Activities

Best Morning Hikes

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Rise and shine for these must-take morning hikes.

Sure it’s vacation, but early morning is such a terrific time to take a walk or a longer hike when you’re camping. The sunrise! The shore birds! The wildlife! Another plus: popular hikes won’t be as crowded and it will be cooler.

Pack a picnic breakfast the night before. Brew some coffee or tea (hot chocolate for the kids), pour into thermal containers and head off on an adventure you won’t forget. Here are great morning hike options in five popular vacation states:

COLORADO

You have less chance of getting rained on in the morning! In Rocky Mountain National Park, you can watch for an early morning rainbow as you hike a third of a mile to Adams Falls. Keep your eye out for moose in Coyote Valley as you hike along a gentle trail that follows the bank of the Colorado River. Bring a stroller or wheel chair on this mile-long accessible trail. You’ll find the Estes Park KOA just five miles from Rocky Mountain National Park.

Hiking the Maroon Bells outside of Aspen is considered among Colorado’s most iconic hikes — through fields of wildflowers and around Maroon Lake surrounded by the two giant snow-capped mountains that locals call the Bells. You can hike from Maroon Lake to Crater Lake, 1.8 miles each way. Look for wildflowers along the Snowmass Nature Trail with naturalists from the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.There is no charge for the 10 a.m. guided hike, the one atop Aspen Mountain and others in the Maroon Bells.

MASSACHUSETTS

The Mashpee River Reservation on Cape Cod offers two miles of not particularly demanding trails winding over bridges along the Mashpee River. One minute you’re in forest land, another along the seacoast. If you’re lucky, you’ll see ospreys, eagles and other magnificent birds. Early in the morning, enjoy the soft morning light, birdsongs and morning mist.  It is considerably cooler early in the morning!

MAINE

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park near Bar Harbor is the first place to see the sunrise in the fall through March in the United States and the highest point along the North Atlantic Seaboard. It can be crowded, especially in summer but well worth the bragging rights. The two beaches at Reid State Park in Georgetown — Mile Beach and Half Mile Beach– are resting and feeding areas for many shorebirds which can be easier to see early in the morning. The rocky headlands offer sweeping ocean views that stretch to three lighthouses and two islands. You’ll find several KOAs in Bar Harbor including the  Bar Harbor / Oceanside KOA which boasts the chance to stay in an Airstream and camping at the water’s edge.

NEW MEXICO

You can see volcanoes and ancient petroglyphs at Petroglyph National Monument, which opens at  8 a.m., and if you are lucky, you  might  see the sun come up over the spectacular Sandia Mountains, which form the northeast border of Albuquerque. If it’s summer, just get there a bit early to catch the sunrise. Because the Monument is on the west side of the city and on an elevated mesa, you can see the sun hit the west side of the metro area first and then gradually light up the floor of the rest of the Rio Grande Valley.  Come the first week in October for the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, the world’s largest hot air ballooning event and you’ll see plenty of balloons in the early morning sky.

CALIFORNIA

Stand atop an active volcano when you climb up to Lassen Peak in Lassen Volcanic National Park about four hours northeast of San Francisco. As this trail is almost entirely without shade, it’s wise to start early. Get the best views of the Hollywood sign in Griffith Park in Los Angeles when you do the Hollywood Sign hike. Earlier is not only cooler, but easier to find a parking spot in the Griffith Observatory lot where a three-mile loop hike starts.  Watch the early morning surfers and sea birds in Surf City, USA as you walk for miles on the paved coastal path at Huntington State Beach.

Best Morning Hikes from KOA


Eileen OgintzEileen Ogintz writes the syndicated column and blog Taking the Kids and is the author if The Kid’s Guide series for kids to major cities across the United States.

Looking for more great ideas to get kids excited about travel? Checkout Eileen’s Kid’s City Guides for tons of tips, facts, games and fun from traveling kids in the know.