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Take A Walk!

Experiencing nature doesn't have to be intimidating, says Travel and Leisure's Heidi Mitchell. She stops by The Early Show
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A great way to explore a new nature destination is through trekking or camping.

But if you're not interested in either, the August issue of Travel and Leisure magazine features 25 great walking trails that expose amazing landscapes without the intimidation.

Travel and Leisure's Heidi Mitchell stopped by The Early Show Friday with five of the great paths in North America and Europe that are perfect for a moderate walk.

Mitchell explained that Travel and Leisure, with the help of leading guides and outfitters, selected the top regions in North America and Europe — featuring one not-to-be missed trail for each, plus two alternatives. She says all the trails featured provide access to stunning landscapes.

According to Mitchell, hikers will not need a ton of gear for the walks. She suggests wearing a good pair of hiking boots with ankle support. Also, she says, bring hiking poles for some of the rougher terrain trails, water and layering items to keep warm.

Here are the five trails Mitchell suggested on The Early Show:

  • New England: Mount Mansfield, which is located near Stowe, Vt.

    Mount Mansfield (elevation 4,393 feet) is the highest mountain in Vermont and is the state's most frequently visited mountain, with nearly 40,000 visitors walking its upper reaches every year. It offers views of the Green Mountain range, east to New Hampshire's White Mountains and west across Lake Champlain to New York's Adirondacks. It has one of the rarest Arctic-Alpine plant communities known (remnants of the last Ice Age, these plants flourish in the harsh environment). Mitchell says it is imperative to stay on the trail to see these treasures, as many of these plants are difficult to distinguish from more common vegetation on the mountain.

    The Walk: The Long Trail runs 265 miles long, but Travel and Leisure found a 4-mile stretch near Mount Mansfield that gives you impressive views. The route goes to the roof of New England without the grueling climb other paths on the mountain require.

  • American Southwest: Utah

    For all the spacious beauty of the Southwestern desert, what draws admirers by the millions are its massive crevasses. The canyons of Utah illustrate the sculptural wizardry of water and wind, according to Travel and Leisure. Zion Canyon Narrows is one of the areas that caught the magazine's attention. It is located in Zion National Park, Utah. The "trail" there is the northern fork of the Virgin River, which leads through a 2,000-foot-deep slot canyon of fiery orange-red sandstone that constricts in places to a mere 20 feet in width. Protected within the park's 229-square-miles is a dramatic landscape of sculptured canyons and soaring cliffs. Mitchell says Zion offers probably the best, most varied hiking of all national parks.

    The Walk: The actual "trail" there is the Virgin River. The Virgin River has carved a spectacular gorge in the upper reaches of Zion Canyon. It is 16 miles long (but you don't have to do the entire 16 miles), up to 2,000 feet deep, and at times only 20 feet by 30 feet wide. At least 60 percent of this hike is spent wading, walking and sometimes swimming in the stream.

    If you want a less challenging way to see this particular site, Mitchell suggests you take a shuttle to the Temple of Sinawa and follow the Riverside Walk to the start of the canyon path and head up stream. You will see breathtaking views. Mitchell says this is a great day hike.

  • Hawaii: Kokee State Park on the island of Kauai

    Kauai is a hiker's paradise, according to Mitchell. So much of Kauai's natural beauty can only be seen on foot. The rewards are unparalleled views, tropical vegetation, streams, hidden waterfalls, secret swimming holes and exquisite isolation. Some of Kauai's most extensive network of trails is in the Kokee region along the northwest side of the island.

    The Walk: Pihea Trail and Alakai Swamp. This trail runs approximately 9 miles. It is considered "up country Kauai" at 4,000 feet in the air. It features lots of rare native plants (lehua and olapa trees) and songbirds. Mitchell says it is very idyllic. Much of the hike is on a boardwalk, which is laid down to protect the bogs and their plants. Some stretches of the trail are on a steeper terrain, so hiking poles are recommended. These trails are great if you are a bird watcher. Plant guides are also available for use. Guided hikes can be arranged and there is trained staff on hand to help with hiking advice.

    Mitchell says you can walk this easy trail with your kids.

  • The Canadian Rockies: Alberta

    This particular region is rugged with glaciated 10,000-foot summits marking the Continental Divide and broad, forested basins in between. Because the valleys create convenient access by road, rail and trail, it's easy to day hike into the high country.

    The Walk: Plain of Six Glaciers in Banff National Park. The trail is approximately 9 miles. According to Travel and Leisure, glaciers are the artists, geologically speaking, of the Canadian Rockies, carving the valleys, defining the peaks, and filling narrow chasms with blue-green water. The hike starts at 5,700 feet and will climb past rock debris left by ancient ice flows, then head into Plain of Six Glaciers — all of which are active. Victoria Glacier wraps around Mount Victoria. The walk takes you gradually up through a sub-alpine forest. Along the way, Mitchell suggests to stop at the 1920s teahouse built by Swiss mountain guides. The teahouse serves tea and sandwiches.

  • Lake District: North Country of England

    The hilly North Country — the Lake District and the Yorkshire dales and moors — is pleasantly green, according to Travel and Leisure. Its weather is mild. The area has beauty, character and great accessibility — making the area irresistible to walkers of all ages and levels. The area hosts some of the best rambles and pathways in the UK, according to Mitchell.

    The Walk: Old Coffin Route, which is located inside the Lake District National Park. The trail runs approximately 4.25 miles. The countryside around Grasmere is where William Wordsworth "wandered lonely as a cloud" and drew inspiration for a lot of his romantic poetry. The Old Coffin Route is an easy ramble from Wordsworth's house in the village of Rydal to his beloved Dove Cottage. The trail passes the Rydal Caves and you will see beautiful flower-strewn pastures.

    Mitchell says this is another walk that you can do with your kids.