Top Spring Break Hiking Spots

Daily Health Solutions, Featured Article, Healthy Living, Healthy Travel
on March 5, 2012
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There’s more to spring break than amusement-park lines and flopping on the beach. The annual family holiday is also a great time to take a hike. Luckily, some of the hottest spring break destinations have the most alluring trails. Here are our top picks.

PENSACOLA BEACH, FLORIDA

The Seashore Trail

When it comes to spring break on the Florida Panhandle, Panama City Beach is the king. But nearby Pensacola Beach arguably boasts the best place for hiking.

This 25.3-mile Seashore Trail is the northernmost point of The Florida National Scenic Trail, a series of statewide trails totaling close to 1,500 miles. This particular leg, which passes through the Gulf Islands National Seashore, is the only part of the National Scenic Trail with an ocean view.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate (depending on distance traveled)

Highlights: Sandy beaches and historic Fort Pickens

Cost: Free

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, TEXAS

Laguna Madre Nature Trail

South Padre is home to a Texas-sized spring break blowout, but the sunny southern island also sports a softer side: the Laguna Madre Nature Trail. Some 300 bird species populate the route, from the island’s famous laughing gulls to the Yellow-billed Loon, the Brown Booby and the White-Morph Reddish Egret. Hikers may even spot the occasional croc.

Difficulty: Easy

Highlights: Four acres of wetlands

Cost: Free

MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA

Sandpiper Pond Trail

Located within Huntington Beach State Park, this two-mile route winds through freshwater and saltwater marshes, transporting hikers far away from the hustle and bustle of the Grand Strand Coastal area.

Difficulty: asy

Highlights: Secluded beach and birds galore

Cost: $5 adult; $3.25 senior; $3 youth (age 6-15); free (under 5)

CANCUN, MEXICO 

Rio Secreto Nature Preserve

Trying to decide whether to take a hike or take a swim? At Rio Secreto Nature Preserve, 40 miles south of Cancun in Playa del Carmen, you can do both. Walk, then float or swim along the 7.5 mile underground system of partially flooded caves as experienced guides lead the way. Tour operators provide wet suits, helmets and walking sticks.

Difficulty: Moderate.

Highlights: Breathtaking vibe, plus stalactites and stalagmites.

Cost: $69 adults; $34.50 children (age 4-11).

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Mission Trails Regional Park

One of the largest urban parks in the U.S., Mission Trails lays claim to nearly 5,800 acres of both developed and natural parkland, including 40 miles of trails. Plenty of hills—including the 1,590-ft. Cowles Mountain and the 900-ft. Fortuna Mountain—make for some inviting and potentially challenging hikes.

Difficulty: Easy, moderate or challenging, depending on route

Highlights: The iron footbridge along the Old Canyon Trail and views from Cowles Mountain

Cost: Free