Top 5 Hiking Locations

1. Achenback/Buckhorn Trails, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Little has changed since Teddy blew through on horseback 100 years ago. Sixteen-mile Achenbach Trail crosses, recrosses, and then re-recrosses the Little Missouri, winding up and down the barren clay mounds of the Achenbach Hills. Extend the hike to include the 11-mile Buckthorn Trail, which passes a Manhattan-size prairie dog colony. The Achenbach starts at the Squaw Creek Campground in the Park's North Unit. Call 701-842-2333 for backcountry permits.

2. Superior Hiking Trail, Minnesota. All the perks of high-alpine climbing, minus the altitude sickness. More than 200 miles of trail hug Lake Superior's western shoreline, contouring the 1,200-foot ridges of the Sawtooth Mountains. Start at Crosby Manitou State Park and hike north past craggy waterfalls, over chilly rivers, and through shadowy cedar groves that top out on basalt monoliths. For campsite and lodging information, call the Superior Hiking Trail Association at 218-834-2700.

3. The Backpack Trail, Yellow River State Forest, Iowa. Yes, there is at least one lovely 9,000-acre patch of northeast Iowa that hasn't been plowed and planted. This 25-mile loop meanders through wild-turkey riddled oak and hickory forest, and then tops out at a ridge with expansive views to Paint Creek Valley below. Watch for Cooper's Hawks circling overhead. Call 319-586-2254 for details.

4. Elk River National Recreation Trail, Kansas. A 15-mile ramble up and down Ozark ridges, following a high bluff past limestone boulders, through thick patches of eastern red cedar, and around the north shore of 13,000-acre Elk City Lake. But don't let the pastoral vibe fool you--copperheads abound. Call 316-336-2741 for details.

5. Knobstone Trail, Indiana. Not the horizontal Hoosierland you'd expect. This 58-mile hike is deceivingly difficult, climbing steep shale ridges and then dropping back into lush creek valleys. Seven nicely spaced trailheads break up the route, but no matter which section you choose, bring a lot of water or you'll be as parched as the surrounding rust-colored hills by hike's end. Call 317-232-4070 for details.


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