My Favorite Hikes That Aren’t in National Parks

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I just covered my favorite National Park hikes, so now it’s time to take a look at the rest of them, outside the parks, which is a lot more.  I did quite a bit of hiking towards the beginning of summer, and in the middle, but almost none towards the end, which is a little disappointing, but it happens.  I’ll work on it.  On that note, here are my favorite non-National Park hikes.

Halls Creek Overlook

This has one of the best views of Capitol Reef and Halls Creek, even though it isn’t flowing.  The hike is relatively flat, or at least not steep.  It’s more of a gradual incline.  The walk back is much easier.  One spot along the way has really cool clear stones that look like glass.

Helpful things:

  • The hike is less than 3 miles round-trip.
  • You don’t have to be in stellar shape for this.
  • To get here from Bullfrog, go down Burr Trail, past the Halls Creek Overlook sign, to the dirt road.  Turn left and go down the first road you see on the left.  It’s a little dirt road and there’s a trailer and little pen.  Park there and walk the rest of the way.
  • Bring lots of water, it gets really hot.
  • This is a really great spot to watch the sunset.
  • Watch out for rattlesnakes.

Little Wild Horse Canyon

I’ve mentioned this one before, but I love Little Wild Horse Canyon.  It’s desert hiking in a wash and slot canyons and it’s just cool.  It’s part of the San Rafael Swell, near Goblin Valley.  Unless it looks rainy, then it’s a little scary.  At least I was super nervous in it.  I will be back on a nice day, though.  It’s just too cool not to visit, especially if you’re in the area.

Helpful things:

  • Keep an eye on the weather.  If it looks rainy or is supposed to be, skip it and save it for a nicer day.  Check the weather of the surrounding area, too.  You don’t want to get washed away in a flash flood.
  • Set aside a whole morning or afternoon for this.  The trail is kind of long clocking n at an 8-mile loop.
  • Definitely bring a lot of water for this.  It’ll get hot since it is the desert.  There will be cool spots too though.  This is the kind of place a Hydroflask will be your best friend.
  • Don’t forget your camera!  This is too cool to not take pictures.

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley isn’t so much a trail, but a free for all of climbing and cave hunting.  If you’re into canyoneering (which looks AWESOME and I would love to learn) check out the Goblin’s Lair.  The pictures I’ve seen of it look awesome.  This is an awesome place to spend a few hours climbing everything for views over the valley, and if you’re in the right spot, of the flat desert (which is actually an awesome view) where you drove in from.

Helpful things:

  • If you climb anything, make sure you can get down.  Then, if you go down something, make sure you can get back up.  I’ve almost gotten stuck places too many times because of this.
  • Bring plenty of water in the summer.  It gets HOT.  This is where I recommend the Hydroflask again.  Can you tell I love it?  (I only recommend things I love)
  • This is an even better place for pictures.  I took tons of pictures and had a hard time narrowing them down to share on here, that’s why there’s so many.  Plus a bunch you haven’t even seen.
  • You won’t need bug spray, but definitely sunscreen.  I like Sunbum.

Butler Wash Ruins

These were the first ruins I got to see and it wasn’t even planned.  It was a grocery trip day and they happened to be on the way, so we figured we would stop and see what it was like.  It’s awesome.  The site isn’t huge, but it’s still pretty good sized.  The hike to the viewing area is short, but you can hike down and then over to the ruins themselves.  They’re kind of like a mini Mesa Verde.

Helpful things:

  • There isn’t really a good way to get up to the ruins, but it’s definitely worth it.  At the viewing area, go to the left and find a way down then just back up the other side.
  • The hike is around two miles roundtrip.  It’s a perfect stop for a break on a long drive, which everything is out here.
  • They are on Highway 95, the scenic drive between Moab and Bullfrog.
  • Definitely bring water.  I didn’t and I regretted it.  We didn’t anticipate going over to the ruins though, which added a lot of time.
  • Of course, if you go to the ruins, be super careful, and don’t take anything.

Rattlesnake Canyon

This is where I saw, and was terrified by, my first two rattlesnakes!  I ended up seeing quite a few, but these two were cool.  This was just on the side of Highway 95, a little over an hour from Bullfrog.  It’s not an official trail, just a spot on the side of the road.  I don’t really have advice for this since we just wandered off into the desert and climbed stuff.

Elephant Skin

This was another random side of the road thing.  We went camping along Burr Trail, outside of Capitol Reef.  Along the right, headed towards Capitol Reef, is this grey stuff on the base of the cliffs.  It’s almost soft walking on it.  It must be some kind of dirt, but it’s almost squishy walking on it.  It’s bizarre and fills up your shoes, but the top of this has stellar views.  The actual rock near the top is not the most stable.  We were rewarded with a wonderful sunset, though.  Totally worth it.

Helpful things:

  • Be super careful and test all of the rock towards the top before stepping on it.
  • On the way down, if you’re with somebody, go down next to them instead of behind.  They’re less likely to get hit with any rocks you may dislodge then.
  • As usual, bring water.  It’s not the easiest climb.
  • This is all over the area, not just on Burr.  That’s just where I finally climbed it.

The Trail from Boyd Park to Archery Park

I’m not sure if this trail has a name.  Maybe the river trail?  It’s from home, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and I spent a ton of time on here growing up.  I also did lots of Geocaching on it last summer.  It’s a nice easy walk connecting two parks with a great view of the river.  It’s sort of in the middle of a hill, but you can climb down to the river.

Helpful things:

  • Wear bug spray in the summer.  There are lots of mosquitos here.
  • You can still use it in the winter, just be careful of ice and other slippery areas.
  • Continue onto the bike trail if you end up in Boyd.  If you end in Archery Park, keep going through the park, it continues on a bit on the other side, with more Geocaches.

Paraners Branch Trail

One of our stops in Florida was O’Leno State Park not too far from Gainesville.  I really enjoyed this trail.  The trees and palmy looking bush things.  I even saw an armadillo!  I was so excited about that.  They’re so grossly cute.  The weather was perfect when we went and it’s definitely somewhere I would go again.

Helpful things:

  • The trail is 3.69 miles and is a loop.
  • Bring water and snacks.
  • Use bug spray, especially in the summer.  Bring extra just in case.
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife!
  • Of course, bring water,as it gets hot, especially in summer.  I’d recommend the Hydroflask.  They’re perfect for hot places (and cold) because they keep things ice cold for hours.

La Chua Trail

My first Florida experience and I loved it.  There were SO MANY gators here!  Unfortunately, they were all on the other side of the water, but it was still super cool to see them all.  The trail isn’t very long, it’s a good way to spend a few hours in the afternoon or morning.

Helpful things:

  • La Chua Trail is part of Payne’s Prairie State Park.  It’s great to do in one day with the Sweetwater Wetlands Trail.
  • Park entrance fee is $2 per person
  • The hike is up to three miles roundtrip.
  • There are wild horses, gators, and bison in the park, and of course all kinds of birds and even deer.
  • Bring water and use bug spray, especially in the summer.

Have you done any of these hikes?  Which ones?  What did you think of them?  What are your favorite hikes that aren’t in National Parks?

24 thoughts on “My Favorite Hikes That Aren’t in National Parks

  1. That’s a very good idea for a blog post and all the trails you mention look absolutely beautiful! I also like your tips about helpful things. Makes me want to start hiking immediately, which, unfortunately is not possible as I’m in Germany right now. But I’ll come back to this post before my next visit to the US! Have a nice Sunday

  2. What an awesome list! I’ve been hiking more now that I’ve lived in Atlanta and we’re so close to the Appalachian Trail, but would really like to start hiking in other cities.

  3. What an awesome list, I love hiking! 🙂 Haven’t been on any hikes in the US yet, but I’ll keep your list in mind 🙂

  4. I love hiking but haven’t done any of these. I have pinned this for later so I can check them out. Thanks for the great tips.

  5. These all look so cool! You have such good hiking opportunities in the US… I love hiking and got really into it in Australia but the views in the UK are nowhere near as majestic as in the US or Aus!

    1. Thank you! They are pretty awesome. I’ve gotten to do tons of hiking this last year and there will be plenty more this summer! Jealous of all the hiking in Australia, though!

  6. I think some people tend to overlook hikes outside of national parks so this is a great list. Your pictures are incredible! I love the shots of Goblin Valley, I think that looks like an absolute must do.

  7. Arizona and Utah have some of the best spots! All of these look great, but Goblin Valley especially looks cool to me – adding that to my list!

  8. I’m not gonna lie; I’m lazy AF when it comes to hiking…or trekking…or climbing anything bigger than a speedhump. But if I did ever get off my ass to go for hike, I’d check out these places fo’ sure!

  9. Like your blog, especially that you list a lot of hikes that are scenic without being mobbed with people or terribly strenuous. Planning a trip to North Rim GC/Bryce Cyn/Capitol Reef next year and am bookmarking your blogs in S Utah especially Capitol Reef.

    Sounds like you get to Florida. Let me know if you ever get as far south as the Martin County (south of Vero, north of Jupiter) area. There’s some interesting hiking here including several portions of the Florida trail that aren’t covered in many guides.

    1. Thank you! I like sharing the less strenuous hikes since that’s mostly what I do, but occasionally I’ll do a tougher one haha. That will be an awesome trip! Capitol Reef might be my favorite Utah park. It’s a tough decision though.

      I’ll be in Florida in December again this year. I would love any hike suggestions! Thank you!

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