Want to Climb a Mountain? Six Easy Peaks to Climb in The United States
There are thousands of mountains around North America (and the world) that offer the sweet reward of a mountain summit without guides, technical climbing experience, or oxygen tanks. In fact, many mountain hikes are nothing more than a well-marked steep trail of switchbacks and the occasional ridgeline scramble.
If standing on a summit piques your interest, here are relatively easy mountain climbs to add to your list:
1. Mount Mansfield, Vermont
Technically, it’s the highest point in Vermont, but the approach is relatively easy. Start at the Sunset Ridge trail and follow a path up 2600 ft over 3.3 miles. A majority of this hike happens above the treeline, allowing for a fun and scenic hike across a ridgeline to the summit. For beginner hikers, allow 4-5 hours.
A few hours drive is Mount Washington, the highest point in New Hampshire. Tie the two together for an epic summit weekend.
2. Guadalupe Peak, Texas
Another state high-point, Guadalupe Peak, rises high above Texan salt fields. From the parking lot, follow the well-marked trail for just over four miles to the summit. Elevation gain will be just over 3,000 feet, which means it’ll be a challenging, yet rewarding feat for a beginner.
Before leaving for the mountain make sure you have ample water. The peak is surrounded by a dry and desolate desert.
3. Grays Peak, Colorado
A ‘14er’ refers to mountains in the United States reaching over 14,000 feet. Colorado holds the most 14ers in the country, but California holds the tallest mountain in the lower 48 states, Mt. Whitney, at 14,505.
Luckily for beginner hikers, there are a few easy 14ers mountains to hike. Gray’s Peak (14,270) in Colorado is a straightforward 3,000ft gain, 8-mile round-trip hike that can easily be completed in a single day during late-summer months.
4. Half Dome, California
By far the longest hike of the group, Half Dome in California remains an easy, yet dramatic, peak. The dome is one of the world’s most recognizable icons, and standing on top comes with deserved bragging-rights. The 18 miles round-trip hike follows a well-marked trail past numerous waterfalls and high above Yosemite Valley. When you stand on the summit, you’ll look 4500 feet below to where your hike began in the early hours of the morning. Allow 8-14 hours, depending on hiking speed and health. (pack lots of water!)
5. Mount Olympus, Utah
Perhaps one of my favorite summits we've done in the United States, Mount Olympus towers over the surrounding Salt Lake City area at 9026ft. From down in the metro sprawl you can often pick out the elevated peak 4000ft above the valley floor. The hike is short (7 miles RT) but steep, gaining over 1000/ft per mile on the 3.75 mile ascent. The hardest section sits just below the summit and is considered a class 3 scramble. When we took the summit in spring 2017, there was a foot of fresh snow the last thousand feet. Although the scramble was icy, we still summited without issue and therefore enjoyed the peak in complete solitude.
6. Mount Mitchell, North Carolina
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak east of the Mississippi. A vast majority of visitors drive to the top of the mountain, but the most authentic way to reach the top is via the 10.4 mile Mount Mitchell Trail. The trail rises over 3,600 feet to the summit and rewards hikers with a 360-degree view of the surrounding North Carolina Appalachian Mountains. The trail allows for an easy incline, making the hike long, but enjoyable.
At any given moment, Shalee is either lost, hunting for ice cream, or obsessively planning her next adventure.
Born and raised in rural Michigan, she began exploring the shores of Great Lakes as a teen, often sleeping in her car to save money. Eventually, her urge to explore pushed beyond her Midwest borders. Today, Shalee shares her tips and stories to thousands of readers interested in adventure, outdoor, and sustainable tourism. Her pack now includes two spunky hiking cats and her partner, Josh. Learn more about her here.