Like many outdoorsy people, I enjoy hiking. Personally, I’m not big on overnight or days-long treks.
However, I love the short and sweet trails that are perfect for filling up a Sunday Funday.
Looking for a short hike in the US to conquer? Check out my list of 10 gorgeous short hikes in the US, all under 5 miles.
Appalachian Trail along the East Coast
The Appalachian Trail is almost 2,200 miles long, stretching through 14 states along the east coast, from Georgia to Maine.
This trail is on the bucket list of many hiking enthusiasts, but you don’t have to hike the entire trail to experience it.
The Appalachian Trail has a nearly 3-mile stretch that runs through Grayson Highlands State Park in the southwestern part of Virginia.
While the entire trail is stunning, this stretch features a small herd of wild ponies.
Yes you read that right – PONIES.
This is definitely one of the most unique short hiking trails in the US!
Carney Springs Trailhead in Arizona
This 3.5-mile round trip hike takes you through Arizona’s desert landscape to a cave shaped like an ocean wave. It makes for great photos and a resting spot before doubling back.
The wave cave portion of the Carney Springs Trailhead starts at Peralta Road in Gold Canyon, AZ.
The trail is exposed with little shade, so be sure to prepare appropriately: sunscreen, wide brim hat, lots of water, etc.
Delicate Arch Trail in Utah
This 3+ mile long trail is one of the most popular day hikes at Arches National Park in Utah.
Views along the trail include pictographs from the Ute Native American tribe, as well as the Delicate Arch.
Gorham Mountain Trail in Maine
Located in Acadia National Park, the Gorham Mountain Trail is a 1.8-mile loop with multiple stops along the way that offer sweeping views over the island and out to the ocean.
The trail starts just past Monument Cove, off of Park Loop Road.
Bonus: Wonderland Trail on the Southwest side of the island is another favorite short hike in Maine. It’s under 1.5 miles roundtrip and the end point is a quiet, rocky shoreline that makes for a great picnic spot or afternoon of reading by the ocean.
Haiku Stairs in Hawaii
Also known as the Stairway to Heaven, this ~2-mile hike has technically been closed since the 80s. Somehow people still find a way to make it through judging by its dominance on Instagram.
In 2015, a storm severely damaged the Haiku Stairs, which were originally installed in the 1940s. No one knows when or if the stairs will ever be repaired and opened to the public.
Aside from the dangerous conditions of the stairs due to the storm damage, some access points to the Haiku Stairs cross private land.
You can and probably will get arrested for trespassing. Don’t be dumb.
Kīlauea Iki Trail in Hawaii
The Kīlauea Iki Trail at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is a 4-mile loop that takes you through rainforest, a former lava lake, more rainforest, and a lava tube (sort of like a cave). The varying landscape is what makes this short hike worth the time.
The Mist Trail in California
Don’t worry – there’s no Stephen King kind of mist here. This 3-mile trail in California’s Yosemite National Park features 2 stunning waterfalls: Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls.
Shorter trails are also available if you wish to only see 1 of the waterfalls.
Rim Trail in Arizona
Along the South rim of Grand Canyon National Park, is the 2.8-mile end-to-end Rim Trail.
Given that the trail is paved, it’s surely seen as more of a walkway to experienced hikers.
However, this means much of the Rim Trail is accessible to those with disabilities or difficulty walking.
Further, if you underestimate your ability to trek down and back, there’s a shuttle bus at select points.
Runyon Canyon Trail in California
Situated right in Los Angeles, CA, Runyon Canyon Trail is about 2.5 miles and offers stunning views of the LA cityscape.
While the hike offers a challenging route, its city location means the vibe is often not what you’d find in a more secluded hiking trail. Think lots of cell phones, selfies, and half-naked people.
Tamolitch Blue Pool in Oregon
To reach this unbelievably bright blue natural pool, access the 3.9-mile round trip stretch of the McKenzie River Trail in Oregon. Stunning!