From where we're sitting in NYC, it's easy to feel like nature is just a figment of the imagination. But just beyond the concrete skyline and streetside hot-dog stands, there's a vast landscape out there to explore this spring. After conducting a not-at-all-scientific survey of our Instagram feeds, we've decided that these are the hikes to start with—some here (as in East Coast), some there (West Coast), and others everywhere else—but each one more jaw-droppingly gorgeous than the last. Time to swap those flats for sneakers and get out there.
Here are our top picks for East Coast hikes this year.
Cornish Estate Trail Loop
This 5-mile loop is just a train ride from Manhattan, but it feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle. With lush greenery and uninterrupted views of the Hudson, it's no wonder that it's a favorite of East Coasters in the mbg community.
Gulf Hagas Trail
Dubbed the "Grand Canyon of the East," Gulf Hagas in Maine is a scenic gorge that drops 400 feet into the aptly named Pleasant River below. Its various trails vary in difficulty, making it a must-see for experienced hikers and newbies alike.
Mount Mitchell State Park boasts a summit that sits at the highest point east of the Mississippi at 6,684 feet. The getaway in western North Carolina also has multiple tent campgrounds open in warm-weather months if you're looking to make a weekend out of it.
With sweeping views of tree-topped peaks and ridges, Summit Mount Cammerer looks like it could be in the European countryside. Almost. Check it out next time you're in the Great Smoky Mountain region and get your selfie on in front of some of the most picturesque views the East has to offer.
West Coast, best coast? If these hikes are an indication, the West sure does have a lot to offer in terms of natural splendor.
Weavers Needle is a 4,553-foot volcanic neck, a jagged crest that formed when magma hardened within a vent on an active volcano. Surrounded by the dry, hot terrain of the Superstitions Mountains, it's the ultimate desert getaway.
Zion National Park
If Zion isn't on your bucket list already, it's time to add it right now. Utah's first national park boasts some of the most breathtaking scenery in the states, with rich terra-cotta reds and deep-blue hues at each turn.
Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Forty miles south of Santa Fe, the dramatic Katuwe landscape looks almost otherworldly. Cone-shaped rock crests peek out from the barren desert in a way that feels moody, mysterious, and downright mesmerizing.
Next time you're in Cali, make a point to visit the Fern Canyon in the Redwoods. The lush ferns and greenery framing the creek are straight out of a dream.
These hikes may be a plane trip (or two) away, but they're so worth it.
Fish River Canyon
Nestled in African wilderness, Fish River Canyon has something for everyone: scenic hikes, sulfur springs, exotic wildlife—and views, to boot.
Iceland is one of those places that everyone seems to be gravitating toward these days, and for good reason. I mean, this massive waterfall alone is enough to justify a trip.
Patagonia is a popular destination for hard-core hikers, but the less experienced among us can also enjoy this one.
Is one peek at Emerald Lake's turquoise water enough to get you looking into flights to Canada? Us too.