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15 Solo Hiking Trips In The US (3-Day Itineraries For Each)

I’ve been a solo traveler for almost a decade now and I am just finally planning my own solo trip around the US. I’m on the hunt for epic solo hikes around the country so that I can get a taste of the national parks across the country.

And who knows, maybe I’ll meet some rad fellow hikers along the way ๐Ÿ™‚

Whether you’re looking for a road trip like me or you just want a quick weekend getaway hiking solo, this list will give you something to drool over.

Iโ€™ll include links to the AllTrails trail map and resources for planning your little getaway. I got you ๐Ÿ˜˜

Okay, now let’s get into my favorite places for a solo hike in the US.

Solo Hiking Trips in the West 

I’m starting with the West because it’s my favorite place in the whole entire world to go hiking. Although, it’s also the only place in the entire world where I’ve seen a handgun strapped to a hiker’s chest, which made it markedly less peaceful than anywhere else I’ve hiked in the world.

Welcome to the Wild West. Here are some solo hike destinations where the views make it all worth it.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park is a hiker’s paradise, offering over 300 miles of trails that range from flat lakeside strolls to challenging steep mountain peak climbs. You might see elk grazing in the meadows, marmots basking on rocks, and if you’re really lucky, a glimpse of the elusive moose. Just remember to keep your cool around the wildlife. They’re not as fond of selfies as we are.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Where to Stay

Estes Park is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park and a charming mountain town. Here you can find a range of accommodations from luxury resorts to cute cabins. Just don’t get too freaked out if you hear a bugling elk right outside your window.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Bear Lake to Emerald Lake โ€“ Start your journey in the heart of the park. This hike takes you past four stunning alpine lakes and offers up some of the best views in the park. Don’t forget to catch your breath, both from the sights and the altitude!
  • Day 2: Sky Pond via Glacier Gorge Trail โ€“ This challenging hike rewards you with one of the most beautiful alpine lakes in the Rockies. The last stretch requires some scrambling, but the views of Sky Pond are worth every effort.
  • Day 3: Longs Peak โ€“ If you’re up for a challenge, Longs Peak is a beast of a hike, but the view from the top is something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Be sure to start early to avoid afternoon thunderstorms.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit is from June to September when the snow has melted, and most trails are accessible. Keep in mind that the park gets pretty crowded in summer, so consider visiting in the shoulder months if you prefer a bit of solitude.

Denver International Airport is about two hours away from the park, making it the most convenient option for flying in. And if you’re up for a road trip, you’ll find that Colorado’s highways are as picturesque as they come.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The Grand Teton range stands tall and proud, with jagged peaks that pierce the sky. The park offers over 200 miles of trails, serene alpine lakes, and some of the most stunning mountain landscapes you’ve ever seen. And wildlife? Oh boy, you’re in for a treat. From moose to pronghorns, and from black bears to bald eagles, this is a wildlife lover’s paradise.

Where to Stay

Jackson Hole is the best place to be. This town oozes old-timey charm and offers plenty of accommodations, from luxury resorts to rustic lodges. Plus, it’s home to some top-notch grub – so make sure you pack your appetite along with your hiking gear.

HOWEVER itโ€™s insanely expensive (didnโ€™t the Kardashians just vacation there??), so look for places around the area instead. I really like Driggs, Idaho, which is on the other side of the Tetons and is filled with epic hikes and zero tourists on the trails.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Jenny Lake Loop โ€“ Start your Teton adventure with a leisurely hike around Jenny Lake, a stunning glacier-formed lake at the base of the Tetons. The views are nothing short of spectacular, and if you’re feeling adventurous, a side trip to Hidden Falls is well worth the detour.
  • Day 2: Cascade Canyon โ€“ This trail offers a bit of everything โ€“ alpine meadows, pine forests, cascading waterfalls, and impressive views of the Grand Teton. Remember to keep your camera ready. The views โ€“ and wildlife โ€“ can surprise you around any bend.
  • Day 3: Teton Crest Trail โ€“ If you’re up for a challenge, this trail offers some of the best high-altitude trekking in the park. The panoramic views of the Teton Range are a sight to behold. Just remember, it’s not a race. Take your time and soak in the views.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Grand Teton National Park is from May to September when the weather is warm, and all facilities and roads are open. But if you’re a fan of winter sports, the park offers unparalleled skiing and snowshoeing opportunities.

The closest airport is Jackson Hole Airport, conveniently located right in the park. If you’re driving, U.S. Highway 89 leads straight into the park.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Zion National Park, Utah

Located in Utah’s southwestern corner, Zion is a geological wonderland that’s bursting with hues of red, pink, and cream. The park boasts a unique array of plants and animals, and the trails will take you from desert to forest, challenging your perception of “the great outdoors”. And hey, who needs skyscrapers when you’ve got monoliths like the Court of the Patriarchs?

Where to Stay

Springdale is the closest town to Zion and offers a wide array of accommodations, from boutique hotels to quaint bed and breakfasts. Plus, the town’s free shuttle service will drop you right at the park’s entrance. It’s so convenient, you might even forgive them for not serving your favorite brand of coffee.

Check out my post all about how to spend one day in Zion for more details about the area, including where to stay and another trail to explore!

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: West Rim Trail โ€“ I did this trail a few years ago with my friend Jillian and honestly it was the best damn thing of my life. It was so impactful that it inspired my entire RAV4 conversion. Youโ€™ll start at the top of the canyon and work your way down to the valley floor. Itโ€™s an all-day thing and youโ€™ll need to organize an early morning pick up.
  • Day 2: Angel’s Landing โ€“ This trail is not for the faint of heart, but if you can handle steep drop-offs and narrow paths, the view from the top is out of this world. It’s like standing on top of a stone skyscraper, minus the glass windows and elevator music. Youโ€™ll need a permit to do this, so plan ahead. Apply for a permit here.
  • Day 3: Emerald Pools โ€“ For your last day, take it a bit easier with a hike to the Emerald Pools. A lot of it is shaded and itโ€™s not too steep, so it could be a fun trail to recover from the previous days. It can get crowded since itโ€™s in the valley, but thatโ€™s kinda how it is in some national parks.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Zion National Park is during the spring and fall when the weather is mild. Summer can be scorching, and many trails can be icy in winter.

The closest major airport is McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, about 2.5 hours away by car. If you’re driving, Zion is a fairly easy drive from many locations in the Southwest.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite is a paradise for hikers, offering over 750 miles of trails. Here, you can walk amongst ancient sequoias, gaze up at the mighty El Capitan, or watch as the setting sun turns Half Dome into a fiery beacon. And the wildlife? From black bears to mule deer, you’ll find plenty of wild neighbors here.

Where to Stay

The park itself is home to a range of accommodations, including the historic Ahwahnee Hotel. For a more budget-friendly option, consider staying in Mariposa, a charming town just outside the park that offers a range of lodging options.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias โ€“ Start your Yosemite adventure by stepping into a real-life fairy tale amongst the giant sequoias. The Grizzly Giant and California Tunnel Tree are must-sees.
  • Day 2: Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls โ€“ Get ready to feel the mist on your face as you hike past two of Yosemite’s most spectacular waterfalls. The steps are steep, but the views are unbeatable.
  • Day 3: Glacier Point and Sentinel Dome โ€“ For your final day, soak in the panoramic views of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point. Then, take a leisure stroll to Sentinel Dome for a 360-degree view of the park. You’ll feel on top of the world!

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Yosemite is during the spring when the waterfalls are at their peak. However, the park is open year-round, and each season offers its own unique beauty.

The closest airports are Fresno-Yosemite International and Merced Regional, both about 1.5-2 hours away by car. If you’re road-tripping, highways 41, 140, and 120 all lead to the park.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Dominating the landscape, Mount Rainier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range and an iconic symbol of Washington. Around the mountain, wildflower meadows bloom, ancient forests whisper tales of old, and waterfalls cascade into clear rivers. And the wildlife? Keep your eyes peeled for black bears, elk, and marmots.

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Where to Stay

The small town of Ashford is just outside the park’s entrance and offers a variety of accommodations, from cozy cabins to comfortable inns. It’s the perfect base for your Mount Rainier adventure.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Skyline Trail to Panorama Point โ€“ Start your journey with a hike to Panorama Point, where stunning views of Mount Rainier and the surrounding peaks will take your breath away.
  • Day 2Spray Park Trail: This 6.5-mile out-and-back trail offers stunning views of Mount Rainier and wildflower-filled meadows. The trail starts at Mowich Lake and climbs up to Spray Park, which is known for its stunning alpine meadows.
  • Day 3: Burroughs Mountain Trail โ€“ For your final day, challenge yourself with a hike to the Burroughs Mountains. The panoramic views of Mount Rainier and the Emmons glacier are simply unforgettable.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Mount Rainier National Park is from July to September when the weather is mild and most of the park’s facilities are open.

The closest major airport is Seattle-Tacoma International, about a two-hour drive from the park. If you’re driving, you can access the park via State Route 706.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is a hiker’s dream come true, boasting over 700 miles of trails. Here, you can wander through alpine meadows, trek up rugged peaks, or simply sit by a crystal-clear lake and ponder why you didn’t become a full-time adventurer sooner.

Where to Stay

The gateway town of Whitefish offers a variety of accommodations and is only a short drive from the park’s entrance. Plus, its charming downtown is worth exploring, so don’t rush to hit the hay just yet.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Trail of the Cedars and Avalanche Lake โ€“ Kickstart your Glacier adventure with a leisurely stroll on the Trail of the Cedars, followed by a hike to the stunning Avalanche Lake. Don’t forget your camera; you’re gonna want to remember this.
  • Day 2: Highline Trail โ€“ Get ready for an epic hike along the Continental Divide. The Highline Trail offers panoramic views of the park and plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting.
  • Day 3: Iceberg Lake Trail โ€“ Wrap up your trip with a hike to Iceberg Lake. It’s a bit of a trek, but the sight of icebergs floating in the lake, even in the heat of summer, is something you won’t forget.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Glacier National Park is during the summer months when all facilities and roads are open. However, fall offers beautiful colors and fewer crowds.

The closest airports are Glacier Park International Airport in Kalispell and Great Falls International Airport. If you’re driving, U.S. Highway 2 runs along the southern boundary of the park.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Solo Hiking Trips in the South

I’ve been staying with my grandma in Arizona lately and exploring some national parks around me in the desert. I’ve grown to love this rocky and dry landscape and can’t wait to explore it more.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Here, you’ll find everything from arid desert to lush forests, all in the shadow of ancient fossilized reefs. With over 80 miles of trails, this park offers something for every level of hiker. And let’s not forget the wildlife. From mule deer to over 300 species of birds, this park is teeming with life.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Where to Stay

The park itself doesn’t have any lodging, but nearby Carlsbad, New Mexico, offers a variety of options. Plus, after a day of hiking, who wouldn’t want to relax in a comfortable bed?

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Devil’s Hall Trail โ€“ Start your adventure with a hike to Devil’s Hall, a natural rock hallway that’s as intriguing as it sounds.
  • Day 2: Guadalupe Peak Trail โ€“ Lace up for a challenge and hike up to the highest peak in Texas. The view from the top is worth every step.
  • Day 3: McKittrick Canyon โ€“ Spend your last day exploring McKittrick Canyon. In the fall, the changing colors are spectacular.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Guadalupe Mountains National Park is in the fall when the temperatures are cooler and the foliage is at its peak.

The closest major airports are in El Paso, Texas, and Midland-Odessa, Texas. From there, you can rent a car and make the drive to the park.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

In Big Bend, you’ll find a truly unique landscape where desert meets mountains and the Rio Grande flows freely. With over 150 miles of trails, you can hike to your heart’s content, exploring everything from canyons to hot springs. And the wildlife? It’s a haven for bird watchers with over 450 species recorded.

Did you realize Texas had something like this??! I sure didn’t.

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Where to Stay

The nearest town is Terlingua, which offers a range of accommodations and a taste of Texas’ quirky side. Trust me, you haven’t seen Texas until you’ve seen Terlingua.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Lost Mine Trail โ€“ Start your Big Bend adventure with a hike on the Lost Mine Trail. It offers stunning views of the Chisos Mountains and the surrounding desert.
  • Day 2: Santa Elena Canyon Trail โ€“ On your second day, take a trip to the Rio Grande and hike the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. The views of the towering canyon walls will leave you breathless.
  • Day 3: Hot Springs Historic Trail and Boquillas Canyon Trail โ€“ Wrap up your trip with a visit to the hot springs followed by a hike on the Boquillas Canyon Trail. Don’t forget to dip your toes in the Rio Grande!

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Big Bend National Park is during the spring and fall when the temperatures are milder.

The closest airport is in Midland-Odessa, Texas, and it’s about a four-hour drive to the park. If you’re driving, the park can be accessed via US Highway 385.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona

This park is like a John Wayne movie set, but instead of stagehands and camera crews, you’ll find real-life roadrunners, coyotes, and, of course, the park’s namesake, the giant saguaro cactus.

Split into two districts on either side of Tucson, the park offers a stunning desert landscape that’s bursting with life. Hiking trails range from easy strolls to challenging treks up desert peaks, and the sunsets? Let’s just say they’re worth the trip alone.

Where to Stay

Tucson is right in the middle of the two park districts and offers a variety of accommodations. Plus, it’s a city with its own desert charm, so don’t miss the chance to explore.

3-Day Itinerary

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Saguaro National Park is during the winter and spring when temperatures are more comfortable for hiking.

Tucson International Airport is the closest major airport. If you’re driving, access to the park is via Speedway Blvd for the East and Kinney Rd for the West.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

If you go, then check out my guide to one day in Tucson, Arizona for 30 fun things to do in and around Tucson.

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Nestled in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, Bandelier protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country.

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

The main attraction? The remarkably preserved dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Here, you’ll walk in the footsteps of ancient inhabitants, exploring petroglyphs, dwellings carved into soft cliff rock, and standing masonry walls of a bygone civilization.

Where to Stay

The nearby city of Los Alamos offers a range of accommodations and is only a short drive from the monument. And hey, if you’re a science geek, don’t miss the Bradbury Science Museum in town!

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Main Loop Trail and Alcove House โ€“ Start your journey back in time on the Main Loop Trail. Don’t miss climbing the ladders to the Alcove House, a ceremonial cave located 140 feet above the canyon floor.
  • Day 2: Falls Trail โ€“ Spend your second day hiking the Falls Trail. It’s a bit of a trek, but the sight of the Upper Falls is worth every step.
  • Day 3: Tsankawi Prehistoric Sites โ€“ Wrap up your trip with a visit to the Tsankawi section of the park. Be sure to walk the 1.5-mile Tsankawi Village Trail, and let the history soak in.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit Bandelier National Monument is from May to September when the weather is warm and all facilities are open.

The closest major airport is Albuquerque International Sunport. If you’re driving, you can reach the monument via New Mexico State Highway 4.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Solo Hiking Trips in the Midwest

Everyone loves the Midwest and the Midwest loves everyone. With beautiful nature trails that lead you to refreshing bodies of water, you can’t help but fall in love with this solo hiking destination.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan

Affectionately known as the “Porkies,” this park is a hidden gem that’s bursting with unspoiled beauty.

Here, you’ll find Michigan’s largest old-growth hardwood-hemlock forest, rugged hills, roaring waterfalls, and sweeping views of Lake Superior. With over 90 miles of hiking trails, you can explore to your heart’s content. And let’s not forget the wildlife โ€“ from black bears to bald eagles, the Porkies are teeming with life.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan

Where to Stay

The nearby town of Ontonagon offers accommodations and is a gateway to the “Porkies.” Plus, it’s a charming town that’s worth exploring.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Escarpment Trail โ€“ Start your adventure with a hike on the Escarpment Trail, where you’ll have panoramic views of Lake Superior and the park’s interior.
  • Day 2: Lake of the Clouds to Big Carp River Trail โ€“ Spend your second day hiking from the stunning Lake of the Clouds down to the Big Carp River Trail. Be prepared for some rugged terrain and amazing waterfalls.
  • Day 3: Presque Isle River Scenic Area โ€“ Wrap up your trip with a visit to the Presque Isle River Scenic Area. The river’s three main waterfalls are a sight to behold.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit the Porcupine Mountains is during the summer and fall. The fall colors are spectacular, and the summer weather is ideal for hiking.

The closest major airport is Duluth International Airport in Minnesota. If you’re driving, the park is accessible via Michigan State Highway 107.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Spanning 1.2 million acres, the Ozarks offer an incredibly diverse landscape โ€“ from hardwood forests and rolling hills to babbling brooks and towering bluffs.

Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

You’ll find over 500 miles of hiking trails here, each one offering its own unique view of the forest’s beauty. And the wildlife? Let’s just say, keep an eye out for white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and if you’re lucky, you might spot a black bear!

Where to Stay

The nearby town of Jasper offers accommodations and is known as the “Jewel of the Ozarks.” It’s also your gateway to the breathtaking Buffalo National River.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Pedestal Rocks Scenic Area โ€“ Start your adventure with a hike around Pedestal Rocks. The unique rock formations and scenic views are a fantastic introduction to the Ozarks.
  • Day 2: Whitaker Point Trail โ€“ Spend your second day hiking to Whitaker Point, also known as Hawksbill Crag. It’s one of the most photographed places in Arkansas for a reason!
  • Day 3: Glory Hole Falls Trail โ€“ Wrap up your trip with a relatively short hike to Glory Hole Falls. It’s not every day you see water pouring through a hole in an overhang!

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit the Ozark National Forest is during the spring when the wildflowers bloom, and in the fall when the leaves change color.

The closest major airport is in Little Rock, Arkansas. From there, you can rent a car and drive to the forest.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Solo Hiking Trips in the East 

The East Coast is filled with all kinds of long, meandering hikes and views that would make you want to settle. Here are a few 3-day itineraries to explore some of the best solo hikes on the East Coast.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park is a gem of the East Coast, with over 47,000 acres of postcard-perfect landscapes, including rugged cliffs, serene ponds, and forests that feel like they’ve sprung right out of a fairy tale. You’ll find yourself surrounded by the intoxicating scent of pine and the sound of waves crashing against the rocks. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some adorable critters like deer, foxes, and more than 330 bird species that call this park home.

Where to Stay

Bar Harbor is your go-to place for a stay. Think charming bed and breakfasts, cozy inns, and lobsterโ€”lots of it. Bar Harbor is conveniently located near the park entrance, making it an ideal base for all your hiking adventures.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Cadillac Mountain โ€“ Start your solo hiking journey with a bang by conquering the park’s tallest peak. It’s the first place in the U.S. to see the sunrise, but no judgment if you opt for a sunset hike instead. The view will knock your socks off regardless.
  • Day 2: Jordan Pond Path โ€“ This flat 3.3-mile loop trail offers a relaxing hike with mesmerizing views of the pond and the surrounding mountains. Don’t forget to stop at the Jordan Pond House for some popovers โ€“ a delicious Acadia tradition!
  • Day 3: Precipice Trail โ€“ Not for the faint of heart, this steep and thrilling trail will have you clambering up iron rungs and along narrow ledges. But the sweeping views of the Atlantic at the top? Totally worth the adrenaline rush.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

Fall is arguably the best time to visit Acadia National Park, when the forest bursts into brilliant hues of red, orange, and yellow. But really, there’s no bad time to visit (unless you’re not a fan of Maine’s snowy winters).

To get there, catch a flight to Bangor International Airport, about an hour’s drive from the park. If you’re more of a road tripper, take the scenic route along U.S. Route 1 โ€“ just prepare for the jaw-dropping coastal views and cute little towns along the way.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah is a haven for hikers, boasting more than 500 miles of trails. The park is home to cascading waterfalls, awe-inspiring lookouts, and a forest that whispers tales of the olden days. With its diverse wildlife, you might spot white-tailed deer, black bears, and countless bird species. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for the elusive Bigfoot… okay, just kidding about that last one!

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Where to Stay

When it comes to lodging, the town of Luray, VA is your best bet. Nestled in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, it offers a range of accommodations from quaint B&Bs to rustic cabins. Plus, it’s close to the famous Luray Caverns, which is worth a visit if you have some extra time.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Old Rag Mountain โ€“ This is one of the park’s most popular hikes, and for a good reason. It’s a challenging trek with rock scrambles galore, but once you reach the summit, you’ll understand why it’s a favorite. You might even start humming “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
  • Day 2: Whiteoak Canyon/Cedar Run Circuit โ€“ Ready for some waterfall action? This trail offers six waterfalls, with plenty of spots to take a refreshing dip. Just remember: what goes down, must come up. This hike is a bit of a workout, but hey, who needs a StairMaster when you’ve got nature?
  • Day 3: Hawksbill Mountain โ€“ No visit to Shenandoah would be complete without ascending its highest peak. The panoramic views from the summit will leave you breathless โ€“ and not just because of the hike up!

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

Shenandoah shines in the fall when the leaves turn the park into a masterpiece of autumnal colors. However, spring is equally enchanting with blooming wildflowers adorning the trails.

Washington Dulles International Airport is the nearest major airport, about 1.5 hours away by car. Alternatively, if you’re up for a road trip, Shenandoah is an easy drive from many East Coast cities.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee

Straddling the border between North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a world of unspoiled forests, mesmerizing waterfalls, and, if you’re lucky, synchronized fireflies. Yep, you read that right.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina/Tennessee

With over 800 miles of trails, the Smokies offer a bit of everything for everyone, from challenging mountain treks to peaceful waterfall walks. This park is also a wildlife paradise. You may see black bears, elk, and if you’re really quiet, maybe even a salamander or two. They don’t call it the “Salamander Capital of the World” for nothing!

Where to Stay

Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is your go-to base for exploring the Smokies. With its mountain charm, a plethora of restaurants, and even a ski resort, it’s a hiker’s paradise. For a quieter vibe, check out Townsend on the “peaceful side of the Smokies.”

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

3-Day Itinerary

  • Day 1: Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte โ€“ Start your Smokies adventure with a bang! This trail is steep but offers everything from a natural cave to awe-inspiring mountain vistas. Make sure to high-five the llamas at the summit. They help carry supplies up to the lodge!
  • Day 2: Ramsey Cascades โ€“ Time for some waterfall magic. This trail will lead you to the park’s tallest waterfall, and the old-growth forest along the way is equally enchanting. Just watch your step; the trail can get a bit rocky.
  • Day 3: Cades Cove Loop โ€“ For your final day, take it easy with a scenic drive or bike ride around Cades Cove. This valley offers stunning landscapes, historical buildings, and excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. It’s like stepping back in time.

Best Time to Visit & How to Get There

The best time to visit is during the fall when the Smokies live up to their name with a stunning display of fall colors. However, the park is open year-round, and each season brings its own charm.

The closest airport is McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, Tennessee, about an hour away from the park. If you’re road-tripping, the park is within a day’s drive of roughly two-thirds of the population of the U.S.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

Planning Your Solo Hiking Trip

As for planning your little solo trips, you’ll need a few things to get started. If you’re far away from your chosen hiking trip, then a quick flight plus a car rental would be the best option.

If you are close enough to drive, then renting a car will help get you there without the wear and tear on your own car.

PRO TIP: Get around and see things off the beaten path on your trip. Book your affordable car rental here.

I always recommend getting a Chase Sapphire card so that you can rack up points and have certain protections while traveling (like car rental insurance).

For accommodations, I like renting homes or apartments via VRBO. It’s always the most comfortable for me and you’ll get great local recommendations wherever you go.

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

Safety Considerations for Solo Travelers

Solo travelers have the freedom to go where they please (and take a solo hike anywhere in the world!), but this lifestyle does come with a few risks. While I’ve never run into any issues myself, there is a lot that can happen unexpectedly safety-wise.

I like to be super cautious and take every step to protect myself and also keep myself out of harm’s way. Here are the ways I do that:

  • Research the Area: Understand the specific challenges and conditions of the region you’ll be hiking in. This includes local wildlife, trail difficulty, altitude, and weather conditions.
  • Check the Weather: Always check the forecast before you set off. Weather can change rapidly, especially in mountainous areas, and can impact trail conditions significantly.
  • Plan Your Route: Know your trail before you start. Familiarize yourself with the route, significant landmarks, and where you can access help if needed.
  • Pack Wisely: Pack light but ensure you have all essentials like food, water, first aid, map, compass, and appropriate clothing.
  • Inform Someone: Always let someone know your plans โ€“ where you’re going, the route you’re taking, and when you expect to be back.
  • Know Your Limits: Don’t overestimate your hiking ability. Start with shorter, less challenging trails and work your way up as you get more comfortable.
  • Take a Communication Device: In case of emergency, have a way to communicate or signal for help. This could be a cell phone, a whistle, or a Personal Locator Beacon. I use the Garmin inReach Mini 2 Satellite Communicator.
  • Respect Nature: Follow the Leave No Trace principles to ensure nature remains untouched for future hikers to enjoy.

Once you sort of keep this mentality in the back of your mind, solo travel becomes an absolutely exhilarating experience. I’m so excited to be a part of your journey!

Find the perfect home rental for your upcoming trip here ๐Ÿ 

Ready for an adventure?

Did you find a hiking trail (or two) that tickles your fancy? Or a few national parks that you didn’t know existed? Same! I’ll be taking off on my solo hiker trip pretty soon and I’ll be writing about it along the way! If you haven’t already, subscribe to my newsletter to get a behind-the-scenes look at my trip.

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