Best Hikes to See the 2024 Solar Eclipse

A total solar eclipse will blanket a wide swath of the U.S. on Monday, April 8, 2024. Lasting up to four-and-a-half minutes, it will be the first total solar eclipse visible in the continental United States since 2017.

When the moon passes between the sun and the Earth for those few brief moments, completely blocking the sun, it will send chills up the spines of millions who live in or are visiting the path of totality—a swath of the U.S. that extends from Texas to Maine, where you can best see the total eclipse. If you want to join in on the viewing, you’ll want to act fast: Public campgrounds within the eclipse’s path have started filling up, and hotels are charging far more than their typical rates for the rare spectacle.

But even if you haven’t made reservations or don’t want to shell out $500 for one night in a “budget” motel, hope is not lost. Hikers can leave the crowds behind on less-busy trails; campers can find dispersed sites in U.S. national forests; and last-minute lodging and campsite cancellations occur every day (if you’re willing to track reservation sites and, when available, set up cancellation alerts or reminders). And, as of this writing, there are still plenty of privately owned Hipcamp spots available for booking on that special day.

So, if you want to witness the last total solar eclipse in the contiguous U.S. until August 2044, we’ve put together five memorable hikes in the path of totality, ordered from earliest viewing to latest. (Or find one of your own using the eclipse map from NASA.) Options range from easy river walks to scenic national park hikes, with tips for making the most of your time along each route. Just be sure to always stay on the trail, park in designated spots and pack the Ten Essentials—especially since roads will be jammed and emergency services may be slow to respond in the immediate aftermath of the eclipse.

Maple Trail and East Trail (Texas)

The Lost Maples State Park  -  Texas  Boulders
Lost Maples State Natural Area. Photo credit: G. Lamar Yancy under CC BY 2.0 DEED

Some of the biggest cities in Texas sit under the path of totality—including Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth—so if you want to escape the crowds, hike the trails at Lost Maples State Natural Area outside San Antonio.

The park, beloved for its limestone canyons and leaf-peeping colors in fall, sits less than two hours from San Antonio and three hours from Austin. Lost Maples is smack-dab in the path of totality and offers nearly a dozen miles of hiking trails through forests of maple and cypress trees, following tributaries of the Sabinal River and ascending wide-open rock faces. You can’t go wrong with whatever trek you choose, but consider stitching together a loop that includes the East Trail and East-West Trail; these paths pass bigtooth maples and offer a short detour to the appropriately named Scenic Overlook—where clear views of the total solar eclipse await.

Only 250 cars can park at Lost Maples, so guarantee your parking and entry with a day pass, available up to one month in advance on the Texas State Parks reservation website. Passes cost $6 per person, 13 and older. The park also hosts campsites, but those are full as of this writing; it can’t hurt, however, to set an automated alert—available on the park reservation site—in case of cancellations.


Peak Trail (Arkansas)

Walkabout, Hot Springs, AR
Hot Springs National Park. Photo credit: Daniel X. O’Neil under CC BY 2.0 DEED

The Peak Trail at Arkansas’ Hot Springs National Park won’t make hikers work hard for eclipse views. The 1.3-mile round-trip trail gains about 400 feet before ending atop Hot Springs Mountain and at the base of Hot Springs Mountain Tower. But what it lacks in thigh-busting climbs, the trail makes up for with panoramic views that should showcase the eclipse in all its glory. Hot Springs National Park, after all, is one of two national parks in the path of totality. (If you start the hike early enough, you might even get to ascend the 216-foot Hot Springs Mountain Tower, where views can extend for nearly 150 miles, weather permitting.)

If the path gets busy, or if you’re looking for other options within the park, consider the various West Mountain Trails—where west-facing viewpoints await. Downtown Hot Springs (the city surrounding the park with which it shares a name) will likely fill quickly on eclipse day, making the park’s hiking trails an easy way to find a dose of solitude. 

Wherever you hike, note that parking may be at a premium on April 8, 2024—especially with the eclipse beginning around midday (1:49pm CT)—so get started early to avoid the biggest crowds. Visit Hot Springs National Park’s solar eclipse webpage for updated safety tips, events, helpful resources and more.

Glidewell Trail (Indiana)

Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus)
Pine warbler in Whitewater Memorial State Park. Photo credit: Andrew Cannizzaro under CC BY 2.0 DEED

Brookville Lake, part of the broader Brookville Lake–Whitewater Memorial State Park Complex in eastern Indiana, is most famous for its prodigious boating and fishing opportunities, but it also hosts more than 400 campsites and offers more than 25 miles of hiking trails, making it an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy the eclipse. (Combined with the nearby Wolf Creek Trail, the mileage total tops 40.) Best of all: As of January, the Brookville Lake campground still had availability for the eclipse.

While you have plenty of options, we suggest a trek on the Glidewell Trail, which hugs the edge of a peninsula jutting out into Brookville Lake. Two loops are available: a 2-miler and a 4-miler. We suggest the longer loop, which is largely forested but nevertheless offers plenty of lake views. (The loop also passes a burial mound built by early Native Americans, dating to 10 B.C.) At the trail’s southernmost point, hikers enjoy wide-open west- and south-facing views that should showcase the eclipse. The trail features roughly 320 feet of elevation gain, with a mix of short (but steep) ascents and more gradual descents.

According to park officials, visitors will be admitted as long as there’s parking capacity. The closest parking lot to the Glidwell Trail has approximately 600 spots, and all the trails are open from dawn to dusk, so you may want to arrive early to ensure your place.

The Ledges Trail (Ohio)

Ledges Trail. Photo credit: Kevin Chang under CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED

The 1.8-mile Ledges Trail sits near the southeast corner of Cuyahoga Valley National Park—one of the two national parks in the path of totality. The rocky path gains about 80 feet while passing massive blocks of sandstone, sometimes cutting through the towering rock formations altogether. One of the forested trail’s many highlights is the Ledges Overlook, a west-facing viewpoint typically popular for watching sunsets, that will offer unencumbered views of the eclipse to the southwest.

Even beyond the overlook, the Ledges Trail is particularly well-suited to eclipse hiking. Pamela Barnes, community engagement supervisor and public information officer with Cuyahoga Valley National Park, says a large field at the trailhead provides easy eclipse views if the trail feels crowded—but notes that the path is part of a larger hiking-trail network in case you’d like to find a bit more solitude. Trailhead amenities include drinking water, restrooms and picnic shelters in case you decide to hunker down for a few hours afterward and wait for the traffic to pass.

Visit the Cuyahoga Valley National Park solar eclipse website for special events, safety tips and more. And be sure to check the forecast before packing for your trip; Barnes cautions that springtime temperatures in the park can fall anywhere between freezing and 80°F.

Meduxnekeag River Trail (Maine)

Unlike some of the other stops on this list, Houlton Riverfront Park and the adjoining Meduxnekeag River Trail aren’t exactly far-off hikes in the middle of nowhere. But what it lacks in remote solitude, the Meduxnekeag River Trail makes up for with plenty of space to stretch your legs, find a quiet spot and take in the eclipse. Not just that, but Houlton sits in the middle of the path of totality and is one of the last places in the United States to see the eclipse before it crosses into Canada (at 4:35pm ADT).

The trail begins in Houlton Riverfront Park, which sits along the Meduxnekeag River in the heart of its namesake community (pop: 5,800). Take a selfie with the wind spinners or bronze eagle statue that greets you at the park’s raingarden; from there, the gravel-and-dirt trail mostly hugs the river while heading northeast. The 4.6-mile path network features marginal elevation gains while passing farmland, heading into thick forests and offering clear views of the river. Occasional fields offer sweeping eclipse views away from the crowds. Just note that high temperatures in Houlton rarely top 50°F in April; prepare for possible snow or mud and bundle up before hitting the trail. There is limited parking at the trailhead in Riverfront Park, but there’s a larger lot at the trail entrance near the John A. Millar Civic Center. A third entrance is via a canoe put-in off Highland Avenue. Visit the Maine Eclipse website to Learn more about viewing the eclipse in Houlton and throughout Maine.

Required Equipment: Eclipse Glasses

One last thing: You’ll need a special eyepiece to view the eclipse safely—and remember to never look directly at the sun, even when it’s partially or fully blocked. Here are three special-edition products available at the co-op from Nocs Provisions to help you witness this special solar event.

Solar Eclipse Shades Designed for superior protection and sized to fit a wide variety of faces, these shades feature 100% UV protection with scratch-resistant polymer lenses—and they won’t make you look like a doofus. $14.95

Solar Eclipse Viewing Kit – Package of Four Grab three friends and hand out these 100% UV-blocking, weather-resistant, scratch-resistant cardboard eclipse glasses on the trail to catch the total eclipse. $12.95

Solar Eclipse Monocular Lens Attachment This accessory turns your Zoom Tube 8 x 32 Monocular Telescope (sold separately) from Nocs Provisions into a sun-spotting super viewer. The attachment is made of sturdy, lightweight aluminum and easily threads onto your monocular. $34.95

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