Where to Hike with your Dad for Father’s Day

Member Exclusive Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great benefits. Backpacking


Member Exclusive

Become a member to unlock this story and receive other great benefits.

Backpacking forms the connections for some of my closest relationships. It binds my family and I together with shared memories, joys and struggles. And the more time you spend outdoors with those you love, the better those relationships become. With Father’s Day upon us, many of us are striving to find ways to create meaningful memories with our Dads this season. The following hikes might give you just the right amount of inspiration. Greenstone Ridge Trail

Isle Royale, Michigan

Photo: “Greenstone Ridge Trail, Isle Royale Nat’l Park” by daveynin is licensed under CC BY 2.0
  • Distance: 39.5 miles
  • Time: 4-6 days
  • Elevation gain: 3,992 feet

Michigan’s Greenstone Ridge Trail is a 39.5-mile point-to-point on Isle Royale. The trail features 5,102 feet of elevation change and is rated as difficult. Hikers can expect to see fern forests, rocky outcrops, and spectacular views out over Lake Superior. It’s possible to see the Northern Lights from this off-the-beaten island, so check the aurora forecast and prepare for stargazing. Father’s Day temperatures may be a little bit chilly on this northern island, so be sure to pack extra layers. 

Kalalau Trail 

Kauai, Hawaii

Photo: Photo by Dave Poore on Unsplash
  • Distance: 22 miles
  • Time: 2 days
  • Elevation gain: 5,000 feet

The Kalalau Trail is a 22-mile out and back hike that stretches along the Nāpali Coast in Kauai. Originally built in the 1800s, it’s one of the oldest trails in the United States. Hikers who intend to travel beyond the first two miles of this hike must obtain an overnight camping permit. Permits can be obtained up to 30 days prior to your hike. Dangerous rip currents along Hanakapiai Beach prevent swimming, but lazing in the sun beneath black volcanic cliffs and lush rainforest is just as nice. 

Old Man’s Cave 

Logan, Ohio

Photo: “Rock house, Hocking Hills, Ohio” by See1,Do1,Teach1 is licensed under CC BY 2.0
  • Distance: 1-6 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Elevation gain: 506 feet

Nestled in the hills of southern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park tucks an unexpected river gorge into a seldom-visited corner of the midwest. The Old Man’s Cave is a destination is easily accessible by foot (and perfect for lots of old man jokes as you head up the trail with your dad). Just 1 mile from the start of the hike, you’ll find yourself at a beautiful rocky cove that was named after a hermit who lived in a large cave in the gorge. Midway through, cross a bridge over a river gushing with early summer meltwater. Hocking Hills State Park was one of the most visited destinations of the Appalachian Trail’s first solo female thru-hiker, Grandma Gatewood. Today, there’s even a trail named after her in the park. 

Indian Staircase

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Photo: Photo by Lizzie Luh on Unsplash
  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Elevation gain: 591 feet

The Red River Gorge is a sport climbing mecca that draws adventurers from every corner of the country, but there’s more to it than that: dozens of miles of trails lead through deep forest to sandstone arches and cliffs the equal of Utah. Indian Staircase heads through one such formation. This 3.1-mile lollipop loop is a moderate trek that takes adventurers up a vertical sandstone cliff. Some scrambling and heart palpitations may be involved for those who are brave enough to attempt it. The trail is accessible year round, but the summer weeks around Father’s Day have the best weather. 

Lower South Fork Skokomish Trail 

Shelton, Washington 

Photo: “South Fork Skokomish River Trail, Olympic National Forest” by Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region is marked with CC PDM 1.0
  • Distance: 8.5 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Elevation gain: 1,440 feet

Washington hiking is best known for the sharp and jagged Cascade mountain range. But the Lower South Fork Skokomish Trail is likely to knock your socks off, too. The trail is 8.5 miles round-trip, with 1,440 feet of elevation gain. The vibrant fir trees coupled with the view of the river make for a peaceful day of family meandering. It isn’t uncommon to see herds of elk in the area. 

Schoodic Head Trail 

Acadia National Park, Maine 

Photo: “Downeast islands” by Unhindered by Talent is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet

Take in the ocean views Acadia is known for with your Dad on the Schoodic Head Trail. The 2.2-mile out and back near Winter Harbor is suitable for every level of family fitness (and it’s dog-friendly, so every family member can come along). A network of trails that connects with the Schoodic Head Trail that can extend your hike by up to an additional 6 miles. 

Snake Bight Trail

Everglades National Park, Florida

Photo: Photo by Morgane Perraud on Unsplash
  • Distance: 3.6 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Elevation gain: 0 feet

If your Dad is a fan of bizarre wildlife, head out to the Everglades National Park’s Snake Bight Trail. This 3.6-mile out and back takes you through meadows and wetlands populated by alligators, shockingly colorful water snakes, and bald-headed wood storks. 

Looking for even more adventure? Consider a slough slog. With the help of a National Park’s ranger, you can arrange a hike through the waters of the park to get close and personal with the critters that live there. 

Cirque of the Towers 

The Wind River Range, Wyoming 

Photo: Photo by Emmy Sobieski on Unsplash
  • Distance: 22.6 miles
  • Time: 2-3 days
  • Elevation gain: 4,246 feet

For a multi-day father-kids backpacking trip, head out to Wyoming’s Cirque of the Towers. This hike loops through a semi-circle of 15 different 12,000-foot peaks. The 22.6-mile hike is difficult, with 4, 246 feet of elevation change, but the sharp granite peaks and trout-filled streams are more than worth it. This hike is best kept for intermediate to advanced backpackers because of the difficult hiking conditions and variable weather patterns. 

Spruce Flats Falls 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

Photo: “Spruce Flat Falls” by Lee Edwin Coursey is licensed under CC BY 2.0
  • Distance: 1.8 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Elevation gain: 459 feet

The Spruce Flats Fall Trail is a 1.8-mile out and back to a 30-foot waterfall in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. The path is rocky, and provides just enough of a challenge to get the heart pumping before spitting hikers out near the waterfall where you can picnic or take in the scenic views for a while. This trail is accessible year round, but summer has the best weather.

Dripping Cave Hollow Oak Trail 

Aliso and Wood Canyons Regional Park, California

Photo: “Hike.jpg” by docoverachiever is licensed under CC BY 2.0
  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Time: 1 day
  • Elevation gain: 434 feet

The Dripping Cave Hollow Oak Trail is a 6-mile lollipop loop situated near Laguna Niguel, California. Along your journey, you may run across rabbits, quail and deer. As a multi-use trail, it isn’t uncommon to see bikers during your journey (or, if Dad is more of a cyclist than a walker, you can bike yourselves). The eponymous cave was inhabited by Juan Flores and his team of outlaws in the 1850s.