Kay Rodriguez - Chief Adventurer
Author

Kay Rodriguez

Browsing
Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, paddling, or playing in the snow.

Virginia Beach is best known as a coastal weekend getaway for Virginians, with plenty of seafood joints and sunbathing spots. But did you know that Virginia Beach is also home to some of the coolest state parks and nature preserves for hiking in the area? There are tons of great hiking trails in Virginia Beach where you can see local wildlife, unique landscapes, and lesser-known parts of the coast. We created this guide to the best hikes in Virginia Beach to help you discover some new places to explore the outdoors near you!

Note that most of the hiking in Virginia Beach is on mostly flat, easy stretches of trail. You won’t find mountains or cliffs here! What the trails lack in elevation changes, they make up for in coastal scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities. (And if you’re craving hikes with more elevation gain, you’ll need to head west to Richmond or Shenandoah National Park.)

Best Hikes in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach Boardwalk

  • Trail Length: 3 miles total
  • Highlights: Great views of the main stretches of the coastline in Virginia Beach

While not exactly a traditional hiking trail, the Virginia Beach Boardwalk is an easy, paved spot for a waterfront stroll. With great views of the ocean, access to shops and restaurants, and people watching galore, this is a perfect place to soak in the energy and bustle of Virginia Beach. One of the best parts of the boardwalk is that the bike path is separate, so you won’t have to worry as much about sharing the path with bikers. Whether you’re just visiting or are a Virginia Beach local, the boardwalk is a quintessential spot for an easy walk or run. Go early to avoid crowds, though!

Cape Henry Trail

  • Trail Length: 10.1 miles out-and-back
  • Highlights: Long, forested trail that winds through marshland and has wildlife viewing opportunities

The longest trail on our list of hikes in Virginia Beach is the Cape Henry Trail, which extends from First Landing State Park (below) through the forested areas of its namesake cape. Unlike many of the trails we share, this one is unique because it mostly runs through the forest instead of the coast. Its prime location next to several marshy areas provides ample opportunities for wildlife viewing and discovering all of the fascinating plants and trees that live in these humid, wet areas. Note that this trail is shared with bikers, so stay alert while hiking!

If you want to extend your hike, the Cape Henry Trail also connects to nearby Long Creek trail.

Photo Credit: Virginia State Parks (Flickr CC)

First Landing State Park Trails

First Landing State Park is one of the most beautiful and popular state parks in Virginia, and it’s located very close to Virginia Beach. Situated on the coast of Cape Henry, this state park is full of some of the best hikes in Virginia Beach. Whether you’re looking for an easy, short, and family-friendly trail or a longer, more moderate adventure, there’s a great trail in First Landing for you to tackle.

Some of our favorite Virginia Beach hikes in First Landing State Park include:

  • Fox Run Trail (1.2 miles) – The shortest and easiest trail in First Landing, Fox Run is a fantastic trail for seeing the marshy areas, wetlands interspersed with tall grasses, and trees growing out of the water. Great for families!
  • Bald Cypress Trail (1.6 miles) – This short trail passes through wooden boardwalks that run over the lower wetlands of First Landing. Great for all experience levels and shared with bikers.
  • Osmanthus Trail (3.1 miles) – This hike-only trail is mostly forested and provides some really nice, shaded paths to walk through on hotter days. Note that the trail can get very muddy after rain – we don’t recommend trying it in wet weather.
  • White Hill Lake Trail (7.9 miles) – For a longer, slightly more tricky trail, the White Hill Lake Trail is a less popular, moderate trail through marsh areas and around a scenic lake. Because of its length, this trail will take a few hours, so it’s good to start early in the day.

Pleasure House Point Trail

  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Highlights: An easy, sandy trail through coastal wetlands and marshes

For an easy, rugged dirt trail with some beautiful photo opportunities, look no further than the Pleasure House Point trail. Situated close to the shoreline in a marshy area, this sunset favorite offers fabulous bird watching opportunities on its 2.3 mile stretch of trail. The trails here are largely surrounded by tall grasses with views of the calm wetlands of the area, a great spot for enjoying nature on one of the most tranquil hikes in Virginia Beach.

Photo Credit: Virginia State Parks (Flickr CC)

Dunes and Seaside Trail at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge

  • Trail Length: 2.0 miles
  • Highlights: Coastal views along magnificent sand dunes and wooden boardwalks

Located on a narrow strip of land between the Atlantic Ocean and Shipps Bay, Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is just a few minutes south of Virginia Beach. It’s one of the most scenic parks in the region, making it a great area sporting many wonderful Virginia Beach hiking trails. The Dunes and Seaside Trail at Back Bay Wildlife Refuge is an excellent, beginner-friendly trail to get a feel for the park. With wooden boardwalks and sandy paths weaving through the park’s many marshes and wetlands, it’s a lovely hiking trail for a morning stroll and for bird watching.

Lake Trashmore Trail

  • Trail Length: 1.9 miles
  • Highlights: An easy, paved trail that wraps around a picturesque lake

Unlike its name suggests, there is no garbage to be found on this trail! The Lake Trashmore trail is an accessible, paved trail that’s suitable for any hiker. As one of the best easy hikes in Virginia Beach, this trail circles the peaceful Lake Trashmore and the green spaces that surround it. The trail is very simple and straightforward, and it feels more like a suburban hike than a true immersion in nature, but if you’re looking for a casual spot to stroll as the sun is going down, Lake Trashmore is a fabulous option.

Photo Credit: Taber Andrew Bain (Flickr CC)

Marsh Ridge Trail at False Cape State Park

  • Trail Length: 1.4 miles plus hike (or shuttle) from parking lot
  • Highlights: Stunning sand dune views, coast access, and bird watching from this short trail

Arguably one of the most beautiful hiking trails in Virginia Beach is the Marsh Ridge Trail at False Cape State Park. This pristine nature area serves as a home to tons of species of local and migratory birds, depending on when in the year you choose to hike. Along the trail, you’ll see epic views of the park’s sand dunes, coastline, and marshy areas.

To get to the trail, you’ll have to either hike (~3 miles each way) or take a shuttle from the parking lot at the Refuge to the trail head. Bikers share this trail, so be sure to stay alert and watch out for them! Note that the Marsh Ridge trail is closed seasonally (usually November to April) to protect the habitat of migratory birds in the area.

Lake Lawson Loop Trail

  • Trail Length: 1.6 miles
  • Highlights: Another scenic loop trail that cuts through the Lake Lawson & Lake Smith Natural area

For a relaxed, easy hiking trail, the Lake Lawson Loop Trail is an awesome local option. This short gravel trail offers a surprising amount of variety for hikers of any level, including kids, families, and dogs. Views of the lake, lots of sunken trees, and forests will greet you on this 1.6 mile trail. You’ll often see people from the nearby neighborhoods going for an evening stroll or a morning walk here, and with trails that mostly border the water, you won’t ever have to go far for a nice, peaceful view.

Additional Resources

What to Pack

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Articles

During the summer, choosing what to wear for a hike might seem a little intimidating. Wear too much on a sunny day hike and you’ll be bogged down, hot, and sweaty! That’s why we always recommend having a few pairs of hiking shorts for the warmest days of the year when you still want to get outside. A good pair of men’s hiking shorts is breathable, lightweight, and flexible so it keeps your legs cool without constricting your movement. We created this guide to the best hiking shorts for men to help you choose a pair (or a few!) that are comfortable for your summer hiking adventures.

Choosing the Best Hiking Shorts for Men

Breathability

In our opinion, one of the most important aspects of any men’s hiking shorts is their breathability. A high-quality pair of hiking shorts is always made of materials that allow airflow and prevent hot air from getting trapped next to your skin. Otherwise, your legs will get sweaty while hiking and that moisture will build up inside of your shorts, which feels gross and uncomfortable.

There are lots of different materials that are breathable – some of our favorites include hemp fabrics, synthetics like nylon or polyester, and Merino wool (for colder conditions). Our recommendation when choosing the best hiking shorts for men is to avoid all cotton fabrics and instead opt for a material that touts “sweat-wicking” or “moisture-wicking” properties.

Stretch

Another important trait of any men’s hiking shorts is stretchiness. Any decent pair of hiking shorts needs to provide a full range of movement without ripping or coming apart. This will enable you to scramble over rocks, hop over downed trees, or climb steep trails without feeling like your shorts are preventing certain movements. Similar to breathability, certain fabrics like Spandex are better for this, but the best way to determine stretchiness in any pair of hiking shorts is to try them on.

Durability

So you’ve found a pair of shorts that’s breathable and stretchy. Awesome! The next thing you need to look for is durability, because the last thing you want is to buy a pair of hiking shorts that gets destroyed immediately after a few tough hikes. The best hiking shorts for men should last you for many, many miles of hiking.

You won’t be able to test this when you try on a pair of shorts, but reading online reviews and asking friends for recommendations can absolutely help. Additionally, many companies (REI, PrAna, etc.) offer guarantees on the quality of their gear and will allow returns if it fails to hold up on the trails.

Comfort, Fit, & Style

While highly subjective, comfort, fit, and style should absolutely factor into your purchasing decisions for hiking shorts. Any pair of gear you buy should feel amazing on your body and fit in with your preferences and desired aesthetic (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!).

Here are some of the style and fit elements people often consider:

  • Design
  • Comfort of the materials
  • Number of pockets and storage areas
  • Color and patterns

Some of these might sound silly, but if you’re going to spend money on some of the best hiking shorts for men, you should absolutely find ones that look and feel great.

Price

While we aim to keep price out of the equation when we’re evaluating each of the individual pairs of hiking shorts for men, it’s absolutely an important factor to consider when you’re choosing a pair for yourself. The best hiking shorts aren’t always the most expensive. Typically, we’ve found that high-quality men’s hiking shorts range from $30-80, but there’s a lot of variability within that range.

Our Reviews: Best Hiking Shorts for Men

Patagonia Quandary Shorts
Overall Best Hiking Shorts for Men

  • Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% Spandex, DWR
  • What We Like: These shorts have everything a hiker could want: lots of pockets, a durable design, and breathable, stretchy fabric for comfort on any trail

Built with hikers and outdoor adventurers in mind, the Patagonia Quandary Shorts are, in our opinion, the absolute best hiking shorts for men. Designed like chinos, these zip-up shorts are made with a rugged nylon and spandex blend with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that’s tough enough for any trail with enough stretch to accommodation a wide range of motion. Plus, they’re sweat-wicking and breathable, a huge plus for hot weather hikes where you’ll want to keep sweat at bay. There are also 4 spacious pockets (two in the front and two in the rear) for storing small essentials on the trails.

We struggled to find faults with these men’s hiking shorts. We love how versatile they are – tough enough for strenuous hiking but sleek enough to wear casually while running errands. If you’re looking for a pair of the best hiking shorts for men, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Patagonia Quandary Shorts.


Eddie Bauer Guide Pro Shorts
A Close Runner Up

  • Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% Spandex
  • What We Like: Built for the toughest trails, these shorts feel very durable without compromising on comfort

Eddie Bauer makes fantastic, rugged outdoor gear for hikers and backpackers, and their Guide Pro Shorts for men are an excellent addition to any outdoor wardrobe. These shorts maximize breathability, but provide enough coverage for scrambling or hiking up steep trails. The men’s version of these shorts has a lot of pockets – 6 of them across the sides and back – providing optimal storage on the trails without looking or feeling bulky.

We love these hiking shorts for men because they’re built to last and are versatile enough to wear in your day-to-day activities, too. They also come in a wide variety of colors, so you’re likely to find something that suits your aesthetic preferences.


Outdoor Research Ferrosi Short
Best Shorter-Cut Men’s Hiking Shorts

  • Materials: 86% Nylon, 14% Spandex
  • What We Like: These OR hiking shorts are fantastic for men who want a shorter fit without compromising on durability or stretch

Most of the shorts we’ve listed so far are typical cargo-length shorts, which hit above the knee. However, for men that prefer a shorter cut, the Outdoor Research Ferrosi Shorts are arguably the best out there. These shorts have the stretch, comfort and durability of many of the other serious hiking shorts on our list, but come in 8-inch and 10-inch options. Just because they’re short doesn’t mean they’re lacking in features, though – there are 5 whole pockets in these hiking shorts, great for storing your hiking essentials, a wallet, or a phone. We’d wholeheartedly recommend the OR Ferrosi Shorts to any men who want shorter cut hiking shorts made of the highest-quality fabrics and materials.


Little Donkey Andy Men’s Shorts
Best Budget Hiking Shorts for Men

  • Materials: Unknown
  • What We Like: Affordable and comfortable active shorts that work really well in hot weather and come in lots of colors

Looking for the best hiking shorts for men on a budget? Look no further than the Little Donkey Andy Men’s Hiking Shorts. As the most affordable men’s hiking shorts on our list, these cargo-style shorts offer plenty of pockets for storage and room for breathability. With several colors and sizes to choose from, these shorts are a great value for the money. However, as with many low-budget gear items, you often get what you pay for in terms of durability. If replacing your gear more often doesn’t bother you, these are a great bargain for some fantastic hiking shorts!


PrAna Stretch Zion Shorts

  • Materials: 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • What We Like: The Stretch Zion Shorts offer the same level of durability, toughness, and comfort we expect from PrAna in lots of different colors

We love PrAna gear for hiking, and the PrAna Stretch Zion Shorts are no exception. With excellent breathability and stretch, these shorts are designed for rugged terrain and steep scrambles without being too bulky or stiff. The nylon and spandex blend is soft and comfortable for long hikes or backcountry treks. We’ve adventured for years in our PrAna gear and there’s no doubt that these are some of the best hiking shorts for men.

While many customers love these shorts, some say the belt isn’t great. Not a huge deal, as you can easily buy an outdoor-friendly belt to wear with them. The Stretch Zion Shorts also only have 3 pockets – less than most of the other options on our list – so if you like lots of pocket space you may want to consider a different pair.


Columbia Silver Ridge

  • Materials: 100% Nylon with 100% Polyester mesh
  • What We Like: Columbia is known for quality gear at a good value price, and the Silver Ridge cargo shorts are no exception

Columbia makes some of our favorite outdoor gear out there, and their Columbia Silver Ridge Shorts are an excellent option for summer hiking. With a cargo-style construction, these are some of the best hiking shorts for men because they’ve got tons of pockets and are super comfortable (and come at a reasonable price, too!). Because of their tough materials and versatile design, we recommend these shorts not only for hiking but for climbing and travel, too. However, they are a little bit less stretchy than some of the other options on our list, so if you prefer more flexible fabrics, we’d recommend some of the other shorts on our list.


REI Co-op Men’s Active Pursuits Shorts

  • Materials: 86% Polyester, 14% Spandex
  • What We Like: They’re lightweight, ultra comfortable, and versatile for many outdoor activities, travel, or casual wear

Made for running, working out, climbing, and hiking, the REI Men’s Active Pursuits Shorts are a fantastic addition to any outdoorsy wardrobe. Made with 14% spandex, these stretchy, light shorts are great in extra hot or humid weather. We especially like them for easy to moderate hikes and for trail running because they’re so breezy and light. Note that these shorts only have one tiny waist pocket (like running shorts), so hikers who like to have pockets for storage may want to consider other options on our list.


The North Face Men’s Paramount Active Shorts

  • Materials: 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex
  • What We Like: A casual, sleek design with high-quality, flexible materials makes these shorts an excellent option for tougher, more strenuous hikes

If you’re looking for a hardy pair of shorts you can also wear casually, The North Face Men’s Paramount Active Shorts are a fantastic choice. These streamlined, simple hiking shorts for men are made of a high-quality, flexible polyester and spandex blend, making these a great option for hiking, scrambling, and even climbing. Moreover, they’re designed like chino style shorts so they’re easy to wear out to lunch or while running errands.

Many men love the comfort and breathability of these shorts, which are two critical characteristics for solid hiking gear. Plus, The North Face has a lifetime manufacturer’s guarantee to ensure you’re protected against manufacturing defaults – we’ve used this before on TNF gear and can confirm it’s valid!


Patagonia Men’s Baggies

  • Materials: 100% Nylon, DWR
  • What We Like: These ultra lightweight, breathable men’s hiking shorts are great for minimalist hikers or extra hot environments

If you live in a very hot place or simply prefer to purchase gear that’s ultra lightweight, the Patagonia Baggies are some of the most popular lightweight hiking shorts for men. Made of 100% nylon with a variety of fun colors and patterns, these shorts are especially great for the beach or hikes where you plan to swim because they dry quickly compared to others on our list. Many customers love these shorts and buy multiple pairs because they’re so comfortable and versatile!


Additional Resources

During warmer months of the year, choosing what to wear for a hike might seem intimidating. Wear too much and you’ll be bogged down, hot, and sweaty! That’s why we always recommend having a few pairs of hiking shorts for the warmest days of the year when you still want to get outside. A good pair of women’s hiking shorts is breathable, lightweight, and flexible so it keeps your legs cool without constricting your movement. We created this guide to the best hiking shorts for women to help you choose a pair (or a few!) that are comfortable for any trail.

Choosing the Best Hiking Shorts for Women

Breathability

In our opinion, one of the most important aspects of any women’s hiking shorts is their breathability. A high-quality pair of hiking shorts is always made of materials that allow airflow and prevent hot air from getting trapped next to your skin. Otherwise, your legs will get sweaty while hiking and that moisture will build up inside of your shorts, which feels gross and uncomfortable.

There are lots of different materials that are breathable – some of our favorites include hemp fabrics, synthetics like nylon or polyester, and Merino wool (for colder conditions). Our recommendation when choosing the best hiking shorts for women is to avoid all cotton fabrics and instead opt for a material that touts “sweat-wicking” or “moisture-wicking” properties.

Stretch

Another important trait of any women’s hiking shorts is stretchiness. Any decent pair of hiking shorts needs to provide a full range of movement without ripping or coming apart. This will enable you to scramble over rocks, hop over downed trees, or climb steep trails without feeling like your shorts are preventing certain movements. Similar to breathability, certain fabrics like Spandex are better for this, but the best way to determine stretchiness in any pair of women’s hiking shorts is to try them on.

Durability

So you’ve found a pair of shorts that’s breathable and stretchy. Awesome! The next thing you need to look for is durability, because the last thing you want is to buy a pair of women’s hiking shorts that gets destroyed immediately after a few tough hikes. The best hiking shorts for women should last you for many, many miles of hiking.

You won’t be able to test this when you try on a pair of shorts, but reading online reviews and asking friends for recommendations can absolutely help. Additionally, many companies (REI, PrAna, etc.) offer guarantees on the quality of their gear and will allow returns if it fails to hold up on the trails.

Comfort, Fit, & Style

While highly subjective, comfort, fit, and style should absolutely factor into your purchasing decisions for hiking shorts. Any pair of gear you buy should feel amazing on your body and fit in with your preferences and desired aesthetic (and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!).

Here are some of the style and fit elements women often consider:

  • Design
  • Baggy or slim fit
  • Length of the shorts (short, mid, knee length)
  • Comfort of the materials
  • Number of pockets and storage areas
  • Color and patterns

Some of these might sound silly, but if you’re going to spend money on some of the best hiking shorts for women, you should absolutely find ones that look and feel great on your body.

Price

While we aim to keep price out of the equation when we’re evaluating each of the individual pairs of hiking shorts for women, it’s absolutely an important factor to consider when you’re choosing a pair for yourself. The best hiking shorts aren’t always the most expensive. Typically, we’ve found that high-quality women’s hiking shorts range from $30-80, but there’s a lot of variability within that range.

Our Reviews: Best Hiking Shorts for Women

Patagonia Quandary Shorts
Overall Best Hiking Shorts for Women

  • Materials: 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex
  • Length: 5-inch and 7-inch lengths
  • What We Like: Super solid, rugged construction and materials combines with stretch and sweat-wicking abilities to create the perfect hiking shorts (with LOTS of pockets)

Built with hikers and outdoor adventurers in mind, the Patagonia Quandary Shorts are some of the absolute best hiking shorts for women. Built like chinos with 5-inch or 7-inch inseam, these zip-up shorts are made with a rugged nylon and spandex blend with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish that’s tough enough for any trail with enough stretch to accommodation a wide range of motion. Plus, they’re sweat-wicking and breathable, a huge plus for hot weather hikes where you’ll want to keep sweat at bay. There are also 4 spacious pockets (two in the front and two in the rear) for storing small essentials on the trails.

We struggled to find faults with these women’s hiking shorts. We love how versatile they are – tough enough for strenuous hiking but sleek enough to wear casually while running errands. If you’re looking for a pair of the best hiking shorts for women, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Patagonia Quandary Shorts.


Columbia Saturday Trail Shorts
Runner Up & Best Long Hiking Shorts for Women

  • Materials: 96% Nylon, 4% Elastane
  • Length: 5-inch, 10-inch and 12-inch lengths available
  • What We Like: A rugged and tough design combined with three different length options creates a very versatile pair of women’s hiking shorts at a great value

Columbia makes some of our favorite outdoor gear out there, and their Saturday Trail Shorts are an excellent option for summer hiking. This is one of the only designs of hiking shorts available in three different inseam lengths – 5, 10, and 12 inches – so it accommodates a wide variety of body types and style preferences. With a similar construction to the Patagonia Quandary Shorts, we think these are some of the best hiking shorts for women because of their tough construction and versatile design. Plus, they’ve got 4 pockets and are made of stretchy, breathable, and sweat-wicking fabric that won’t impede your range of motion on the trails.


Willit Women’s Shorts
Best Budget Hiking Shorts for Women

  • Materials: 80% Nylon, 20% Spandex
  • Length: Short (upper thigh)
  • What We Like: Super lightweight, breathable, and stretchy, these shorts offer some of the best bang for your buck

There’s nothing like a good budget pair of hiking shorts to add to your hiking wardrobe! For the best shorts at the best price, we recommend the Willit Women’s Shorts. These shorts are loose-fitting and lightweight (think exercise shorts) and work great for hikes in hot or humid weather. Made with a 20% Spandex blend, these shorts are not only great for hiking, but can be used for general exercise, running, yoga, or for leisure.

Some of the biggest cons with these shorts is durability and the fact that there’s only one length available (very short). Because they’re so cheap, they’re considerably more flimsy and less durable than other shorts on our list. They are also only available in a short length – a 3-inch inseam – making them less suitable for women who prefer a longer cut. However, they’re a great value and are by far the most affordable hiking shorts for women on our list.


Lululemon Align Short
Best Bike Shorts

  • Materials: Nulu fabric blend (mix of Nylon and Lycra)
  • Length: 4-inch, 6-inch, and 8-inch versions available
  • What We Like: Lululemon’s bike shorts are compressive and stretchy and are made of ultra soft and durable Nulu fabric (which feels great)

Bike shorts are making a comeback in the hiking scene these days, and our pick for the best bike-style hiking shorts are the Lululemon Align Shorts. Form-fitting and soft, these legging-like hiking shorts for women are great for hikers who like the compression of leggings without the length. We like the Lululemon Align Shorts because they come in 3 different lengths and are made from Lululemon’s proprietary Nulu fabric, which is meant to feel lightweight and soft on your skin during any strenuous exercise.

While many women love bike shorts, they aren’t for everyone, and if you don’t like how bike shorts look or feel, these will probably not work for you. They’re also slightly more expensive than we’d like (although Lululemon generally has generous returns/exchanges and a great warranty program). If you’re looking for a quality pair of bike-style shorts, these are definitely our go-to.


PrAna Olivia Shorts

  • Materials: 97% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • Length: 5-inch and 7-inch options
  • What We Like: The Olivia Shorts offer the same level of durability and toughness we expect from PrAna in two different inseam lengths

One of our favorite brands for hiking and climbing gear is PrAna, and the PrAna Olivia Shorts are some of the best hiking shorts for women we’ve used. Built with a nylon and spandex blend, these shorts are soft but very durable – we’ve adventured for years in our PrAna Olivia shorts and they’ve still got many more miles of summer hiking left in them. They’ve got four pockets – two side pockets and two in the rear – and we’ve used them to store all kinds of hiking essentials.

For us, the biggest downside of the PrAna shorts is the fit around the leg area. While many of the other Chino-style women’s hiking shorts we’ve tested fit loosely around the thighs, we’ve noticed that the PrAna shorts fit a little tighter around the hem. For many women, this may not be a huge deal, but we prefer the wider leg of the Patagonia Quandary or the Columbia Saturday Trail shorts.


Kuhl Splash Shorts

  • Materials: 68% Cotton, 29% Nylon, 3% Spandex
  • Length: 5.5-inch and 11-inch lengths available
  • What We Like: Kuhl’s Splash Shorts have SO MANY POCKETS! If you want storage galore in your shorts, these are, hands down, the best hiking shorts for women

There’s a common complaint in the world of women’s outdoor gear that clothing doesn’t come with enough (functional) pockets. Kuhl’s Splash Shorts blow that stereotype right out of the water with their six whole pockets. Unlike any of the other products on our list, these shorts have the standard side and back pockets, as well as two snap thigh pockets for even more storage. With 5.5-inch and 11-inch inseam options, there’s a wide range of sizing options for many different body types. For women who like storing things in their shorts, these are a must-have!

Unlike their name suggests, we would not take these in water because they’re made of nearly 70% cotton. This means they will not wick sweat or moisture as well as the other shorts we’ve included in our guide. While we generally tend to stay away from cotton when it comes to outdoor gear, we’re willing to make the sacrifice for a pair of women’s hiking shorts that has so many other great qualities.


Eddie Bauer Women’s Guide Pro Shorts

  • Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% Spandex
  • Length: 4 inches
  • What We Like: Built for the toughest trails, these shorts feel very durable without compromising on comfort

Eddie Bauer makes fantastic, rugged outdoor gear for hikers and backpackers, and their Guide Pro Shorts for women are an excellent addition to any outdoor wardrobe. These shorts are short enough to maximize breathability, but are long enough to provide coverage when scrambling or hiking up steep trails. We love these hiking shorts for women because they’re built to last and are versatile enough to wear in your day-to-day activities, too. They also come in a wide variety of colors, so you’re likely to find something that suits your aesthetic preferences.

The biggest drawback we found in the Eddie Bauer Guide shorts is the lack of back pockets. We like having back pockets for extra storage! There are still four pockets – two side pockets and two cargo pockets – so if you don’t have a lot to carry you should still have plenty of space.


Patagonia Baggies

  • Materials: 100% Nylon, DWR
  • Length: 5-inches, with a 2.5-inch version
  • What We Like: These ultra lightweight, breathable women’s hiking shorts are great for minimalist hikers or extra hot environments

If you live in a very hot place or simply prefer to purchase gear that’s ultra lightweight, the Patagonia Baggies are some of the most popular lightweight hiking shorts for women. Made of 100% nylon with a variety of fun colors and patterns, these shorts are especially great for the beach or hikes where you plan to swim because they dry quickly compared to others on our list. Many customers love these shorts and buy multiple pairs because they’re so comfortable and versatile!


The North Face Aphrodite Motion Short

  • Materials: 95% Nylon, 5% Elastane
  • Length: Short, but also comes in Bermuda length
  • What We Like: These shorts have the toughness of normal hiking shorts with the design of lightweight athletic shorts – what more could a hiker ask for?

The North Face Aphrodite Motion Short is a great catch-all pair of hiking shorts for people who do a lot of different outdoor activities. Featuring a durable nylon and elastane build, these shorts have the ruggedness of hiking shorts with enough stretch to get through tricky scrambles or climbs. Unlike many of the more hiking-specific shorts on our list, the Aphrodite Motion Short has a design that’s more similar to the Patagonia Baggies or the Willit Women’s Shorts above.

Customers love these for their versatility and breathability in hot weather, and many mention that these are their favorite pair of shorts. With three pockets, you have enough space to store a few small hiking essentials. You can even pack these shorts down into the back pocket for longer backpacking excursions or travel!


REI Co-op Women’s Active Pursuits Shorts

  • Materials: 86% Polyester, 14% Spandex
  • Length: 4.5 inches
  • What We Like: These athletic-style shorts pack a great value into a very lightweight package

Made for running, working out, climbing, and hiking, the REI Women’s Active Pursuits Shorts are a fantastic addition to any outdoorsy wardrobe. Made with 14% spandex, these stretchy, light shorts are great in extra hot or humid weather. We especially like them for easy to moderate hikes and for trail running because they’re so breezy and light. Note that these shorts only have one tiny waist pocket (like running shorts), so hikers who like to have pockets for storage may want to consider other options on our list.


Helly Hansen Maridalen Shorts

  • Materials: 94% Nylon, 6% Elastane
  • Length: Short (upper thigh)
  • What We Like: So many pockets…plus a technical, hiking-focused design that’s great for tougher trails or backpacking

Helly Hansen has made a name for itself over the years for its high-end ski jackets and gear, but they also have fantastic hiking gear for warmer weather activities. The Maridalen Shorts are some of the most practically-designed hiking shorts for women, and we love them because they look and feel great and have lots of pockets for storage. Women love them for hiking because they’re comfortable but also durable enough to withstand some pretty tough trail conditions. They are a little on the pricier side, but we anticipate the Maridalen shorts will last a very long time (and they come with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, too).


Athleta Trekkie North

  • Materials: Nylon/Spandex
  • Length: 3.5-inch inseam
  • What We Like: A streamlined, sleek design makes these some of the most stylish shorts on our list – perfect for hitting the trail and heading to brunch after

Athleta makes great women’s workout gear, and their hiking shorts are no exception. We love the Athleta Trekkie North shorts because they look like normal, casual shorts, and can be worn on strenuous hikes as well as to the grocery store. Four pockets provide adequate storage for small essentials on the trail, and the sleek design looks very minimalist and stylish. Made from a nylon and spandex fabric blend, these shorts are stretchy and sweat wicking, perfect for those scorching hot days, and they come in sized from 0 to 26, which accommodates most women’s body types.


Additional Resources

Looking for some practical and fun surfing gifts for your wave-riding loved ones? We’ve got your back! We know it can be hard to choose the best gifts for surfers, especially if you don’t surf. There are so many gadgets and pieces of equipment in the surfing world that it can be hard to decide on a thoughtful and clever present. To help you pick out the best surprise for any surfer in your life, we’ve compiled this list of some of the best surfing gifts out there.

A female surfer looks off into the distance holding a green longboard and thinking about all of the best gifts for surfers.

Our Picks: Overall Best Gifts For Surfers

Slowtide Beach Towel

A lightweight, absorbent beach towel is one of the best gifts for surfers because no one likes to be sandy and wet in the car! One of our favorite brands for fun, packable beach towels is Slowtide. They’ve got tons of fun patterns across three different designs – beach towels, Turkish towels, and quick dry towels – which are perfect for surfers on the go. We personally love the Black Hills beach towel, but there are tons of different options to choose from.

Surfboard Sock

Surfboards aren’t cheap, and the best way to protect your surfing investment is by purchasing a cover for it! Many surfers like surfboard socks because they help to absorb moisture that’s left over on the board after being in the ocean. A surfboard sock can also help you protect the inside of your car and home from wax, sand, and other buildup your surfboard can track in. These surfboard socks come in a variety of fun colors and sizes, perfect for whatever type of surfboard your loved one uses.

Dakine Surfboard Bag

If your loved one plans to do a bit of traveling with their surfboard, a heavy-duty surfboard bag may be a more practical gift for them than a board sock. Dakine is a popular brand for board sports, and they have one of the largest selections of surfboard bags on the market. These durable bags are typically weather-resistant and protective, which will minimize the chance of damage if you’re strapping your board to a roof rack or traveling with it.

If you do decide purchase a surfboard bag, make sure the size and shape match the type of board!

Beach Changing Poncho

Any surfer knows how inconvenient it can be to change clothes in a vehicle, or to try and hunt down a public restroom for changing. With a beach changing poncho, they don’t have to! Changing clothes on the beach in privacy is easy and simple with one of these oversized garments, which provides protection and coverage while you’re getting out of your wetsuit into dry clothes (or vice versa).

Changing Mat

Many surfers opt for a changing mat they can stand on to reduce their wetsuit’s contact with the ground. This prevents sand buildup in the wetsuit and provides a quick and easy method – a waterproof drawstring bag – to store your wetsuit in the car until you can get home to rinse and dry it. You no longer need to worry about the inside of your car getting damp – just put all your wet clothes into this changing mat and pull the drawstrings for instant storage!

Portable Shower

Many surfers use their car as a home base for changing, hanging out, and snacking, but did you know that you can also use your car to wash yourself off? With a portable solar shower, you can carry an outdoor shower with you wherever you go so you can get rinsed off after a long day in the ocean. If you’re looking for one of the most practical gifts for surfers, a portable shower is a fantastic option.

Car Key Lockbox

Most of the time, it simply doesn’t make sense to bring your car keys with you when you surf. They can easily get stolen off the shore or lost. A car lockbox with a combination is an easy way to store and protect your keys while you’re riding the waves. Many surfers simply use a home lockbox and place it in an inconspicuous part of their vehicle, storing keys with a custom combination. It’s one of the most simple yet useful gifts for surfers who want to worry less about the safety of their belongings while in the water.

Surfboard Traction Pad

A surfboard traction pad is one of the most common add-ons to a surfboard, increasing the “stickiness” and traction of the board to reduce the risk of slipping while standing up. As one of the more common surfing gifts, a traction pad can help surfers of any level improve their skills and catch more waves. This is a great gift for surfers, but make sure you choose the right size for the surfboard your loved one has!

Rack Pads

When transporting a surfboard, people commonly use a roof rack with straps. However, these can often damage the board or leave scratches. A simple set of rack pads can help protect your loved one’s board from metal roof racks and increase the longevity of the board. When paired with a surfboard sock or a surfboard bag, any board would be perfectly well-protected while in transit.

Surfboard Repair Kit

Surfers who travel or spend long days on the beach may find a surfboard repair kit super handy. These kits come with repair resin that can fix large scratches, gashes, or cracks in your board and dries in the sun. Of course, this is not a cure-all for any damage to a board, but it’s great as an easy fix for any surfer on the go.

Fin Wallet

If your loved one is the type of surfer who has a backup set of fins they bring along, a fin wallet can be a fantastic and affordable gift. This transparent fin storage system is a great way to store extra fins and comes with a smaller pocket for tools, keys, and other essentials. Surfers can just toss this in their car or backpack and have it whenever they need it!

FCS Ratchet

A surfboard’s fins can easily get misaligned or come loose when surfing in rougher waters, and an FCS Ratchet can come in handy when this happens. This useful tool enables surfers to adjust, remove, or replace their fins on the go, and is small enough to store in your car or backpack. It is definitely one of the more practical surfing gifts out there!

Best Budget Gifts for Surfers (Under $25)

Sticky Bumps Wax

Avid surfers go through wax quickly, and it’s one of the most useful gifts for surfers on a budget. Perfect as a stocking stuffer or a small gift, any surfer would be happy to get a couple of cases of Sticky Bumps wax to keep their board grippy and surf-ready. Note that there are many different kinds of sticky bumps wax – we’d recommend getting at least one base coat bar and temperature specific bars (for cold, cool, or warm water).

Surf Leash

A surf leash is a heavy-duty cord attached to a surfer’s foot by velcro to ensure a surfer doesn’t get separated from their board. While these can range in price, they don’t have to be expensive! You can get a quality surf leash for under $20, and it’s one of the most practical gifts for surfers to keep them safe in the water.

Pickle Wax Remover

A wax remover is a great way to keep your surfboard clean and free of sticky wax when you transport it, and the Pickle Wax Remover is a commonly used kit that does exactly that! Most wax removal kits come with a comb scraper and the “pickle” wax remover, which helps remove finer wax pieces once they’ve been scraped with the comb.

Wetsuit Shampoo

A wetsuit is one of the biggest investments every surfer has to make, and it’s important for surfers to be able to protect and preserve their wetsuits for years to come. Wetsuit shampoo is one of the best budget gifts for surfers because it’s an inexpensive tool to keep your loved one’s wetsuit clean after a day of catching waves. We like this wetsuit shampoo because it’s cheap and easy to transport – your favorite surfer can simply throw it in their backpack and wash their wetsuit right after use!

Wetsuit Hanger

The second part of wetsuit care after washing it is ensuring it can dry without trapping moisture or salt. A wetsuit hanger is a fantastic way to ensure your wetsuit is fully extended while drying. Moreover, your favorite surfer can use the wetsuit hanger to store wetsuits during the offseason and ensure they won’t get misshapen.

Wetsuit Repair Kit

When surfing in rocky areas, wetsuit damage is sometimes inevitable. A wetsuit repair kit is something every surfer should have handy in the event that they snag a rock or a sharp edge and tear a hole in their wetsuit. This handy kit comes with a neoprene patch as well as a stitching kit so your favorite surfer can fix their wetsuit on the go. While it’s one of the smaller, simpler gifts for surfers, having one can go a long way during a day of surfing or a longer trip!

Wetsuit Repair Glue

Another great option for fixing a tear in a wetsuit is wetsuit repair glue. This is a flexible solution that dries onto wetsuit fabric, filling any holes caused by normal wear and tear or snags in rocky areas. The only downside here is that the glue needs to dry, meaning that surfers can’t use the wetsuit immediately after it has been applied.

Surf Claw Board Carrier

A Surf Claw surfboard carrier makes it easier and less cumbersome to carry a surfboard of any size when transporting it from a car. While some surfboards are small enough to hold with your arm, many longboards are not. A Surf Claw attaches to the edge of the board, essentially extending your arm span and enabling you to carry the board with just one hand. It’s one of the most handy surfing gifts that comes in a bunch of fun colors for any surfer!

Sun Bum Reef-Safe Sunscreen

Obviously, most surfers use sunscreen when they’re in the water. However, we recommend Sun Bum sunscreen for surfers because it’s reef safe and doesn’t use chemicals that can harm marine wildlife. This is especially important when doing water sports like surfing, SUP, and sea kayaking because it protects any marine life that may be sensitive to sunscreen chemicals.

Portable Clothesline

You know what happens if wet clothes/swim gear doesn’t dry properly? It starts to STINK. Luckily, a packable clothesline is one of the simplest and most useful gifts for surfers to help them dry their clothes on the go – on the beach, in the car, or at home! We like this portable clothesline because it’s got built-in clips to secure your clothing and is made of elastic to expand as needed.

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan

We love giving and receiving books as presents, so no guide to gifts for surfers would be complete without one! One of the quintessential surfing memoirs, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan is an adventure of a read that spans many of the US shorelines and lots of friendships forged over a love of the sport. Any surfer (or non-surfer) will enjoy the captivating storytelling in this fun, intrepid read.

Best Clothes & Wearables for Surfers

SeaSpecs Surf Sunglasses

There’s nothing worse than catching a great wave and getting caught off balance because you were blinded by the sun. SeaSpecs Surf Sunglasses can help your favorite surfer avoid this situation! These polarized sunglasses are held on with a stretchy adjustable strap like swimming goggles, perfect for any water sports, including surfing.

Neoprene Surf Booties

For colder and rockier surf conditions, a pair of surf booties is essential. These booties are typically made of neoprene and come in different sizes and configurations, but our favorites are the split-toe designs like these because they are much sturdier and stay on your feet in rougher conditions.

Neoprene Surf Hood

Like booties, a surf hood can help keep surfers’ heads warm in cold water temperatures. These are also usually make of neoprene and come in a few different styles. This is a great gift for year-round surfers or those who typically surf in colder areas, like the Pacific Northwest or New England.

Neoprene Surf Gloves

The last thermal accessory for any surfer is a pair of surf gloves, which are great for protecting hands from cold water temperatures or sharp, rocky terrain. It’s one of the best gifts for surfers who typically ride in cold conditions or in areas with sharp rocks.

Wetsuit

A wetsuit is a critical piece of gear for any surfer, especially those who surf in colder waters. Wetsuits come in different styles and thickness, and have their own unique sizing that can depend a lot on the manufacturer.

This is one of the surfing gifts we’d recommend going into a shop for because it can be tricky to get the sizing right. However, once you know your favorite surfer’s size and thickness requirements, you can find a ton of them online! Our favorite place to shop for wetsuits is Wetsuit Wearhouse – they’ve got a huge selection and often have sales or discounts.

Active Sandals

A solid pair of sandals is a helpful surfing gift for getting to and from your car. Many surfers opt for flip flops, but we prefer hiking sandals with ankle straps for all of our outdoor activities. We love Tevas and Chacos for any warm weather trails, and we wear ours to the beach all the time.

Surf Ears Earplugs

Created to keep water out of your ears while still letting sound in, Surf Ears earplugs are a great gift for surfers. Many surfers struggle with getting water in their ears, especially in the beginning when they’re falling often into strong currents. Surf Ears are connected with a cord and a carabiner and are designed to enable surfers to hear things around them while keeping water out.

Surfboard Pack

For surfers on the go, there are few cooler and more fun gifts than the Koraloc surf backpack – a backpack that has extra straps around the outside to hold your surfboard! Surfboards can be big and cumbersome to carry, so having a backpack that holds your stuff and carries your board for you is a huge plus. Note that this is best for surfers who use a shortboard – a longboard could likely be too long to carry on your back!

Other Fun Gifts for Surfers

Homesick Beach Cottage Candle

Candles make great gifts for surfers who live far away from the beach, and the Homesick Beach Cottage candle is one of our very favorites. With notes of sea air, amber, and driftwood, this candle smells like a cozy evening walking along the coastline. We love Homesick candles because they evoke nostalgia for our favorite places, and as surfing gifts they are a memorable and thoughtful present.

NIXON Tide Watch

The NIXON Tide Watch is a stylish, water-resistant watch that enables surfers to see what the tide is like wherever they are. While we wouldn’t recommend wearing this while surfing (the currents and rocks are too unpredictable for any watch, in our opinion), it’s a great tool to wear around and watch the tides for the best surfing conditions, anywhere.

GoPro HERO9 Black

GoPro HERO9 Black is an excellent gift for the avid surfer who wants to document their adventures. Portable, waterproof, and high-quality, a GoPro will help your favorite surfer lover capture and relive their favorite moments on the water again and again.

Pro tip: if you decide to get a GoPro as a surfing gift, don’t forget a surfboard mount so they can use it hands-free!

Additional Resources

While it’s best known for its theme parks and entertainment options, Orlando has some wonderful green spaces and nature areas to explore. Although these spots often get overshadowed by everything else going on in Orlando, there are some stunning preserves, state parks, and conservation areas that boast some of the prettiest scenery in the region. We created this guide to the best spots for hiking in Orlando to help you plan your next outdoor adventure!

You won’t find a ton of elevation gain on most hiking trails near Orlando (it is Florida, after all), but you will find a variety of terrain, lovely water views, and cool spots for wildlife and plant viewing. There’s no better way to get some fresh air and explore the Orlando area than by tackling one of these beautiful hiking trails.

Photo Credit: Joe Flood (Flickr CC)

Best Hikes in Orlando for All Levels

The Seminole-Wekiva Trail

  • Trail Length: 13.6 miles total (but can be shortened!)
  • Location: Altamonte Springs

The Seminole-Wekiva Trail is one of the quintessential places for hiking near Orlando. For an urban hike, it offers basically everything you could ever want in a trail: wildlife viewing opportunities, lots of trees and tropical plants, both paved and unpaved sections, and a variety of sun and shade. It’s also quite long – 13.6 miles end to end – although you can always choose how long or short you want to make your hike! On weekends, you’ll find runners, hikers, and bikers out on the Seminole-Wekiva trail, and if you go early in the morning, you may run into some local wildlife as well.

Photo Credit: Joe Flood (Flickr CC)

Mead Botanical Gardens

Perfect for kids, couples, and solo hikers alike, the trails at Mead Botanical Gardens extend across several miles through some of the most lush ecosystems in the area. Wooden boardwalks and shady trails take you through the botanical garden grounds, where small waterways wind through some warped trees and other swampy plants. There are several trails all over the park grounds, so you can choose your own adventure depending on how long you want to hike and what you’d like to see.

Photo Credit: Rain0975 (Flickr CC)

Wekiwa Springs Hiking Trail

  • Trail Length: 6.3 miles
  • Location: Wekiwa Springs State Park

Popular for swimming and paddling, Wekiwa Springs State Park is home to some fabulous waterways and shaded trails for hiking near Orlando. There are lots of local bird species that call Wekiwa Springs home, and if you get lucky, you may even see a deer or a snake. We love the picturesque wooden boardwalks that wind through lush areas of tropical plants and trees, and this is one of the quieter trails in the area, especially early in the morning when there’s still fog in between the trees.

Photo Credit: P. M. Reddy via Florida Wildflower Foundation (Flickr CC)

Disney Wilderness Preserve

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Location: Disney Wilderness Preserve

Disney isn’t just a conglomeration of theme parks and entertainment districts; they’ve also got an entire wilderness preserve that’s perfect for a day of hiking in Orlando! There are three trails at the Disney Wilderness Preserve – the red trail, the yellow trail, and the nature trail. Here, you can see lots of local wildlife, including birds and snakes.

Home to several native plant species, you’ll find towering trees and warped roots all over, giving the preserve a somewhat spooky look that’s perfect for photos. We’d recommend avoiding this trail after heavy rain or wet weather, as many sections can become very muddy or washed out.

Orlando Wetlands Park

For a peaceful, easy trail for hiking in Orlando, head to the Orlando Wetlands Park. Home to many species of local reptiles, birds, and mammals, you can experience some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities in the greater Orlando area thanks to the proximity of the wetland ecosystems. Sightings of gators, raccoons, deer, snakes, and local marine birds are common here, and the easy trails offer fun and adventure for any levels of hikers.

Photo Credit: B A Bowen Photography (Flickr CC)

Kolokee Loop

  • Trail Length: 5 miles
  • Location: Little Big Econ State Forest

Little Big Econ State Forest is one of the most popular areas for hiking in Orlando, and the Kolokee Loop is one of two trails in the area that made our list of the top hikes in Orlando. The Kolokee Loop is a longer trail than most of the easy trails on our list, but it’s still suitable for beginners and families who want a bit of a longer adventure outside. Along this trail, you’ll pass by the Econlockhatchee (Econ) River and through the surrounding forests. You’ll also have a unique opportunity to see alligators in the wild along the river, which are one of the most coveted local species visitors want to see in the area.

Little Big River, Digbat, Ditch of Doom and Flagler Trail

  • Trail Length: 9.4 miles
  • Location: Little Big Econ State Forest

This trail is a favorite of more experienced hikers in the Orlando area. While there’s not a ton of elevation gain on this trail, the terrain changes, length, and variety of landscapes create a fun environment for more experienced hikers to enjoy. Like the Kolokee Loop, this trail runs by the Econ River and offers opportunities to see alligators lounging on its banks. Watch out – this trail is popular with mountain bikers as well, so you should probably watch out for them whizzing by you on some of the narrower stretches.

Photo Credit: Rain0975 (Flickr CC)

Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail

  • Trail Length: 7.3 miles
  • Location: Black Bear Wilderness Area

A local favorite for hiking in Orlando, the Black Bear Wilderness Loop Trail is a wild, special place for enjoying nature and viewing some of the most incredible wildlife in the area. This trail is one that’s often host to repeat visitor because no two hikes are alike – the wildlife and plant life in the area is constantly changing. Visitors report seeing wild boar, raccoons, deer, alligators, snakes, owls, lizards, and more on the 7.3 miles of trail this area offers.

Because of its location in a protected wilderness area, this trail is extra quiet and tranquil, perfect for an escape from the city.

Photo Credit: Andrew T. Sullivan (Flickr CC)

Split Oak Forest Green Trail

  • Trail Length: 3.4 miles
  • Location: Split Oak Forest Wildlife And Environmental Area

Looking for a stunningly beautiful and easy hike that’s suitable for the whole family? Tackle the sandy trails of Split Oak Forest Green Trail, where you’ll wander through towering oak trees and shaded forests, and have the opportunity to see the namesake Split Oak tree – a tree with two sides that share a root base. In true Florida fashion, many of the trees in this area are covered in Spanish moss and have an eerie look to them as you meander through this flat trail.

Three Lakes Loop

  • Trail Length: 5.3 miles
  • Location: Split Oak Forest Wildlife And Environmental Area

Another great trail for hiking in Orlando is the Three Lakes Loop at Split Oak Forest. Much like its name suggests, this 5.3-mile trail takes you to three lakes in the park, each with its own distinctive charm. This trail is a little longer than the more heavily trafficked Split Oak Green Trail, and you may find that you have many sections of it all to yourself! If you’re looking for a longer Orlando trail that’s still accessible to most hikers, the Three Lakes Loop is a great choice.

Photo Credit: Rain0975 (Flickr CC)

Lake Jesup Observation Platform

  • Trail Length: 2 miles
  • Location: Lake Jesup Park

For those looking for a low key, easy trail that’s perfect at sunset, look no further than the Lake Jesup Observation Platform Trail. This mostly flat, dirt trail winds through wooded areas and along the waterfront for a varied hike that’s suitable for beginners, kids, and hikers of any level. You’ll often find people trail running and walking dogs here as well. Along the way, you’ll find a wooden observation tower you can climb for a more panoramic view of the park area.

Shingle Creek

  • Trail Length: Varies
  • Location: Kissimmee, FL

If you’re looking for a relaxed, suburban hiking area that’s great for all levels of hikers, Shingle Creek is a popular option. This is less of a single trail and more of a network of trails that run along the namesake creek and the surrounding forests and marshlands. Along the trail, you’ll find lots of pretty scenery and the opportunity to see local wildlife, including alligators and wetland birds. Family-friendly and dog-friendly, this is a popular local trail, so we recommend heading there early in the day if you prefer to avoid the crowds!

Additional Resources for Hiking in Orlando

What to Bring

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Links