100 best hikes in America’s national parks revealed in new book from Backpacker magazine

Channel Islands National Park

Backpacker magazine is releasing a new hiking guide that features 100 adventures in national parks, including in Channel Islands National Park. Above, Anacapa Island.

(Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times)

Three great things about hiking in a national park: fresh air and your own two feet. Now a new book from Backpacker magazine can guide you to finding the best trails.

“Backpacker: The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes,” a new book by Ted Alvarez, the magazine’s Northwest editor, offers park-specific visiting tips and detailed hike profiles. The book also includes 100 maps, ranger bios and interviews and many eye-candy images.  

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I asked for tips on hikes for families in California, and these national parks topped his list.


“For Channel Islands, I’d recommend landing at Water Canyon on Santa Rosa [Island], where you can visit empty white sand beaches and scan the coast for sea lions, elephant seals, whales and dolphins on the way to East Point,” Alvarez said.

Redwood National and State Parks

Hike on trails lined with thick ferns and big trees in Redwood National and State Parks in Northern California.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

In Redwood National Park, he suggested hiking on the gentle, flat Redwood Creek trail. 


“It is good for all ages. You are surrounded by some of the biggest, tallest trees in the world, and there’s no need to worry about elevation gain,” he said. But Redwood Creek Trail does get long, and you can easily turn back. (Ask rangers about bridge outages and seasonal creek crossings.)
Beyond hiking, Alvarez said, Death Valley and Joshua Tree are great for night photography.  Death Valley is a certified International Dark Sky Place and happens to be having a booming wildflower season this year too. 

“The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes”

“The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes” will be released in April.

(Front cover photo by Ben Herndon/

Alvarez has a personal connection to national parks in shaping his career.

When he was 21, a trip to Glacier National Park convinced the budding music journalist to become a wilderness writer. Although the book is written with backpacking and multi-day hikes in mind, many hikes it covers are great for all levels of hikers. 

Backpacker editors, writers and others contributed too, especially Steve Howe, Alvarez’s Utah expert.

The book arrives in April to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial. It can be pre-ordered through Amazon.


Info: “Backpacker The National Parks Coast to Coast: 100 Best Hikes” 


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