When summer rolls around, there is nowhere many people want to be more than in the great outdoors, especially on a gorgeous hike. Getting fresh air and exercise is good for the mind and body, as well as a safer bet in this era of COVID-19.
If you are able to access the coastal areas of the country, you’ll find hikes in some of the most beautiful places on earth. You can even make your trip easier on your wallet with one of the best no-annual-fee travel credit cards.
Here are 15 U.S. coastal hikes you must experience to believe.
Ocean Path, Maine
Starting at the top of the country is Maine, a state known for long winters and stunning summers. It’s also home to Ocean Path in Acadia National Park, a 4.2-mile trail that has it all, from beaches to mountains to lakes.
Be sure to check out Thunder Hole, a natural inlet in which ocean waves crash, sometimes sounding like thunder.
Coastal Trail, Maine
Coastal Trail in Quoddy Head State Park is another gorgeous Maine trail that folks who love to hike should not miss.
This 4-mile trek does have some challenging sections, but it’s worth it to catch an epic sunrise, gaze down at the surging tidal waters, and spot three different kinds of whales — minke, finback, and humpback.
Provincetown Dunes, Massachusetts
South of Maine you’ll find Massachusetts, home to the Provincetown Dunes in the Cape Cod National Seashore. This 2.8-mile hike takes you along the most beautiful coastline in the state, where wild roses bloom during the summer season.
You’ll also spot the dune shacks, where artists-in-residence have created art for decades.
Parallel Trail, Georgia
Don’t sleep on Georgia when it comes to outdoor splendor, including the Parallel Trail on Cumberland Island. This 15-mile trail will take you under trees draped in Spanish Moss that swings in the breeze. The trail overlooks the sea from the east coast of this barrier island.
Keep your eye out for armadillos and wild horses along the way.
Florida Trail, University of Western Florida
Looking for free summer fun in the Sunshine State? Look no further than the section of the Florida Trail at the University of West Florida Dunes Preserve.
This 3.4-mile coastal hike is located in the panhandle of the state — known for its beautiful beaches — and overlooks the Gulf of Mexico and the Santa Rosa Sound for double water views.
Caladesi Island State Park Trail, Florida
Also in Florida is Caladesi Island State Park, located on the Gulf of Mexico. The sand under your feet on this flat, 2.8-mile trail is as soft as sugar, and the water is a striking turquoise and blue on sunny days.
The dolphin-spotting in this area is excellent, and you will spot a variety of seabirds who call the island home.
Scoville Point Loop, Michigan
If Michigan isn’t on your list of fun summer travel destinations, it should be. There, you can hike the Scoville Point Loop in Isle Royale National Park.
This 4.4-mile coastal trek overlooks Lake Superior, and has plenty of sweeping views that will take your breath away. You might even spot a wolf or a moose if you’re lucky in this northern paradise.
Ozette Triangle, Washington
Moving to the West Coast of the U.S. and starting in Washington, you will find Ozette Triangle, also known as Cape Alava Loop. This 9.4-mile hike takes you from a lake through the woods to the stunning Pacific Ocean.
Don’t miss the ancient petroglyphs carved by the ancestors of the indigenous people in the area, found at Wedding Rocks. There’s also a museum of the Makah people.
Dungeness Spit Trail, Washington
Another stunning coastal hike in Washington state is the Dungeness Spit Trail, nestled in a wildlife refuge teeming with birds and sea life.
Five miles of this 11-mile trail are right on the beach, which is best accessed at low tide. At the end of the hike, you are rewarded with views of the New Dungeness Lighthouse.
Crescent Beach Trail, Oregon
South of Washington in Oregon is Ecola State Park, home to the Crescent Beach Trail. This rugged 2.5-mile trek takes you to the picturesque Crescent Beach, where you can look for eagles, elk, and maybe even whales if you’re lucky.
Nearby, you’ll also find Cannon Beach, which is worth a gander.
Cape Perpetua Hike, Oregon
Oregon is also home to the Cape Perpetua Hike in Siuslaw National Forest, a 6.5-mile loop that’s constantly shrouded in coastal fog.
Here you’ll find cliffs that have formed out of lava, evidence of volcanic activity from years gone by. There are also the remains of sea caves and trees so tall they will take your breath away.
Lost Coast Trail, California
The Golden State has some of the most gorgeous coastal views in the entire country. This includes the Lost Coast Trail, specifically the Mattole to Black Sands Beach section.
As the name of the beach suggests, you’ll be dazzled by black sand beaches on this long, 24.6-mile hike. It’s a strenuous trip, but well worth the Pacific Coast vistas NorCal is famed for.
Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop, California
Moving from NorCal all the way south to San Diego, you’ll find the Torrey Pines Beach Trail Loop. This 3.1-mile trek will treat you to stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, which radiates a dazzling blue in the sunlight.
The popular loop will give you the cliffside experience without making you too nervous about heights.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
If you’ve racked up enough points with one of the best travel rewards credit cards, maybe you’ll finally take that bucket-list trip to Hawaii. One of the most famous coastal hikes in the Aloha State is the Kalalau Trail.
This hike is not for the faint of heart: It’s 22 miles of switchbacks and waterfalls overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Don’t miss this incredible trail.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Alaska
Last on our list is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage. This paved, 11-mile hike is popular with walkers and bikers alike, and overlooks towering mountain giants, marshlands, and pristine ocean water.
You may even spot eagles or a moose on this trail, making it a perfect Alaskan experience.
No two coastal hikes are alike, as this list clearly illustrates. From flat and sunny beaches to foggy and chilly cliffs, these trails offer diverse beauty to people of all ability levels.
That’s why it’s important to protect these wild treasures and keep them available to everyone. If one of these coastal hikes is near you, get out and explore it this summer.
And don't forget to book your trip with one of the best travel credit cards to help you afford to go again next year.
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