This is a rugged ridge in the Hudson Highlands near Cortlandt Manor. An elevation gain of 1,000 feet—a lot of vert for the rolling hills of Wisconsin—is enough to earn a plate of sliders and a flight of whiskey at Driftless Glen Distillery, three miles from the trailhead. But the Backbone Trail though the Kisatchie Hills Wilderness offers escape from the swamp. Starting at Exit Glacier, you’ll climb 1,000 feet through forest and meadows, eventually ending above tree line at the edge of a 700-square-mile ice field. If you want the 360-degree views at the top of Mount Cascade to yourself, get up early and watch the sunrise from the summit — no Insta filter needed.
Anthony’s Nose, Peekskill, 900 feet The vista at the top of this mini-mountain (supposedly named for a pre-Revolutionary War captain with a Cyrano sniffer) “is like a helicopter view of the Bear Mountain Bridge” and the Hudson River, says Catherine of this six-mile/three-hour loop, which is also part of the Appalachian Trail. On the lake’s northwest side sit 100-foot quartzite cliffs that are popular with climbers. The hike begins just off Route 6.
Watkins GlenDistance: 2.4 miles You’ll feel like Indiana Jones, winding through caves, across bridges, and over waterfalls — 19 of them, to be exact. With all the ups and downs, one climbs up about 1,500 feet total (the Empire State Building is only 1,250 feet). Devil’s Lake State Park, the third oldest in Wisconsin, is home to 100 bird species and 800 types of plants. Plus they can be tackled together in a single, not-too-challenging hike; once you’ve conquered Cascade, it’s only another mile or so to bag Porter. —Kelsey Lindsey, assistant editor
1. Suessian longleaf pines. From Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York State, to the popular peaks such as Cascade and Porter, the famed 46 High Peaks provide endless opportunities for recreation and stunning views. This popular hike is a 2.2-mile loop with scenic views of the pond and surrounding mountains, wildlife- and bird-watching opportunities, and a boardwalk stroll through a hemlock grove. —Abigail Wise, online managing editor. That and the proximity to downtown Lake Placid makes this an extremely popular hike. Think it can’t sound any better than that? Nearby post-hike stops include Mongaup Pond Campground (pictured), which has a beach for swimming and canoe rentals, picnic tables, and an accessible fishing pier, or Catskill Fish Hatchery, which offers tours (8 am–4 pm Monday through Friday, 8 am–noon on weekends and holidays).
Cascade and Porter Mountains Lake PlacidDistance: 5.6 miles Among the 46 mountains that make up the Adirondack High Peaks, these are two of the most accessible. Hike the High Peaks
It’s a little touristy by Alaska standards, and there are definitely more-secluded hikes in the state, but the 8.2-mile Harding Icefield Trail, in Kenai Fjords National Park, is still the best bang for your buck. This one of the more popular parks in the Finger Lakes region, so aim for off-peak hours if you don’t want too many randos in your pics.
It’s hard to get high in Louisiana, where the mean elevation is just 100 feet and New Orleans actually sits below sea level. —K.B.
Home to the most iconic peaks in the Adirondack Mountains, the Lake Placid Region is surrounded by legendary hiking trails and summits. The wide stone pathway has been carved into the rock and makes for easy walking, so instead of looking down at your feet you can gawk at the dramatic rock formations and pools around you. Those looking for a longer hike can start on the Camp Smith Trail.
It’s not the length that makes this quick five-mile loop the best in the Badger State, but the views, which range from waterside—looking over Devil’s Lake—to the thick forest of the East Bluff Woods. Savor on-high views from 300-foot outcrops and, in spring, blooming azaleas. Keep an eye out for armadillos. A steep, 500-foot rock staircase takes you up the first section of the 2.6-mile hike, then a relatively flat trail leads to an overlook with views of the Hudson River and Bear Mountain Bridge. This 7.7-mile path scales sandstone hills topped with Dr.