Hiking and camping are almost always mentioned in the same breath. There are few things more refreshing than leaving your campsite in the morning and heading to the hiking trail for a brisk walk to start your day. Why sit in the car and commute to a hike when you can find campgrounds near hiking trails that you’ll love?
To create a list of must-visit campgrounds, we asked Merrell to pick their favorite campgrounds on Campspot with nearby hiking trails. Read the full list below to see where you should visit next.
But first, some quick tips on what to bring with you.
Basic Hiking Gear
The nice thing about day hiking gear is that you don’t need to break the bank to be prepared. In fact, you probably already have a lot of the necessary gear lying around in your home. You may want to consider building out a day hiking kit and filling in any gaps as necessary to make your hikes even more enjoyable.
If you’re camping with kids, you know the importance of a good backpack. You want to have water, snacks, Band-Aids, and anything else you might need right at your fingertips.
While the size of your pack will depend on how many people you’re hiking with and where you’re hiking, somewhere around 25 or 30 liters is usually the sweet spot. If you’re hiking with children, consider something closer to 40.
A reusable, light water bottle is the key here. Nalgene’s tend to be the most popular for their size, weight, and durability. You could bring a Hydro Flask, Yeti, or other insulated bottle, but they tend to add more weight than they’re worth when hiking. Plus, Nalgene’s can hold boiling water and be used to warm your sleeping bag at night. Added bonus!
As long as it’s light and calorically dense, you’re set. Trail mix, Clif bars, beef jerky. All the things that come to mind when you think of camping are good places to start.
First Aid Kit
You don’t need to go overboard here. In fact, a small kit you’re comfortable using is always better than a large one you aren’t familiar with. As long as you have the essentials like Band-Aids, Neosporin, and any medications you may need, you’re pretty much covered.
If you want to take the guesswork out, brands like Adventure Medical make premade kits that are sized based on the length of your hike and the amount of people you have with you.
Good Hiking Shoes
Trail runners are getting more popular, but good hiking boots never go out of style. If you want the extra ankle support, you can never go wrong with grippy and durable hiking boots.
Hiking shoes and trail runners are much lighter and give you some more maneuverability while still offering plenty of grip. Consider what’s important to you in a shoe and whether you’ll be bringing trekking poles on your hike. Whatever you choose, pair them with good hiking socks.
Clothing and Layers
Make sure to check the weather, but know it may not be completely accurate. National parks and forests aren’t always in line with the nearest city and their weather forecast, so pack extra layers as necessary. Packable layers and rain gear is always the way to go.
Yes, it’s fine to have the trail map on your phone. However, you always want a paper map (and a compass) as a backup. Likely you won’t be heading too far out on your day hike, but it’s always good to be prepared.
Hiking Safety Tips
Know the Route
There’s no better way to get ahead of problems than to know exactly where you’re going. AllTrails and Gaia GPS (or a comparable GPS app) are a must to scout the trail. A park ranger or area volunteer is a good source of information if posted signs don’t answer your questions.
Stay on the Trail
Not only is it bad for the local terrain when you leave the marked paths, but it can also be bad for you. Trails are laid out the way they are for a reason, and you can get lost or injured leaving the trail. It’s also just poor etiquette.
Bring a Friend
This isn’t as big of a deal for experienced hikers, but if you’re new to the outdoors, always take a friend for safety. It’s also just more fun!
Stay Fed and Hydrated
If you’re starting to feel dizzy or weak, you’re already behind. Make sure to keep yourself hydrated throughout your hike. Even if it’s just a short one, there’s no harm in bringing a snack and enough water.
Leave of Three, Let it Be
This is really just a concern in certain sections of the country, but still worth noting. If you’re in dense foliage, poison oak, ivy, and sumac may be something to watch out for. While not a perfect system for identifying plants to avoid, three-leaved plants are better left alone.
Top Campgrounds Near Hiking Trails
1. Leelanau Pines Campground – Cedar, MI
Northern Michigan is the perfect place to enjoy long summer days filled with hiking and water sports. You’ll be situated near the major cities in the upper area of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula while still preserving tranquility among the Leelanau Pines. Sites here are simple but put you in a prime location to explore the local hiking trails and waterways!
Nearest Airport: Cherry Capital Airport, Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Nearby Attractions: Clinch Park, Pyramid Point Overlook, Music House Museum
Top Trails Nearby: Good Harbor Bay Trail, Good Harbor Bay Loop
Unique Amenity: Pavilion
2. Yellowstone Hot Springs – Gardiner, MT
Where better to camp than near arguably the most famous national park in the world? You’ll be near one of Yellowstone’s biggest attractions, Mammoth Hot Springs, with plenty of pools to appreciate on-site as well. There are plenty of campgrounds near hiking trails, but very few that compare to this one.
With beautiful views of Paradise Valley and two mountain ranges, while you’re situated on the banks of the Yellowstone River, there’s truly no place like it. This campground took first place in the 2022 Campspot Awards Top Campgrounds with Views category for a reason!
Nearest Airport: Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, Yellowstone Airport
Nearby Attractions: Yellowstone National Park, Montana Whitewater Rafting & Yellowstone Zipline Tours, Bozeman Sculpture Park
Top Trails Nearby: Mammoth Terraces and Upper Ter Loop, Artist Point, Beaver Ponds Loop Trail, Red Rock Point via Red Point Trial
Unique Amenity: Pool
3. Joshua Tree RV Campground – Joshua Tree, CA
Finding lodging near Joshua Tree National Park seems to be tougher every year. Annually, more and more people learn to appreciate the beauty of the Southern California desert and its comfortable spring and fall temperatures.
If you want a no-frills experience that puts you in the heart of Joshua Tree, look no further. There will be nothing between you and the open desert sky once the sun sets. Once you wake up, you’ll be right near the trailheads for some of Joshua Tree’s most popular hikes!
Nearest Airport: Palm Springs International Airport, San Bernardino International Airport
Nearby Attractions: Joshua Tree National Park, World Famous Crochet Museum, Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum
Top Trails Nearby: Willow Hole, The Maze Loop, Boy Scout Trail
Unique Amenity: Cell service
4. Hadley’s Point Campground – Bar Harbor, ME
Looking to head to Maine for some rugged, Northeastern adventures? Hadley’s Point puts you minutes from the gates to Acadia and some of the best hiking in all of Maine.
Had a long day of exploring? This is one of the more luxurious campgrounds near hiking trails with multiple cabin options that include AC and heat along with private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and plenty of other creature comforts!
Nearest Airport: Bangor International Airport, Portland International Jetport
Nearby Attractions: Acadia National Park, Agamont Park, Egg Rock Lighthouse
Top Trails Nearby: The Beehive Loop Trails, Gorham Mountain Loop, Cadillac North Ridge Trail, Precipice Loop, Ocean Path Trail
Unique Amenity: Playground
5. Skokomish Park at Lake Cushman – Hoodsport, WA
Formerly Camp Cushman, Skokomish is the ideal place to experience Hoodsport. .If you want to appreciate all Washington has to offer on both the trails and the water, there aren’t many places in the state like this one. With quick access to the eastern part of Olympic National Park, you can explore the Pacific Northwestern hiking trails and be back in time for dinner!
Nearest Airport: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Portland International Airport
Nearby Attractions: Olympic National Park, Potlach State Park, Oakland Bay Recreational Area
Top Trails Nearby: Mount Ellinor Trail, Lower South Fork Skokomish Trail, Dry Creek Trail
Unique Amenity: Canoeing/Kayaking
If you want to get outdoors, there’s nothing more convenient than campgrounds near hiking trails. To maximize your time in the outdoors, the best thing you can do is make sure your lodging is as close to the trail as possible!
Joe Coleman is a freelance travel and outdoor writer based in East Texas. His love for the outdoors started when living near Olympic National Park and has stayed with him ever since. Taking a respite from social media, you can reach him exclusively at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit in order of appearance: Skokomish Park at Lake Cushman, Leelanau Pines Campground, Yellowstone Hot Springs, Joshua Tree RV Campground, Hadley’s Point Campground, Skokomish Park at Lake Cushman