Angel Island, California
Called "The Jewel of San Francisco Bay," Angel Island has a lot to live up to―and it delivers. A two-mile hike to the top of Mount Livermore may sound daunting, but the 788-foot summit offers an unforgettable view. When the weather's clear, the peak can offer a "five bridge day," providing hikers views of the Golden Gate, Bay, Richmond/San Rafael, San Mateo, and Dumbarton bridges. Allow 2.5 hours for the round-trip hike to the mountain on this single-track switchback trail. For more information, visit angelisland.com/angel_island_facts/index.php.
Cumberland Island National Seashore, St. Mary's, Georgia
Hikers go wild for Cumberland Island. Visitors may encounter wild turkey, horses, deer, and otters on the island's 50 miles of hiking trials. Enjoy coastal scenery on the South End trail, or travel north on the dirt Grand Avenue to the site of the First African Baptist Church. Trails vary in length, with little elevation gain. For more information, visit nps.gov/cuis.
Levera National Park, Grenada
Grenada's most scenic coastal area happens to be a park, locals say. The northeast coast of the Caribbean "Spice Island" features a coral reef and mangrove swamps. One trail through 450-acre Levera National Park circles a saltwater lagoon that supports herons, snipe, and other waterfowl. But don't overlook the elegant white-sand beach. Even diehard hikers will want to stop here and watch the surf. Visit the Grenada Board of Tourism at grenadagrenadines.com.
Monhegan Island, Maine
Located 10 miles off the coast of the Pine Tree State, Monhegan has neither cars nor paved roads, making it perfect for hikers. For awesome coastal views, don't miss Lobster Cove Road. Visit briegull.com/monheganwelcome/index.html.
South Manitou Island, Michigan
On the northeastern tip of Lake Michigan, uninhabited South Manitou Island provides the ideal setting for an island adventure. A 10-mile beach hike passes a shipwreck, the Valley of the Giants (white cedars), and the Manitou Passage. The island, part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, is reached by ferry, which delivers hikers each morning in the summer and returns to pick them up in the afternoon. For more information, visit nps.gov/slbe/planyourvisit/southmanitouisland.htm.
Lime Kiln Point State Park, Washington
This San Juan Island park offers one of the best places in the world to view whales from land. Located on Haro Strait, the park features trails ranging from easy to moderate, but you'll want to take the path to the whale-watch overlook. Minke whales, orcas, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and otters often cruise the shoreline here. If time permits, check out the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. It's a field station for whale research and still operates as an automated navigation aid. Visit parks.wa.gov/parkpage.asp?selectedpark=lime%20kiln%20point.