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Are you looking for a unique and unforgettable hiking experience? If so, you should consider hiking at night. There’s something magical about being out in nature under the stars. It is a truly unique experience that you won’t soon forget.
I will share some of the best hiking trails to go hiking at night in the United States. So, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned hiker, the Geez hopes you’ll find this post helpful.
When planning to hike at night, it’s important to be aware of nighttime challenges. Hiking in the dark isn’t the same as hiking during the day. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Limited visibility: Hiking in the dark can be challenging because of the limited visibility. It’s important to use a headlamp or flashlight to light your way.
- Preparedness: Be prepared for anything, such as unexpected changes in weather or wildlife encounters. The noise of a deer bolting from its bedding at night can scare the bejeesus out of you.
- Stay on the trail: It’s important to stay on the trail when hiking in the dark. It is much easier to lose the trail and become lost at night. Trails don’t look the same at night as they do in the day.
- Don’t hike alone at night: Hiking with others is always a good idea, especially when hiking in the dark. With limited visibility, it is much easier to stumble and fall. Having a hiking partner provides peace of mind should an injury occur.
Let’s get started!
Benefits of Hiking at Night
- Reduced crowds: Moonlight hikes are generally less crowded than daytime hikes. You are afforded the opportunity of peace and serenity not easily experienced during daytime treks.
- Cooler temperatures: The temperatures are cooler at night, making it a more comfortable hike. This is especially advantageous with hikes having a lot of elevation gain, as you won’t sweat as much.
- Stunning views: Moonlight casts a magical glow on the landscape, making it even more beautiful than it is during the day. I just wish a camera could capture that beauty, but unfortunately, a picture doesn’t do it justice.
- Wildlife viewing: You may be able to see nocturnal animals that are more active at night.
Challenges of Hiking Trails at Night
- Limited visibility: It’s important to use a headlamp or flashlight to light your way. However, try to limit your use of artificial light to get the full enjoyment of your nighttime trek. Hiking using only the light of the moon when it is safe to do so extends the battery life of your headlamp.
- Safety: It’s important to be aware of the risks of hiking in the dark, such as tripping or falling. I always use trekking poles when hiking for this very reason. As a senior hiker, my balance isn’t what it used to be.
- Planning: It’s important to plan your hike carefully, taking into account the time of moonrise and sunset.
Tips for Planning a Hike at Night:
- Choose a trail that you’re familiar with or one that is well-marked.
- Start your hike early in the evening, so you have plenty of time to hike before the moon sets.
- Bring a headlamp or flashlight. In addition, carry extra batteries or a secondary light source should your primary one fail.
- Dress in layers, so you can adjust to the changing temperatures.
- Bring plenty of water and snacks. You can still become dehydrated at night if you don’t bring enough water.
- Let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. I hate to think that you might require the services of a search and rescue team, but it does happen.
Further Reading: Hiking for Seniors: How to Decide What Hiking Poles to Get
Best Places to go Hiking at Night in the United States
Glacier National Park, Montana
This park is home to stunning mountain scenery and abundant wildlife, making it a great place to go night hiking. The trails are well-maintained and easy to follow, even in the dark.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite is another great option for moonlight hiking. The park is home to towering waterfalls, lush forests, and granite cliffs, all of which are beautiful to see at night. The trails are well maintained, minimizing tripping hazards.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to go hiking at night if you’re looking for a challenge. The trails here are more rugged than in some other parks, but the views are worth it.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Shenandoah National Park is home to the Appalachian Trail, which is a great place to go moonlight hiking. The trail is well-maintained and offers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California
These parks are home to some of the tallest trees in the world, making them a truly unique place to go night hiking. The trails here are less crowded than in some other parks, making it a great place to escape the noise and enjoy the peace and quiet of nature.
Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Mount Rainier is a dormant volcano that towers over the surrounding landscape. The park is home to a variety of trails, making it a great place to go hike at night no matter your skill level.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Joshua Tree is a unique desert landscape that’s home to a variety of plants and animals. The park is open 24 hours a day, making it a great place to go moonlight hiking.
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park is home to a variety of arches and other geological formations, making it a great place to go moonlight hiking. The arches take on a surreal look against the nighttime sky. The park is open 24 hours a day, but it’s important to be aware of the limited visibility at night.
A Few More Reminders for Hiking at Night
Here are some other things to keep in mind when planning a hike at night:
- The time of month: The best time to go moonlight hiking is during a full moon. The moon is brightest during this period. Oftentimes you can hike without having to use a headlamp or flashlight.
- The weather: Be sure to check the weather forecast before you go, as it can change quickly at night.
- The gear: You’ll need a headlamp or flashlight, sturdy shoes, and plenty of water. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries or an alternative light source should your primary one fail.
- The company: Hiking with someone else is always a good idea, especially when hiking in the dark. There is safety in numbers.
Wrapping it up
These are just a few of the many great places to go hiking at night in the United States. No matter where you choose to go, be sure to do your research and plan your hike accordingly. The National Park Service website is a great resource to help you plan. And most importantly, have fun! With a little planning and preparation, you can have a safe and enjoyable moonlight hike. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and explore!