maple Arch trail one afternoon. It’s listed as moderately difficult. I would 100% classify this as difficult. It’s just over 3 miles, but took us three hours to complete! Lots of ups and downs and rocky areas. It was slow going, but Costello swam in Lake Cherokee and we had water so we were happy.
LAKE TRAIL, Wall Doxey State Park, oxford, MS
This was a lovely, yet creepy park we stayed at in Mississippi. The park has old CCC remnants and a hauntingly beautiful club house nestled on a lake. And there’s a short trail that walks the perimeter of said lake and it’s beautiful. Take your dog. Walk it several times as we did. And go in the summer. We stayed during the winter and there was hardly a soul in the park and we never saw and ranger and our pipes froze and I got kind of scared. Anywho: do the trail.
FORT YARGO TRAIL, Fort Yargo State Park, atlanta, GA
When my mom visited, we took the 7 mile trail around the lake and park at Fort Yargo. We saw Fort Yargo, the namesake of the park. And we watched rowers in the lake and stood at the dam every morning walking Stello and it was great! It’s just an easy, well-kept trail that you shouldn’t miss.
Ravens Rock and CooperS Rock TRAILS, morganton, WV
Please go to Coopers Rock State Forest. Hike to the overlook, which was built by CCC and is the most amazing viewing platform / scenic outlook I’ve seen on the trip. It’s truly amazing! Also take the lesser known Raven’s Rock trail. The outlook there is equally amazing, though there is no defined overlook. So be careful, okay?
Paris Mountain, greenville, SC
We, admittedly, didn’t get too far on the miles and miles of trails at Paris Mountain. But we did walk the trail around the lake several times. And we awed and oohed at the dam spillover and this park is lovely. Hike any of the trails and you’ll be happy. (Also: another CCC gem!)
Raptor observatory, monroe county, WV
We suspect the locals here in Marion County have kept this overlook trail mostly unmarked for a reason: they're keeping the view all to themselves. With vistas that incorporate both the densely forested Alleghenies and immaculate pastorals in between, the Hanging Rock Raptor Observatory in West Virginia is an absolute must-see for hikers of any level.
HARD TIMES TRAIL, LAKE POWHATAN CAMPGROUND, ASHEVILLE, NC
This trail was just outside our campground at Lake Powhatan. It’s a six mile loop that goes through the North Carolina arboretum and gives you glimpses of the Biltmore compound through the trees. It also skirts a portion of the Blue Ridge Highway and it wide, easy and meandering. You’ll lose your mind (in a good way) on this classic Asheville trail.