America’s best summits for mountaineering beginners

By Stef Zisovska
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America’s best summits for mountaineering beginners

Stef Zisovska
 
 
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Everyone who likes spending time in the great outdoors and actively strives to conquer any of the great summits that exist around the country understands what it feels like to stand upon the peak. Mountaineering is a challenging sport that many people choose as their hobby and practice it at every opportunity. But there are others that would like to try it but are afraid to step out of their comfort zone.

Climbing mountains is a fun, sometimes demanding, definitely sense-awakening, and active sport that will give you a new perception of life. There are different levels of difficulty in any mountain range, so here are the best summits for mountaineering beginners across the country.

Mt. Katahdin (5,269 ft.), Baxter State Park, Maine

Katahdin Cliff – Author: Hadrianopolis – CC BY-SA 3.0
Katahdin Cliff – Author: Hadrianopolis – CC BY-SA 3.0

Mount Katahdin is the highest point in the expansive Baxter State Park in Maine. The trail to the summit takes you along the popular Knife Edge Trail where in a few places the route is just a couple of feet wide with thousand foot drops on either side. If you’re planning on hiking here then you’d better be at the trailhead early in the morning because there are entrance limitations in the park.

Guadalupe Peak, (8,751 ft.), Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

Guadalupe Peak from Bowl Trail – Author: Fredlyfish4 – CC BY-SA 3.0
Guadalupe Peak from Bowl Trail – Author: Fredlyfish4 – CC BY-SA 3.0

The Lone Star State is home to the great Guadalupe Peak, a favorite among the mountaineering fraternity. Standing at the tip of Texas is an incredible feeling and a real reward after the long hike. Stunning vistas of the region is what every hiker will get upon reaching the peak almost 9,000 ft. above sea level. Guadalupe Peak can be climbed by a well-maintained rocky trail with a 3,000 ft. elevation gain all year round. When you see the shiny stainless steel pyramid at the summit, you know that you’ve conquered the peak. The trail is graded as moderate to difficult, depending on your skills and abilities.

Stony Man Mountain, (4,011 ft.), Shenandoah Valley National Park, Virginia

If you want to see the Appalachian Mountain Range, George Washington National Forest, and the Shenandoah Valley at the same time, then climb the Stony Man Mountain in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park. Stony Man Trailhead is in the Central District at mile 41.7 on Skyline Drive, and it’s graded as the easiest trail in the park with an elevation gain of 340 ft. The Passamaquoddy Loop, on the other hand, is a moderate trail with an elevation gain of 770 ft.

Longs Peak, (14,259 ft.), Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The Keyhole as seen from the Boulder Field. A small stone shelter (Agnes Vaille Memorial) approximately 10 feet (3 m) high that sits on the left side of the Keyhole gives a sense of scale – Author: Benwildeboer – CC BY-SA 3.0
The Keyhole as seen from the Boulder Field. A small stone shelter (Agnes Vaille Memorial) approximately 10 feet (3 m) high that sits on the left side of the Keyhole gives a sense of scale – Author: Benwildeboer – CC BY-SA 3.0

Longs Peak is the most difficult to climb on this list, with lots of challenges and obstacles. However, you can reach the peak through these trails: East Longs Peak Trail, Longs Peak Trail, the Keyhole Route, Clark’s Arrow, and the Shelf Trail. If planning on visiting the Longs Peak during wintertime, then you will probably need crampons and an ice ax. Challenges like truck-sized boulders are common on the way to the peak, so be prepared for some extra sweating. Among all the summits on this list, for this one you need to get up as early as possible and start climbing around 3 a.m. to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms.

The Olomana Mountain, (1,643 ft.), Kailua, Hawaii

Olomana from the Pali highway lookout – Author: Travis.Thurston – CC BY-SA 3.0
Olomana from the Pali highway lookout – Author: Travis.Thurston – CC BY-SA 3.0

Olomana is a set of three mountain peaks near Kailua. Mount Olomana is the smallest on the list of our summits, but it has the most scenic surroundings. The trail between the three peaks is bursting with lush greenery and vegetation. The stunning vistas of the Pacific Ocean are worth all the effort of climbing these three peaks. In case you get tired, you can stop at the first or the second peak and enjoy the panoramic views from there. Good luck!

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