5 Beautiful Hiking Trails in the Midwest

May 6th, 2015 | Cobra Electronics | Chicago, IL

The United States is filled with natural beauty. From ocean coastlines to inland lakes, forests, canyons, etc., there is no shortage of diverse terrain to explore. Some of the most famous National Parks are out West in California, Washington, Utah, Colorado and Oregon. But there are plenty of Midwest sites to uncover off the beaten path.  Whether a day trip, weekend, or a backpack excursion, these five trails will delight all types of Midwestern trail enthusiasts with fantastic views.

1. Minnesota- Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche State Park

Tettegouche State Park offers the rustic beauty of the dense forest of red and white pines. The hilly terrain features breathtaking views of both Lake Superior in addition to inland waterfalls, streams and lakes. The hiking here is the most advanced on our list with all trails marked moderate to difficult in challenge. The 23 miles of trails expose hikers to shoreline sights and inland tributaries.

Good For- The experienced hiker looking for a challenge.

2. Michigan- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks Natural Lakeshore is appropriately named for the captivating shoreline where sandstone cliffs meet the radiant blue water of Lake Superior. Of the three Lake Superior destinations included on the list, this is the only one that offers miles of beaches to explore. No matter what type of hike you long for—a short day hike, or a more immersive backpacking experience— Pictured Rocks has 90 miles of hiking trails with the beauty of beaches, sand dunes and shoreline cliffs. These are set against the inland streams, lakes and waterfalls. If you want to stray from the path, visit Spray Falls. It’s a 70’ waterfall into Lake Superior that harbors the remnants of an 1856 shipwreck!

Good For: Those who enjoy long walks on the beach or frequent scenery changes.

3. Wisconsin- Apostle Islands

Apostle Islands

If you’re looking for a diverse retreat, visit the 22 islands that make up the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin. Twelve of the islands provide 50 miles of hiking trails for all hiking abilities. The main Lakeshore trail is one that experienced hikers would enjoy. Other trails delight users with historic sites. Lighthouses from the 1800s, old farm equipment and houses charm some trails, while others offer views of the clear waters of Lake Superior. Whether its great views, historic sites or water access, there is truly something everyone can enjoy here.

Good For: Those who enjoy easy hikes where you can focus on the scenery. It also makes for a nice hike for history buffs.

4. Ohio- Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills Ohio

Hocking hills is a nature preserve in Logan, Oh. Although not set on a lake, the site offers stunning scenery of distinct natural elements including caves, cliffs and waterfalls. Ash Cave (below) is the largest recess cave in the state. Hiking is one of the many activities offered to enjoy this natural getaway. The trails are generally rather short and simple, serving as a guide to the next site you want to uncover.

Good for: It’s perfect for a weekend away. Two days is a good amount of time to cover ample ground. It’s also a good option for those who enjoy nature by day, but eventually retreating to the amenities of a cabin or campground.

5. Missouri- Dogwood Canyon

Dogwood Canyon Missouri

Dogwood Canyon is a 10,000 acre nature preserve located in the Missouri Ozarks. Unlike the other government-owned State and National Parks on this list, this private preserve was acquired in 1990 by the owner of Bass Pro Shops to promote natural conservation and preservation of the land for the benefit of the general public. Much of the 6.5 miles of paved trails overlook spring-fed water is so crystal clear that fish, swimming at the bottom of the streams, may be seen from the trail!

Good For: With 6.5 miles of hiking trails, it's good for a one-day excursion.