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Watch April’s Total Eclipse From These 13 Trails

by Staff

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On August 21, 2017, my eyes snapped open at 3 a.m. I nudged my sleeping wife and barked at my son, who was playing astral hooky from work on eclipse day. Nebraska, ho!

A two-hour drive later, I woke everybody up when we pulled into Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, where park officials handed us maps and eclipse goggles. At the visitor center, we joined a yoga class while we waited for the moon to slide across the sun. 

After the last dawnward-facing dog, we cast our eyes to the north, where a butte erupted into the blue sky. It was the perfect place to watch the sun go out. At the top of the promontory, a British guy who’d traveled 4,000 miles to witness totality greeted us. “Just so you know,” he said, “there’s a rattlesnake up here with us.” He gestured into the underbrush, and sure enough, there was a large, coiled snake. We were spooked, but as soon as the sunlight began to fade, our eyes turned toward the skies. 

All of which makes me want to ask: Where will you be when the sun goes out this year? The eclipse will extend on a curve from Mexico to the Maritime provinces in Canada, as Javier M. Jubier’s interactive Google map shows in mind-boggling detail. 

“The biggest mistake people make in picking a viewing spot is over-commitment,” says David Makepeace, the eponymous guy at eclipseguy.com. “You’ve got to be ready to run out from under cloud cover, and that might be difficult to do on a trail. You cannot miss this.” As the hour approaches, you can click on weather.gov’s eclipse tracker, to check conditions near you. You’ll need your safety glasses, of course, so this eclipse isn’t the last thing you see. 

Makepeace plans to be in reliably sunny, dry, Mazatlán, Mexico, when the shadow makes landfall in North America. He’s a cloud-phobe, because they ruin all the eclipse fun. Accordingly, it’s with some peril that I offer specific suggestions for more northerly, cloudier places to view the eclipse. They might be great, they might be a washout. But at least this is a start. As usual with hikes, local intel (and an accurate day-of weather forecast) trumps any suggestions I make here. 

Still, isn’t it nice to dream of a blue sky that suddenly sprouts stars for your entertainment? All hike suggestions are squarely in the eclipse path, with a thrilling two to four minutes of totality. (Eclipse times and durations below are all gleaned from Jubier’s awesome map.)

500 feet above sea level, the Mazatlán Lighthouse has the best views of the city, the port, and the ocean. Hike among the biodiverse plants and animals in the park. (Photo: Daniel Rosiles-Garcia via Getty Images)

Mexico

Hike: El Faro Lighthouse in Mazatlán

Totality: 11:09 a.m.; 4 minutes, 17 seconds

In Mazatlán, head for the El Faro Lighthouse, where a half-hour hike on a gravel path will bring you to spectacular ocean and eclipse views, as the moon shadow rushes toward you at 2,228 miles per hour. Space.com has more viewing spot recommendations, as well. 

enchanted rock, texas
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (Photo: Steve Potter)

Texas

Hike: Summit Trail, Enchanted Rock State Natural Area in Fredericksburg

Totality: 12:15 p.m.; 4 minutes, 23 seconds

What better place to see an eclipse than a massive pink granite dome, just under two hours from Austin? The .8 mile summit trail will elevate you above the soon-to-be-darkening landscape. 

Cypress trees reflected in water Beavers Bend State Park
Cypress trees grow from the waters of Mountain Fork in Beavers Bend State Park. (Photo: John Elk III via Getty Images)

Oklahoma

Hike: Skyline Trail, Beavers Bend State Park in Broken Bow

Totality: 1:47 p.m.; 4 minutes, 16 seconds

The eclipse clips the corner of Oklahoma, home to Palimena, Wister, and Beavers Bend state parks, all of which are within the path of totality. Beavers Bend is the most popular and has a number of trails with extensive views. The Skyline Trail is an 8-mile loop offering plenty of clear-sky opportunities. 

Bear Cave Trail on Gaia GPS
Click on the map to explore Bear Cave Trail on Gaia GPS. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

Arkansas

Hike: Bear Cave Trail, Petit Jean State Park in Morrilton

Totality: 1:52 p.m.; 4 minutes, 15 seconds

The trail does include a cave, but don’t hang out there. Trip accounts declare it to be more of a boulder hike, with plenty of sweeping views at the outlooks, when you’re not in the cave. Scramble on top of a nice flat rock, and you may have the eclipse all to yourself. 

peewah trail trail of tears state park
Click on the map to explore the Peewah Trail on Gaia GPS. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

Missouri

Hike: Peewah Trail, Trail of Tears State Park in Jackson

Totality: 2:00 p.m.; 4 minutes, 8 seconds

The park is a memorial to the forced—and deadly—march of Native people into Oklahoma, across the Mississippi River. Pay your respects as you take the 1.5 mile Peewah Trail to a river overlook, which should offer spectacular views of the darkening landscape and the suddenly star-spangled Mississippi, as the moon drifts in front of the sun. 

Carbondale, Illinois, on Gaia GPS
Click on the map to explore Carbondale, Illinois, on Gaia GPS. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

Illinois

“Hike”: Shawnee Hills Wine Trail in Carbondale

Totality: 12:01 p.m.; 4 minutes, 9 seconds

OK, it’s not actually a hike. More of a pub crawl. But the wine-growing region southwest of Carbondale will offer opportunities to toast the totality. Want a calmer setting? Nature purists will find plenty of lakefront horizons to scan in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Sanctuary, east of town. 

Backpackers on the nature trail, Hoosier National Forest
Hoosier National Forest (Photo: Douglas Sacha via Getty Images)

Indiana

Hike: Pate Hollow Trail in Hoosier National Forest, east of Bloomington

Totality: 3:06 p.m.; 4 minutes, 2 seconds

A 2-mile hike along the northernmost trail will lead to the shoreline of Monroe Lake, with optimal views of the eclipse. The southernmost point of the Glidewell Trail in Whitewater Memorial State Park brings you to wide open views of the lake and surrounding countryside, and should be a great spot to watch the moon and sun do their dance. 

erie bluffs state park map
Click on the map to explore the trails around Erie Bluffs State Park. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

Pennsylvania

Hikes: West Overlook Trail and Lookout Trail in Erie Bluffs State Park, Erie

Totality: 3:18 p.m.; 3 minutes, 41 seconds

The eclipse nips far northwest Pennsylvania, home to Erie Bluffs and Presque Isle state parks. The state tourism board recommends both as prime viewing zones. The West Overlook takes you to the shoreline, with unobstructed views across the water, while the Lookout Trail will situate you on the edge of a ravine, with views to the south. 

Goodman Mountain on Gaia GPS
Click on the map to explore Goodman Mountain on Gaia GPS. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

New York

Hikes: Coney Mountain and Goodman Mountain near Tupper Lake 

Totality: 3:26 p.m.; 3 minutes, 29 seconds

Ben Brosseau, communications director for the Adirondack Mountain Club, warns that it’ll be mud season in the Adirondacks in April, so don’t even think of climbing Mt. Marcy to view the eclipse. He recommends staying under 2,500 feet; the mountains around Tupper Lake will afford good views, if the 70 percent chance of cloud cover doesn’t call the whole thing off.

view from mt philo
View from the top of Mt. Philo (Photo: Cara McKee)

Vermont

Hike: Mt. Philo, Mount Philo State Park in Charlotte

Totality: 3:27 p.m.; 2 minutes, 53 seconds

The Long Trail up Mt. Mansfield might work as an eclipse viewing locale, if conditions permit. But mud season will be a challenge here, too, so opt for the .75-mile jaunt up Mt. Philo, to enjoy spectacular (and less slippery) views. 

Mt. Major on Gaia GPS
Click on the map to explore Mt. Major on Gaia GPS. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

New Hampshire

Hike: Mt. Major in Farmington

Totality: 3:30 p.m.; 2 minutes, 22 seconds

The Granite State has any number of rocky promontories that would be great to sit on during totality–if you can make it there and back safely. Mt. Jackson would be my pick, depending on trail conditions. If you’re playing it safe, head for Lake Winnipesaukee and make the 1.5-mile trek up Mt. Major. This is all about the eclipse, after all.

bald mountain map
Click on the image to explore the area around Bald Mountain on Gaia GPS. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

Maine

Hike: Bald Mountain in Rangeley

Totality: 3:30 p.m.; 2 minutes, 24 seconds

We know what you’re thinking. Forget it: Mt. Katahdin, and much of Baxter State Park, will closed during the eclipse. (It would be cool, though.) Instead, head over the Bald Mountain in nearby Rangeley, and enjoy the 2.3-mile hike to the rocky summit and unlimited views–if the clouds happen part that day. 

Black Marsh Trail on Gaia GPS.
Click on the map to explore Black Marsh Trail on Gaia GPS. (Photo: Gaia GPS)

Maritime Provinces in Canada

Hike: Black Marsh Trail in Prince Edward Island

Totality: 4:37 p.m.; 2 minutes, 51 seconds

And so we bid farewell to Eclipse 2024, as it slides off shore in eastern Canada. But not before a glorious walk on the Black Marsh Trail, with unlimited sky and ocean views in one of the last North American places darkened by an eclipse until 2044. I don’t know about you, but I expect to be dead by then, so I’m planning like it’s my very last chance to see something spectacular.

Speaking of death, what about that rattler, with whom I shared the eclipse in 2017? We completely forgot about the snake, as the miracle of the eclipse unfolded. But that just shows you how magical the experience was: It made even mortal threats slip my mind entirely.

The snake must have been distracted as well. It slithered off into the eerie darkness with nary a rattle. I hope you’ll be more careful than I was, wherever you watch this year.

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