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The United States has some of the best hiking trails in the world, with diverse landscapes ranging from unearthly desert environments to rugged alpine passes and ridgelines to meandering coastlines. Here are some of the best hikes in America:
South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; Ocean Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine; Mohonk Labyrinth and Lemon Squeeze, New Paltz, NY; Angels Landing Trail; Devil’s Bridge Trail; Nugget Falls Trail, Tongass National Forest; Appalachian Trail, Shenandoah National Park; Burroughs Mountain Hike, Mount Rainier National Park; Wonderland Trail, Mount Rainier National Park.
The Pacific Crest Trail is a 2650-mile long hike that traverses North America’s landscape from south to north from the border of Mexico to Canada. The Appalachian Trail passes through 14 states from Georgia to Maine on the East Coast of the United States. Lake Tahoe has some beautiful hikes and scenic views.
The famed Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile long trek that takes you through a valley floor. John Muir Trail (Sierra Nevada, California) is one of the best hikes for “finding yourself”. Continental Divide Trail (CDT) covers more than 3,000 miles across five states: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.
We’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best hikes in America, covering a wide range of terrain and difficulty levels. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just getting started, there’s something on this list for you.
List of Best Hikes in America
The Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Hike
The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic natural wonders in America, and the Rim-to-Rim Hike is the ultimate way to experience it. This challenging hike covers 23.5 miles and takes you from the North Rim to the South Rim of the canyon. Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the canyon, as well as a variety of ecosystems.
The Kalalau Trail in Hawaii
The Kalalau Trail is a stunning hike that takes you through the lush, tropical terrain of Kauai’s Napali Coast. This challenging hike covers 22 miles round trip and takes you through verdant valleys, past towering waterfalls, and along sheer cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
The Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian Trail is a 2,190-mile trail that runs from Georgia to Maine. While many hikers choose to tackle the entire trail, there are plenty of shorter sections that offer their own unique beauty and challenges. From the rugged terrain of the White Mountains in New Hampshire to the rolling hills of Virginia, there’s something for everyone on the Appalachian Trail.
Angels Landing in Zion National Park
Angels Landing is a challenging and exhilarating hike that takes you to the top of a towering rock formation in Utah’s Zion National Park. The hike covers 5.4 miles round trip and involves climbing up steep switchbacks and along narrow ledges with sheer drops on either side. The views from the top are absolutely breathtaking, making this hike a must-do for any adventure seeker.
The John Muir Trail in California
The John Muir Trail is a 211-mile trail that winds through some of California’s most stunning landscapes, including Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail is named after the famed naturalist John Muir, who helped establish many of the national parks in the area. With its stunning alpine lakes, towering peaks, and abundant wildlife, the John Muir Trail is a bucket-list hike for many hikers.
The Bright Angel Trail in the Grand Canyon
The Bright Angel Trail is a classic hike in the Grand Canyon that takes you down into the canyon and back up again. The hike covers 12 miles round trip and offers stunning views of the canyon’s geology and unique ecosystems. While the hike can be challenging, there are plenty of rest stops and water stations along the way to help you stay hydrated and energized.
The Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park
The Wonderland Trail is a 93-mile loop trail that circles around Mount Rainier, one of the tallest peaks in the United States. The trail offers stunning views of the mountain and the surrounding wilderness, including alpine meadows, cascading waterfalls, and glacial rivers. While the trail can be challenging, there are plenty of campsites and backcountry shelters along the way to help you rest and recharge.
The Half Dome Hike in Yosemite National Park
The Half Dome Hike is a challenging and iconic hike in Yosemite National Park that takes you to the top of a towering granite dome. The hike covers 16 miles round trip and involves climbing up steep switchbacks and along narrow ledges with sheer drops on either side. At the top, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Yosemite Valley and surrounding wilderness.
The Maroon Bells in Colorado
The Maroon Bells in Colorado is a stunning hike that offers some of the most breathtaking views in the Rocky Mountains. The hike begins at Maroon Lake, where you’ll be greeted by the iconic Maroon Bells, two towering peaks that reflect perfectly in the crystal-clear waters of the lake.
The trail then takes you through fields of wildflowers, past cascading waterfalls, and up into the high-alpine wilderness. Along the way, you’ll see stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys, with the shimmering Maroon Lake far below.
One of the highlights of the hike is the Maroon Bells Scenic Loop, a 1.6-mile trail that takes you around the lake and offers stunning views of the Maroon Bells from different angles. Another must-see is Crater Lake, a picturesque alpine lake surrounded by towering peaks.
The Maroon Bells hike is moderately difficult, with a total distance of about 11 miles and an elevation gain of around 2,300 feet. While the trail can be challenging at times, the breathtaking views and stunning natural beauty make it well worth the effort.
If you’re planning to hike the Maroon Bells, be sure to come prepared with plenty of water, food, and sunscreen, as well as warm layers and sturdy hiking boots. And don’t forget your camera – the Maroon Bells is one of the most photographed spots in all of Colorado, and for good reason.
The Narrows in Zion National Park
The Narrows is a unique and unforgettable hike in Zion National Park that takes you through a slot canyon carved out by the Virgin River. The hike can range from 2.5 to 16 miles depending on how far you want to go, and involves wading and sometimes swimming through the river. The narrow walls of the canyon tower above you, creating a magical and otherworldly atmosphere.
The Pemi Loop in New Hampshire
The Pemi Loop is a challenging and rewarding hike that takes you through some of the most stunning wilderness in New England. The loop covers 31 miles and takes you through the heart of the White Mountains, passing by alpine lakes, waterfalls, and stunning views of the surrounding peaks.
The Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire
The Presidential Traverse is a challenging and epic hike that takes you over the highest peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The traverse covers 19 miles and involves climbing up and over 10 peaks, including the iconic Mount Washington. The views from the summits are breathtaking, and the sense of accomplishment upon completion is truly unforgettable.
The Inca Trail in Peru
The Inca Trail is a world-famous hike that takes you through stunning mountain landscapes and ancient Inca ruins on your way to the iconic Machu Picchu. The trail covers 26 miles and typically takes 4 days to complete. Along the way, you’ll see breathtaking views of the Andes Mountains, cross high-altitude passes, and explore ancient Inca temples and villages.
The Grand Teton Loop in Wyoming
The Grand Teton Loop is a challenging and scenic hike that takes you through the stunning Teton Range in Wyoming. The loop covers 34 miles and takes you through alpine meadows, subalpine forests, and stunning views of the towering peaks of the Tetons. Along the way, you may see abundant wildlife, including bears, moose, and elk.
The Enchantments in Washington
The Enchantments is a stunning and challenging hike in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Washington state. The hike covers 18 miles and takes you through breathtaking alpine meadows, past crystal-clear lakes, and up steep switchbacks to high-altitude passes with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. The trail is known for its stunning autumn foliage, which can be seen in late September and early October.
With so many amazing hikes to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Whether you’re looking for stunning mountain views, crystal-clear lakes, or ancient ruins, there’s a hike on this list that’s perfect for you. So grab your hiking boots and get ready to hit the trail!