Hiking is already pretty awesome, but there’s just something about watching the sunrise on the trail that’s extra special. Even if you’re not a morning person, the experience will be well worth it.
So grab your travel mug, call a couple of friends, and find a sunrise hike near you. If you’re not sure where to start, check out the list below for some inspiration.
Cadillac Mountain in Maine
The Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail in Acadia National Park is probably one of the most well-known sunrise hikes in the U.S. For a portion of the year — typically between October and March — this is the first place in an easternmost state where the sun appears, according to USA Today.
This 4.2-mile out-and-back trail offers a panoramic view of the rocky shoreline and ocean. You definitely won’t be the only one taking in the sunrise here, so make sure you get your park pass and arrive as early as possible.
Overlook Mountain in New York
Overlook Mountain Trail is located in Overlook Mountain Wild Forest near Woodstock — if you’re in the city, this could make for a great weekend trip. This popular 4.6-mile out-and-back trail features an incredible 360-degree view of the sky and the mountainous landscape.
It’s best to enjoy the sunrise here between the months of April and November, this way you can avoid any unwanted snow or ice. To make things even better, hikers can explore the area for free!
Turtle Mound Trail in Florida
There’s really no wrong choice when it comes to catching the sunrise on Florida’s East Coast, but the Canaveral National Seashore is especially amazing. And if you’re looking for a short little route to enjoy at the same time, the Turtle Mound trail is perfect.
This is a 0.3-mile out-and-back boardwalk trail that provides a great view of thriving plant life and the ocean. For those that want to go on a sunrise hike but don’t really want to do anything super strenuous so early in the morning, this is a good option.
Cheboygan State Park Loop in Michigan
Along Michigan’s sunrise coast, hikers can explore the green, black, and blue trail loop in Cheboygan State Park. This 4.1-mile loop leads visitors through a lush forest, all the way to the beautiful shoreline of Lake Huron — a great place for the whole family to watch the sunrise. If you plan on driving into the park, make sure you have a recreation pass.
Look Rock Tower in Tennesse
For an easy trail that won’t disappoint, head to Look Rock Tower in the Great Smoky Mountains. This 0.8-mile out-and-back hike provides a spectacular view for very little effort and it’s open year-round. One AllTrails explorer described the destination as an “excellent spot to see a sunrise” and “easy to navigate in the dark.” Just make sure that it’s supposed to be a clear morning before planning your trip and heading up there.
Balanced Rock in Texas
Big Bend National Park in Texas has amazing scenery that works as the perfect backdrop for a nice sunrise. Balanced Rock is a 2-mile out-and-back trail that features a variety of wildlife, along with colorful wildflowers and other native desert plants — you’ll have plenty to check out on your way back to the lot, that’s for sure. As always, be prepared to pay the national park fee.
Clinton Lake in Kansas
The Clinton Lake North Shore Blue and White Loop Trail is a relaxing and low-key place to enjoy your morning. This 5.8-mile route takes you along Clinton Lake’s shore and through a wooded area full of flowers in the summer and bright foliage in the fall. Visitors can enjoy this trail between the months of April and September — there is a small state park entrance fee for daily use.
Painted Canyon in North Dakota
Painted Canyon Nature Trail is a 1.1-mile loop in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. This short route showcases a great view of the interesting rock formations that the park is known for. Not only is this a nice spot to watch the sunrise, but it’s also perfect for observing bison, wild horses, and other exciting wildlife. While it’s true that this trail is popular, visitors could easily have the place all to themselves if they plan accordingly.
Jenny Lake in Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park is one of those places that’s amazing no matter what, but Jenny Lake specifically is pretty breathtaking. Even though this is a longer hike — about 7.2 miles total — you can show up at the trailhead around sunrise and get a great view without even putting any miles in.
The route starts right at Jenny Lake, so you can watch as the sun casts its light over the iconic mountain range before enjoying the rest of the trail. If you’re lucky, you might be able to catch a glimpse of some wildlife too!
Sugarloaf Mountain Trail in Colorado
If you’re in Colorado, the Sugarloaf Mountain Trail is a nice place to watch the sunrise. This 1.3-mile out-and-back trail is located in Roosevelt National Forest and is usually frequented between March and November. Early risers will be rewarded with an expansive view of the surrounding mountains, as well as some lovely foliage. Plus, it’s completely free to hike.
Dead Horse Point Loop in Utah
There are a ton of wonderful places to spend your morning in Utah, but Dead Horse Point State Park is likely to be one of the least crowded and most relaxing. Head to the 1-mile Short Loop Trail to get a great overview of the area and to watch as the sun fills the canyon with early morning light. You can even bring your dog along on this one, as long as they’re on a leash.
Bishop Peak Trail in California
Bishop Peak Trail is located in the Bishop Peak Natural Area near San Luis Obispo. This moderately rated 3.4-mile out-and-back trail is very popular for hiking, running, birding, and of course, catching the sunrise and sunset. It also happens to be the tallest peak of the Morros. Visitors can enjoy this nice route year-round!
Sourdough Ridge in Washington
When it comes to hiking at Mount Rainer, it’s true that the early bird gets the worm. Not only is this true because arriving early is a good way to guarantee a parking spot, but also because the sunrises in this area are gorgeous.
Sourdough Ridge is a 2.9-mile out-and-back trail that features vibrant alpine forests, bright wildflowers, and a sweeping view of the surrounding landscape. Be sure to get to the park early to watch the sunrise over this massive volcano.