A trail near the Phantom Ranch.

photo by: Xanterra Travel Collection

June 5, 2019

Hit the Trails at These 5 Great Historic Hotels for Hiking

Ah, the open trail. Summertime is perfect for getting outdoors and catching some rays, and what better way to do that than by enjoying a scenic hike? Just about wherever you live, a hiking trail lies not too far way. The five historic hotels below, all members of Historic Hotels of America, are known for their abundant hiking opportunities. From unparalleled views of the Golden Gate Bridge to a one-of-a-kind Grand Canyon experience, the trails you’ll find at these hotels won't disappoint.

The Inn at the Presidio.

photo by: Paul Dyer

The Inn at the Presidio was built in the Georgian Revival style.

Inn at the Presidio—San Francisco

The Inn at the Presidio sits in one of the best neighborhoods for hiking and outdoor activities in San Francisco, which overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge. The titular Presidio, which served as a U.S. Army military installation for over two centuries before passing into the hands of the NPS, boasts a network of 24 miles of trails. That makes building a hiking loop that fits your needs as easy as can be. Highlights include Lovers’ Lane, once used as a footpath by Spanish missionaries, and the Marine Cemetery Vista, a restored dune habitat that surrounds a once-forgotten cemetery for sailors.

The Georgian Revival-style inn contains 22 guest rooms and suites in its main building. But if those are all booked, check out the Lodge at the Presidio, a sister property of the inn just down the block. A renovated historic hotel, it is the closest lodging to the Golden Gate Bridge in the city.

Mohonk Mountain House—New Paltz, New York

You can access 85 miles of hiking trails from Mohonk Mountain House, making it an excellent base camp for enjoying the temperate Hudson Valley. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986, the building (then known as the Stokes Tavern) and its surrounding land were purchased in 1869 for $28,000 by Albert Smiley, who was drawn to the region’s natural beauty. Lake Mohonk, from which the inn derives its name, is a glacial lake teeming with trout and many other fish species. Additional scenic spots nearby like Copes Lookout and Sky Top Tower were acquired over the following years.

Visitors can also experience Mohonk’s surroundings through one of six guided hikes offered by the hotel on its “Hiking Menu.” For example, the Survivalist Hike features survival tips from Mohonk’s head naturalist, while the Yoga Hike incorporates periodic yoga sequences into a trek through the woods.

The exterior of Omni Bedford Springs.

photo by: Omni Bedford Springs Resort

The Omni Bedford Springs Resort underwent a three-year restoration and expansion that was completed in 2007.

Omni Bedford Springs Resort—Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania

The Allegheny Mountains provide a scenic backdrop to the eight hiking trails offered at Omni Bedford Springs Resort, another National Historic Landmark. The trails range in length from 0.46 to 4.6 miles; hikers of all levels can find a trail that’s right for them. But each one shares an intimate connection to the surrounding flora and fauna that are unique to Pennsylvania. Some meander past lakes filled with bluegill sunfish, while others cut a course through woods of hemlock and black cohosh.

The hotel is known for its restorative mineral springs, which Native Americans used dating back to the late 1700s. It was the site of one of the first indoor pools and golf courses in the country, and several U.S. Presidents—including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison—visited the property during or after their time in office.

Phantom Ranch—North Rim, Arizona

Located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, a hiking trip to the Phantom Ranch is not for the faint of heart. It’s accessible only via two grueling trails (the Bright Angel and South Kaibab) or a raft ride down the Colorado River. But the rewards are resplendent for those who make the journey, with spectacular views and numerous vistas—like the verdant Indian Garden on the Bright Angel Trail—concluding with a crossing of the river itself. And if the hike proves too daunting a challenge, mules are also available to take visitors up and down the steep rocks.

The Phantom Ranch itself consists of several private cabins and four dormitory-style lodges divided by gender. In the 1920s, the National Park Service (NPS) commissioned Elizabeth Jane Colter to draft designs for the cabins. Though NPS intended to anoint the property Roosevelt’s Chalets, Colter successfully pushed for her preferred name—the one it still bears today.

The Timberline Lodge.

photo by: Timberline Lodge

Timberline Lodge is located inside the Mount Hood National Forest, an expanse of forested mountains over 1 million acres in size.

Timberline Lodge—Timberline, Oregon

Summertime hiking and skiing is a way of life at Mount Hood in Oregon. The Timberline Lodge is positioned on the south slope of the 11,249-foot mountain within the Mount Hood National Forest—an ideal spot for experiencing all the hikes the forest has to offer. The lodge also serves as a rest stop for hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs 2,650 miles from Canada to the Mexican border.

Built in 1939, the Timberline Lodge was designed by Gilbert Stanley Underwood, who also drew up plans for NPS lodges at Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, and more. The lodge was once described as an example of “Cascadian architecture,” in part due to its steep-pitched roof that alluded to the mountain itself and the local materials used in construction. The design would later be altered and expanded upon by U.S. Forest Service architects William I. Turner and Linn Forest.

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Nicholas Som is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. He enjoys museums of all kinds, Philadelphia sports, and tracking down great restaurants.

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