According to the Harvard Medical School caloric table, the average 155-pound person can burn more than 300 calories an hour when walking at a brisk pace. Fortunately, there are trails around the country which offer a coastal breeze, so you can enjoy them even when the mercury’s high. (Studies also show that moving your body in nature helps beat depression.) Lace up and check out one of these five trails to rev your heart rate along with your mood.
1. CLIFF WALK
Newport, Rhode Island
Visit on a weekday or early morning, and you might just get this 3.5-mile long path all to yourself. Designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1975, the path is mostly paved, making it easy for walks and runs, and it winds along Newport’s stunning coastline. You might see surfers catching waves at Easton Beach or people enjoying the lawns of mansions, including those belonging to the Salve Regina University campus.
2. DIPSEA TRAIL
Mill Valley, California
This rugged trail — also known as the Ben Johnson Trail — winds from Muir Woods National Monument through redwoods, wildflowers and up and down stairs to Stinson Beach, where the salty views are well worth the effort. The trail, at 9.5 miles, is an out-and-back path, and is known for the annual Dipsea Race. Some runners even perform it twice, in what’s known as the ‘Double Dipsea.’ If you prefer to walk, that’s just fine, because the varied terrain will surely get your heart pumping.
3. SANDY HOOK NATURE TRAIL
East Tawas, Michigan
This trail, located in Tawas Point State Park is a favorite among birders, especially in the spring and fall months. (There’s even a birding festival.) The trail features sandy terrain and meanders along the edges of Lake Huron and Tawas Bay. It’s a peaceful hike: Think quiet sand dunes, wetlands and a picturesque lighthouse — and at 1.5 miles, you just might want to linger, or walk it twice.
4. TORREY PINES STATE RESERVE TRAIL
La Jolla, California
There are several trails in the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, which rests along the coast just north of San Diego. The Reserve Trail is one of the easier loop options, at 2.3 miles, and features packed dirt paths. Come for the crashing waves below or the wildflowers. The trail has a 387-foot elevation gain, which mildly boosts your heart rate. For more of a challenge, try the nearby Red Butte or Broken Hill trails, which offer more varied terrain.
5. BIG FERRY TRAIL
Skidaway Island/Savannah, Georgia
This trail, located in the Skidaway Island State Park, offers sandy paths, coastal views and Georgia’s famous canopies of gnarled oak trees strewn with drapey Spanish moss. The Big Ferry Trail loop itself is 2.4 miles, but the ease and magic of it might make you want to stroll it again — or pause along the way to explore a rusted, 1930’s moonshine still. There is also a wooden observation tower about 1/2 mile from the trail’s start, which offers sweeping views of the park’s salt flats and marshy forests.