Go with the flow on your next hike. Discover trails run alongside some of the most scenic rivers and streams in North America. Take wet walks in shallow stretches of current to feel the water surge against your ankles. After your trek, cool your heels at a nearby Good Sam Park, where you can expect all the comforts and amenities needed to soothe your tired feet on these waterway hikes.
Grand Junction, Colorado
The largest town on the western slope of Colorado sits at the confluence of the Gunnison and Colorado rivers. Hikers can hit the area’s surrounding trails for views of sandstone canyons and granite-gneiss-schist rock formations. If you prefer relaxed bodies of water to craggy rock faces, set out for the James M. Robb-Colorado River State Park, a string of stunning lakes situated along the banks of the Colorado River. Drop a line for bass or northern pike in this tranquil environment. Several trails lead hikers along the shores, with several spots long the way to turn off and drop a line.
Zion National Park’s Narrows, Utah
There are lots of hikes in the U.S. that lead through rivers. You can find some of them here. If you have the good fortune to be in Utah’s Zion National Park in the summer, make sure you hike up the Narrows. This popular trek is one of the best ways to keep cool in the summer because the Virgin River never gets warmer than 60 degrees. The low temperature cools the air between steep rocks walls on each side.
East Potomac Park, Washington, DC
Occupying 395 acres on an island in the Potomac River, this delightful expanse of nature is threaded with trails that will help you keep and shape and will treat you to fantastic views of the river and city. Set out on the 4.1-mile perimeter trail; it’s best in spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. Make sure you check out the Jefferson Memorial on the northern end of the hike. Much of the park consists of the East Potomac Golf Course, with a 100-stall driving range.
Middle Fork Gila River Trail, New Mexico
In the heart of the Gila National Forest, a trail runs along the banks of the area’s major waterway. The Middle Fork Gila River Trail takes hikers on a 1.1-mile pathway that offers spectacular glimpses in one of the southwest’s most scenic rivers. The in-and-back trail runs near Pinos Altos and features hot springs. Hiking is fairly moderate. Dogs and horses are allowed on this trail.
Deschutes River Loop Trail, Oregon
Near Bend, Oregon, the Deschutes River entices anglers and rafters to play on the current. Prefer to stay dry? Hikers can enjoy the scenic Deschutes River from the land with a hike along the Deschutes River Trail Loop. Running 3 miles along the waterway, this path takes trekkers to views of the cascading creek and several waterfalls amid a forested backdrop. Discover a new hiking experience in the Lava River Cave, the longest continuous lava tube in the state. If you aren’t afraid of the dark, grab a lantern and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.
Mississippi River Trail, Itasca State Park, Minnesota
This unforgettable park takes hikers where it all began: The headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River. Start at Itasca State Park, at Itasca Lake. Here, the fledgling river is so thin that you can practically jump across it (how’s that for bragging?). North of the park, the main trail connects to a number of city and regional trails. From Bemidji, the trail goes southeast along the Paul Bunyan Trail, a state-developed rail-trail conversion.