Hikes to beat the Western heat

Find a shady jaunt or a stream to swim in in your state.

 

On the Fourth of July, thousands of Westerners streamed out of their homes, heading for the region’s public lands. Natural attractions are more popular than ever, with 290 million visitors to federal public lands in the West each year. But while a day off may be drawing them out the door, the weekly forecast bears the traces of heatwave far into the 10-day forecast. So we pulled together a list of day hikes on state and federal lands from Arizona to Alaska that won’t leave you melted in a puddle. Explore waterfalls, shady streams and even a persistent snowfield.

COLORADO – , 7 miles

Luna Anna Archey

Soak up the sun, drink up the streams and admire all the wildflowers in Rustler’s Gulch. The slight elevation gain and plentiful creeks to cross along the way to a waterfall turnaround point make this jaunt near Crested Butte perfect for a hot day.

IDAHO – , 15 miles

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Too toasty to trek on foot? What could be better than an all-downhill bike trail with the wind whipping through your helmet? There’s even a shuttle at the bottom to bring you back to the top, and we’re betting the line is shorter than a theme park rollercoaster.

NEVADA – , 2.5 miles

Evan Rey Iwai

You’ll be surrounded by water as you get beautiful views of Lake Tahoe’s southern rim on the way to a waterfall. Visiting the largest alpine lake in North America makes for a cool Fourth of July.

NEW MEXICO – , 12 miles

Live New Mexcio

Although it's one of the longer hikes on our list, the refreshing Rio de las Trampas follows the trail through densely shaded woods the whole way. The end offers a break on the banks of the Trampas Lakes, in full view of the Truchas Peaks.

UTAH – , 6.2 miles

Kesler Ottley

Even this far into summer you might still be able to celebrate the halfway point of this out-and-back trail with a snowball fight! There’s still a sizeable snowfield to traverse as you near the peak.

OREGON – Cape Cove Trail, 0.3 miles; Captain Cook Trail, 0.8 miles; Trail of the Restless Waters, 0.4 miles (paved)

Jorge Martinez

In Oregon, when the going gets hot, get going to the coast. This trailhead offers access to a variety of short hikes to explore Cape Perpetua tide pools. If you’re lucky, you might even see some whales and the endangered marbled murrelet, a seabird that prefers to explore the coast in pairs.

WASHINGTON – , 2.5 miles

Sheila Sund

Frigid glacial melt straight from Mount Adams streaming down three levels of falls can’t be beat. This short hike starts with a view of the falls, and a quick detour from the trail up Lewis River leads under the waters of Copper Creek Falls.

CALIFORNIA – , 3.2 miles

Lily Abagyan

You might feel you’re being transported back to a cooler time as you make your way through dense woods and see dozens of early 1900s cabins on the way to this peaceful 50-foot waterfall.

WYOMING – , 10.6 miles

Bryant Olsen

To get to the plungeworthy Green River Lakes, you only gain 90 feet of elevation and pass by countless scenic spots. At the end, swim with Squaretop Mountain in the background.

MONTANA – , 5.5 miles

Wikipedia Commons

The name might be deceiving, but this excursion leads up to chilly Lava Lake along Cascade Creek, providing plenty of opportunities to cool off when the heat makes you feel as if you’re about to explode.

ALASKA – , 2.5 miles

Alexandra MacKenzie

Skagway is a coastal city with wide shoulders, bike-friendly trails, and an ocean breeze to top it all off. This trail is welcoming for hikers and bikers alike.

ARIZONA – , 3 miles

Justin Mier

In Arizona, beating the heat means missing the sun with a night hike near Phoenix. Stand with the saguaros under the stars but still make sure to hydrate. The nighttime temps only dip to the 80s.

Luna Anna Archey is HCN’s associate photo editor. 

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • The National Parks Conservation Association, the nations leading national park advocacy organization, seeks a Regional Director to lead and manage staff for the Southwest Regional...
  • available in Gothic, CO for 2019 summer season - Manager, Lead Cooks, Prep-Cooks, Dishwasher - at the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory (RMBL). The Dining Hall...
  • Suitable for planting hay, hemp, fruit. Excellent water rights. 1800 square foot farmhouse, outbuildings, worker housing.
  • More information: jobs.wisc.edu. Search 96076
  • Friends of the Verde River is looking for someone to join our team who has a keen investigative mind and is an excellent communicator and...
  • - Thriving Indie bookstore in Durango, CO. 1800 sf of busy retail space in a 3100 sf historic building. Long term lease or option to...
  • with home on one acre in Pocatello, ID. For information and photos visit www.blackrockforgeproperty.com.
  • The Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition is seeking a technical partner to develop a land management plan for the 1.9 million-acre Bears Ears Landscape in southeastern...
  • Specializing in native seeds and seed mixes for western states.
  • on 3 acres near Moxon. 3 bd/1.5 bath, apt. Views/access to hiking, fishing, wildlife.1-207-593-6312. $165,900.
  • Senior position responsible for the development of all marketing and fundraising strategies to grow the base of philanthropic support and awareness of GSEP.
  • This newly created position with The Nature Conservancy's Colorado River Program will play a key role in the development and implementation of strategies to achieve...
  • The Wilderness Society works to protect Wildlands and inspire Americans to care for our public lands. We seek to hire a strategic, experienced leader who...
  • Organic grocery/cafe at Glacier Bay needs a vibrant leader. Love good food, community, and Alaska? Join us!
  • Collector's Item! The story of barley, the field crop. 50 years of non-fiction research. www.barleybook.com
  • near Ennis, MT. Artist designed, 1900 SF, 2BR/2BA home on 11.6 acres with creek, tree, views, privacy. 406-570-9233 or [email protected] www.arrowreal.com (Country Homes).
  • Colorado Farm to Table is looking for a full-time energetic, creative Executive Director to lead our team in Salida.
  • Join HCN and Black Sheep Adventures on an expedition through the national parks and monuments of Utah and Southwest Colorado, September 7 - 15, 2019....
  • 25 acre in native grasses. Cedar draw. Year-round spring. At foot of Moscow Mnt, ID, 7 miles from town.