Lace up your boots and spread on the sunscreen!
The IFP will elevate your pulse and take your breath away as you walk in the woods, descend desert canyons, summit volcanoes, crawl through caves, jump in the waves, trot with mountain goats, and feel your way alongside fossils hundreds of millions of years old.
The UGA IFP has been leading trips out west for over 25 years, and we know where the best hikes are! We have carefully chosen the day hikes that are optimal for you to experience the best each region has to offer. The national parks and other recreational areas we visit are our classroom, so we make sure there is always something new and amazing to see and learn on each excursion.
Some of our hikes are short easy strolls, while some are long, strenuous mountain climbs. During the summer, we build your endurance and ability for the more difficult hikes. If you are concerned you might not be in good enough physical shape, don’t worry – we will get you there. The IFP staff are trained in first aid (some of us are certified Wilderness First Responders) and will be on hand during every hike to ensure your safety and comfort.
The longest hike we usually do is 15 miles roundtrip, through Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude in the Tetons of Wyoming. But the toughest hike we do is climbing Mount St. Helens in Washington. St. Helens is the most active volcano in the Cascade Range (it famously exploded in 1980 and last erupted in 2008), and hiking the mountain is by permit only. The hike is 10 miles roundtrip and requires 2 miles of scrambling over boulders (non-technical) followed by a final half mile slog through volcanic cinder to get to the crater rim.
Just as with camping gear, you may need to acquire some new hiking equipment before the IFP. Proper footwear, head covering, and sufficient water bottles will be crucial to your safety and enjoyment of these hikes. Consult our list of required and recommended gear to give you an idea of what you’ll need. And, remember we’re always here to answer questions.
- Permian Reef Trail, Guadalupe Mountains National Park: 8.4 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain/loss
- Natural Entrance and Big Room Trails, Carlsbad Cavern: 2.5 miles, 860 feet elevation loss
- Point Lookout Trail, Mesa Verde National Park: 2.2 miles, 500 feet elevation gain/loss
- Pueblo Alto Trail, Chaco Culture National Historical Park: 5.1 miles loop, 270 feet gain/loss
- Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park: 6-9 miles, 2-3000 feet elevation loss/gain (depending on how far you go)
- Cottonwood Narrows, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: 3 miles, level terrain
- Angels Landing, Zion National Park: 5.4 miles, 1500 feet elevation gain/loss
- Virgin River Narrows, Zion National Park: 5-7 miles (depending on how far upriver you go)
- Mist Trail to Nevada Fall, Yosemite National Park, 5.4 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain/loss
- Cleetwood Cove Trail, Crater Lake National Park: 2.2 miles, 700 feet elevation loss/gain (complete the hike with a jump into the lake – if you’re brave enough!)
- Monitor Ridge Climbing Route, Mount St. Helens Volcanic Monument: 10 miles, 4500 feet elevation gain/loss
- Highline-Loop Trail, Glacier National Park: 11.8 miles, 1950 feet elevation gain/loss
- Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude, Grand Teton National Park: 15 miles, 2,250 feet elevation gain/loss