Check out these hiking vacations:
Where: Yosemite National Park, California
Duration: 3 days
Distance: 25 miles
Cost: $405 per person; does not include lodging
Operator: Y explore Yosemite Adventures ( www.yexplore.com; 800-886-8009)
Difficulty: Moderate "We have never been able to go on vacation and sit around," says Richard Hand, 61, a retired New Yorker who chose this series of day hikes with his wife, Jane, 59, last fall. "And the older we get, the more we want to do. It wasn't until after the trip that I broke my ankle sky diving." Mornings, you meet up with your guide for a day hike of 5 to 7 miles; nights are spent at your campsite, cabin, or room at the Tuolumne Meadows Lodge. Kids ages 10 and up are usually up to the hikes, which typically blend steep, rocky terrain and some small scrambles with flat trails. But expect to be on the move for about five hours. You'll have stunning views of Echo and Cathedral peaks as well as Upper and Lower Cathedral lakes and interesting rock formations.
Where: Santa Fe and Taos
Duration: 6 days
Distance: 25 to 35 miles
Cost: $2,898 to $2,998
Operator: Backroads ( www.backroads.com; 800-462-2848)
Difficulty: Moderate This series of hikes through the desert, river valleys, and alpine forests of northern New Mexico can vary from an easy two hours of walking to more than seven hours each day. One day, for example, you can choose either the 8.3-mile Frijoles Canyon Trail, which follows the Anasazi paths through the red rocks. You'll do a walking tour of Santa Fe, explore the mesa-lined Rio Grande valley and gorge, and visit Georgia O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch. The digs are first rate, and meals are included. You'll stay two nights in Santa Fe, one in Taos, and wind up in Espanola at the luxurious Rancho de San Juan.
Where: Powell, Idaho
Duration: 3 days
Distance: 28 miles
Cost: $655, adult; $525, child
Operator: Lewis & Clark Trail Adventures ( www.trailadventures.com; 800-366-6246)
Difficulty: Moderate This wilderness trip starts at Lochsa Lodge in Idaho, 57 miles west of Missoula, Mont., and retraces the explorers' arduous journey across the Bitterroot Mountains on the Lolo Trail. But it is vehicle supported, so you do have the option of skipping the tough stuff. The first day's hike, a whopper, left even experienced hiker Ralph White, 51, puffing. "Ten minutes into the hike, I thought I had made a serious mistake and might have to turn back," he says. "When you hit an ascent like that on the first full day—with no real idea of what awaits over the course of four more days—it is easy to understand why the Expedition was, in essence, demoralized by the terrain," says the assistant general counsel at the U.S. Government Accountability Office from Washington, D.C., who made the trip in 2005, the bicentennial year. The hike climbs steadily over 8 miles to Wendover Ridge, with a 3,000-foot gain in elevation and 2 miles of switchbacks. The remaining day hikes are relatively flat along logging trails with stops that teach you some history as you go at Bear's Oil & Roots Camp, Lonesome Cove Camp, Indian Post Office, Sinque Hole Camp, Indian Grave, Smoking Place, and Greensward Camp.
Where: Near Cheltenham, England
Duration: 7 days
Distance: 5 to 10 miles daily
Operator: English Lakeland Ramblers ( www.ramblers.com; 800-724-8801)
Difficulty: Easy The Dumbleton Hall Hotel, a handsome 19th-century stone manor house situated on 19 acres of rolling Worcestershire countryside about 100 miles west of London, is your home base for a series of daily walks through rolling green meadows, beech forests, and tiny villages of honey-colored limestone cottages with thatched roofs that cluster around spired churches. The walks are so pleasant and the climbs so gentle you hardly know you're working your muscles at all—let alone burning calories. You'll pass through Upper & Lower Slaughter, along the river Windrush and Ey valleys, and through Stanton, Laverton, and Buckland. For a dollop of royal English history, you can duck inside Sudeley Castle, the former home of Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VIII.