From Coast to Coast: 50 Family-Friendly Hikes Across 50 States

Lace on those hiking boots! We've got 50 picks for fall family hikes

By Macaroni KID September 12, 2023

Fall is our favorite time to explore the great outdoors with our families. The stifling summer heat is gone, making way for crisp, refreshing air. The trees are decked out in vivid reds, yellows, and oranges. 

But where exactly to go explore? We wanted to visit some new spots this year, so set out on an expedition of sorts — a quest to compile a list of 50 beautiful spots in the U.S. to go hiking this fall with family — one location in each state. 

We asked our Macaroni KID publishers for recommendations, and we're eager to hear your thoughts, too! Is your state's recommendation on point, or do you have another spot in mind? Join the conversation on Facebook and share your favorite fall family hiking spots!

Please note: Difficulty levels of these trails vary and are not appropriate for all families. Trails can also close for weather or other reasons. We urge you to further research these trails before heading out with your family.

Ready to join us on our hiking adventures? Here is our list of 50 spots in 50 states to go for a fall hike with your family. States are listed alphabetically:

  • Alabama: Oak Mountain State Park in Pelham — Explore the Treetop Nature Trail for an easy, family-friendly hike with scenic views. Along the way, you can see non-releasable birds of prey cared for by the Alabama Wildlife Center, including owls, hawks, and vultures.
  • Alaska: Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge in Anchorage — Try the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which gently winds along the coast offering beautiful vistas and wildlife sightings. 
  • Arizona: Sedona — Hike Devil's Bridge to see the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area. 

Photo courtesy of Veronica Leon

Devil's Bridge in Sedona: Recommended by Veronica Leon, publisher of Macaroni KID North Scottsdale - PV, Az.

Veronica says: It's one of the most heavenly sights in an area famous for them. From a trailhead elevation of 4,600 feet, there's a mere 400-foot climb in altitude during this moderately difficult, 1.8-mile roundtrip trek.

  • Arkansas: Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton — Enjoy the Cedar Falls Trail, which leads to 95-foot Cedar Falls, one of the tallest in the state.
  • California: Fremont — Challenge your family to Mission Peak, a strenuous 6-mile hike with a 2,000-foot climb that rewards hikers with an incredible view at its peak.

Photo courtesy of Jen Hill

Mission Peak in California, recommended by Jen Hill, publisher of Macaroni KID Fremont, Calif.

Jen says: Mission Peak is really popular among hikers who come from around the Bay Area to conquer. From the top you can see out over the Bay. While this is a challenging hike, especially for beginners, my husband used to hike here with our kids when they were little. My younger daughter actually made it to the peak when she was 3 — entirely on her own feet and was so proud. See Jen's other hiking recommendations in the Fremont area.

  • Colorado: Roxborough State Park in Littleton — You'll be awed by the spectacular red-rock formations on Willow Creek Loop.

Courtesy of Kyrie Collins

Roxborough State Park in Colorado, recommended by Kyrie Collins, publisher of Macaroni KID Highlands Ranch-Parker-Castle Rock-Lone Tree, Colo. 

Kyrie says: Like Red Rocks and Garden of the Gods, Roxborough State Park is filled with spectacular red-rock formations. ... The park is also home to an abundance of birds, foxes, and mule deer. See more Colorado hiking recommendations from Macaroni KID Colorado publishers.

  • Connecticut: Sleeping Giant State Park in Hamden — Two miles of mountaintop resembling a sleeping person give this park its name. Hike to the summit for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes — Rich in history, you can walk the Seaside Nature Trail and enjoy coastal scenery. There are six miles of coastline.
  • Florida: Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka — Just minutes from Orlando, this park with its clear springs and lush vegetation is a perfect spot for hiking and observing abundant wildlife.
  • Georgia: Cloudland Canyon State Park in Rising Fawn — Discover the Waterfalls Trail and the incredible views from the rim.
  • Hawaii: Diamond Head State Monument in Oahu — Hike to the summit of Diamond Head for its famous hiking trail, stunning views, and military history. 
  • Idaho: City of Rocks National Reserve in Almo — Explore the Window Arch Trail for unique rock formations that look like windows, bathtubs, and caves.
  • Illinois: Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby — Choose from various trails leading to waterfalls and canyons. Guided hikes available.
  • Indiana: Turkey Run State Park in Marshall — There are several trails in this park to choose from ranging from easy to moderate, most of which explore scenic canyons and unique rock formations. You'll need to cross a suspension bridge to get to most of them!
  • Iowa: Ledges State Park in Madrid — Enjoy the Canyon Road Trail with sandstone ledges and spectacular views of Pea’s Creek “canyon.” 
  • Kansas: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City — Walk the Prairie Fire and Scenic Overlook Trails to experience the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. You are likely to see a bison herd on the hike.

CarbonBrain | Canva

Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas.

  • Kentucky: Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade — Hike to the Natural Bridge on a family-friendly trail. The natural sandstone arch spans an impressive 78 feet and is over 65 feet high. 
  • Louisiana: Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve in Marrero — Explore the accessible boardwalk and gravel Barataria Preserve walking trails. Look for 600-year-old bald cypress trees and maybe an alligator or two.
  • Maine: Camden Hills State Park in Camden — The 0.5-mile trail to the Mount Battie summit is a favorite with families, especially because of the castle-like stone tower at the top and the views along the way.
  • Maryland: Catoctin Mountain Park in Thurmont — Hike the Blue Blazes Whiskey Still Trail for historical insights and scenic beauty at this park, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The trail concludes at an actual whiskey still.
  • Massachusetts: Purgatory Chasm State Reservation in Sutton — Try Chasm Loop Trail for a moderate hike where you will encounter natural rock formations like the Devil’s Pulpit and Lover's Leap.

Dan Logan | Canva

Purgatory Chasm State Reservation in Massachusetts, recommended by Ashley Clifford, publisher of Macaroni KID Auburn, Mass.

Ashley says: We love Purgatory Chasm State Reservation. Very cool spot and they have a pretty great playground... plus it's literally right next to our favorite ice cream creamery. 

  • Michigan: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Alger County — Explore the Lakeshore Trail for breathtaking views of Lake Superior and colorful cliffs. This trail is 42 miles long, so choose a section at a length and difficulty appropriate for your family's level of hiking.
  • Minnesota: Gooseberry Falls State Park in Two Harbors — Take the Waterfalls Walk for an easier trail or the Waterfalls Loop for a more difficult hike. You'll see waterfalls, and walk across a suspended walkway. 
  • Mississippi: Tishomingo State Park in Tishomingo — Enjoy the Bear Creek Outcropping Trail with unique rock formations and scenic views of the Appalachian foothills.
  • Missouri: Roaring River State Park in Cassville — Enjoy relatively easy hiking trails and amazing rock formations.

Janel Plunkard

Roaring River State Park in Missouri, recommended by Janel Plunkard, publisher of Macaroni KID Springfield, Mo.

Janel says: We love the relatively easy hiking trails and large rock formations, and the kids enjoy seeing the fish hatchery and the pale blue spring water. There’s also plenty of fishing areas and a quaint camping area. See Macaroni KID hiking trail recommendations in the Columbia, Mo., area.

  • Montana: Glacier National Park — Choose the Trail of the Cedars in this 1,583 square mile park for a family-friendly nature walk on an accessible trail. Highlights include red cedars that grow as high as 100 feet and are estimated to be over 500 years old. 
  • Nebraska: Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Ellsworth — The 2.2-mile-long nature trail at Crescent Lake National Wildlife Refuge is an easy hike offering an overlook viewing area with a spotting scope. This refuge is located at the southwestern end of the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills.
  • Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park in Moapa Valley — Hike the Mouse's Tank Trail to see petroglyphs, petrified trees and colorful sandstone formations. "Mouse" references an outlaw who used this area as a hiding spot.
  • New Hampshire: Georgiana Falls in Lincoln — An easy but relatively obscure hiking destination. The many cascades along the way lead to a 30-foot waterfall, making it a very rewarding hike. 

Sarah Cates

Georgiana Falls in New Hampshire, recommended by Sarah Cates, publisher of Macaroni KID Concord, N.H.

Sarah says: My husband and I found Georgiana Falls on our honeymoon thanks to geocaching. It’s a mile to the spot pictured and the waterfall just gets more and more beautiful as you hike up it! See more of Sarah's hiking recommendations in New Hampshire.

  • New Jersey: Wawayanda State Park in Vernon Township — The moderately difficult Stairway to Heaven Trail includes lots of rocks, and scrambling is required. The beautiful pay-off view at the top includes stunning views of the Vernon Valley, Pochuck Mountain, and the Catskills. 
  • New Mexico: Bandelier National Monument in Los Alamos — Explore the Main Pueblo Loop Trail to see ancient Pueblo cliff dwellings. Kids can climb ladders along the way to explore cavates, small human-carved alcoves.
  • New York: Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen — Walk the Gorge Trail to see waterfalls and unique rock formations at Watkins Glen, located in the Finger Lakes region. An almost two mile hike will take you past 19 waterfalls and up over 800 stone steps.

Paul Massie Photography | Canva

Watkins Glen State Park in New York.

  • North Carolina: Linville Falls, along the Blue Ridge Parkway — You'll pass through a forest of old-growth trees along Erwin's View Trail along the way to clifftop views of waterfalls, one of the most scenic and photographed waterfalls in the East. 
  • North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park — Choose the Caprock Coulee Trail, which showcases both the natural and geologic variety of the Badlands. 
  • Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park in Logan — You'll see several waterfalls along the Old Man's Cave Trail, which travels along the gorge cut through the entire 150-foot thickness of the Blackhand sandstone. The popular trail is named for a hermit that once lived here.
  • Oklahoma: Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur — Enjoy the Bison Pasture Trail loop for lovely views and possible bison sightings.
  • Oregon: Crater Lake National Park  — Walk the Sun Notch Trail for stunning views of Crater Lake and Phantom Ship Island. You'll start in a lush green meadow and hike to the overlook.

Susannah Ferguson | Macaroni KID Columbia, Mo.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

  • Pennsylvania: Ricketts Glen State Park in Benton — Hike the Ricketts Glen Falls Trail Loop. This moderately difficult and scenic hike includes views of multiple waterfalls along the way.
  • Rhode Island: Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown — Walk the easy Sachuest Point Trail for coastal views and birdwatching. Keep an eye out for deer and coyote as well.
  • South Carolina: Congaree National Park in Hopkins — Explore the accessible Boardwalk Loop Trail through the largest intact old-growth bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern United States.
  • South Dakota: Badlands National Park in Interior — Walk the Door Trail for views of unique rock formations. Part of this hike is on an accessible boardwalk, which leads to a break in the Badlands Wall known as “the Door” and offers up a panoramic view of the Badlands. 
  • Tennessee: Fall Creek Falls State Park — Hike to Fall Creek Falls, which, at 256 feet high, is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Visitors like to swim at the base of the waterfall.
  • Texas: Chalk Ridge Falls in Belton — Featuring beautiful, cool water, an idyllic waterfall, and even a suspension bridge.

Chalk Ridge Falls in Texas, recommended by Brittany Joyner, publisher of Macaroni KID Killeen, Texas.

Brittany says: The trails are easy enough for littles to hike, with options for the older/more adventurous. The waterfall and river are a necessity to cool off in the summer/early fall. There’s also a suspension bridge that the kids think is the coolest.

  • Utah: Bryce Canyon National Park in Bryce — Choose the Mossy Cave Trail for family-friendly exploration past hoodoos, a waterfall, and a mossy cave where icicles hang in the shady places.
  • Vermont: Quechee Gorge State Park — Walk along the flat and scenic Quechee Gorge Trail for views of Vermont's "Little Grand Canyon."

Photo by Susannah Ferguson | Macaroni KID Columbia Mo.

Quechee Gorge State Park in Vermont.

  • Virginia: Shenandoah National Park — There are a lot of great family hikes here, but one special one is Blackrock Summit, where a short hike to a viewpoint on top of a rocky slope offers incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain.

Chansak Joe | Canva

Blackrock Summit in Virginia, recommended by Sandy Wallace, publisher of Macaroni KID Lynchburg, Va.

Sandy says: It's only about a mile-long trail with minimal elevation change, excellent views at the top, and a mountain of boulders to climb. See more of Sandy's hiking recommendations in the Shenandoah National Park area. 

  • Washington: Olympic National Park in Port Angeles — Explore the Hurricane Ridge Trail for mountain vistas. In clear weather, fantastic views can be enjoyed throughout the year.
  • West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park — There are several family-friendly trails here. Walk to see the canyon and stunning Blackwater Falls, named for the amber waters tinted by the tannic acid of hemlock and red spruce needles. 
  • Wisconsin: Devil's Lake State Park in Baraboo — Hike the East Bluff Trail for views of Devil's Lake. You'll find stone steps periodically along the way, along with Elephant Rock and Elephant "Cave."

Photo by Susannah Ferguson | Macaroni KID Colombia, Mo.

From the peak of East Bluff Trail in Wisconsin.

Wyoming: Grand Teton National Park — Try the String Lake Loop Trail for family-friendly exploration and beautiful views of the Cathedral Group of peaks. Note the snapped trees indicating avalanches.