The United States maintains 58 national parks and thousands of state parks. Which means if you love the outdoors, there is a seemingly endless number of hiking trails to entice you to unplug and reconnect with nature. And while there are terrific hikes in every state, here are some suggestions for the best hiking destinations in the USA.
The Mist Trail in Yosemite National Park, California
The Mist Trail runs along the Nevada Fall and the Vernal Fall. The spray from the waterfalls in springtime can lead to some slippery conditions, as there is a fair amount of overspray, but the views are incredible. The length of the hike depends on whether you walk the whole route, or only hike up to the first waterfall. It’s a difference of a 2.4-mile hike or a 5.4-mile round-trip trek.
South Kaibab Trail in Grand Canyon National Park
The South Kaibab Trail follows a ridgeline descent into the Canyon. As you hike, you’ll be treated to awe-inspiring, panoramic views. The trail into Skeleton Point is a solid 6-mile round-trip hike. Summer hiking is extremely difficult, and not recommended by the National Parks Service, as there is little shade and the temperatures are very high.
Awa’awapuhi Trail in Kauai, Hawaii’s Koke’e State Park
The Awa’awapuhi Trail reveals stunning views of the famed Na Pali cliffs. The trail begins in the midst of highland trees, but about three miles in, the views of the cliffs and the vast Pacific Ocean are revealed. It’s so stunning that you may just want to stay at the overlook. The first portion of the hike is downhill – which means that you’ll have to save some energy for that uphill return trek.
Cascade Canyon Trail in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park
The Cascade Canyon Trail is a longer hike, it runs approximately 14 miles, so this one takes some planning. But from the moment you begin it at Jenny Lake, you’ll be glad you did. The views of the evergreen forests, mountain peaks and passing wildlife in Grand Teton National Park will stay with you forever.
Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
There are more than 500 developed hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park that can appeal to hikers of all ages and skill levels. From the waterfalls to the dense forests, there is something that will grab your imagination and allow you to forget about any worries. Among these trails, is approximately 101 miles of the rugged Appalachian Trail.
Navajo Trail Loop in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon National Park, like nearby Zion National Park, provides stunning views for adventurers. Bryce is considered one of the best hiking places in the USA due to its striking rock formations, including rock pillars called hoodoos, that are the result of millions of years of erosion. You can take the more family-friendly loop, or opt for something more challenging. You may even want to consider a little nighttime stargazing.
Appalachian Trail aka 30-Mile Wilderness in Monson, Maine
Maine is known for hosting a 100-mile section of the Appalachian Trail that never crosses a paved roadway. You can make plans for the entire 100 miles, or choose the 30-mile rugged trek that takes you past Lower Wilson Falls, a maple tree forest and inspiring landscapes.
Beacon Heights in Linville, North Carolina
This is an easy short-distance hike that takes you from the trailhead to the summit of Beacon Heights. While the trail is only about one mile, you get to enjoy the views of Rough Ridge Overlook and Grandfather Mountain. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can try for distance on the 13.5-mile Tanawha Trail.
Torreya Challenge Loop in Bristol, Florida
Torreya is a mostly flat, moderately strenuous hike that runs as a 7-mile loop in Torreya State Park. Here, you’ll experience an incredible marshland forest, gorges and ridges.
Jay Peak Long Trail North in Jay, Vermont
Referred to as the “footpath in the wilderness,” the full distance of this trail is said to be the oldest long-distance trail in the USA, having been developed in the early 1900s. While it runs from Massachusetts to Canada, the Jay Peak Long Trail North can challenge both advanced hikers and novices, while still providing some spectacular views.
Burroughs Mountain Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington
Burroughs Mountain takes you to the highest point that is accessible by foot trail in Mt. Rainier National Park. It’s 6.3 miles, and it will test you. But you will be rewarded with one of the best hikes in the park and views of Willis Wall and Emmons Glacier as you go. Start at sunrise if you plan on making this a day hike.
Rocky Top in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
This one is not for the faint of heart. It’s a strenuous hike has you climbing up to Rocky Top and up Thunderhead Mountain. This takes some planning, including a very early morning start so that you can guarantee you will return before nightfall, as it runs nearly 14 miles. Your rewards include pretty fantastic views of the Smokies.
Harding Icefield Trail in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park
The 8-mile Harding Icefield Trail rewards hikers with panoramic views of Alaska’s glaciers. It also takes you through Alpine meadows and dense forests. Due to the significant elevation changes, most hikers consider this trek to be strenuous.
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