As quoted by hiker John Muir, “wildest, leafiest, and the least trodden way I could find”, hiking is an interesting way to explore the United States varied terrain. According to the American Hiking Organization, since 2013 there has been an increase in the number of Americans who get out on trails. Before you hit the wilderness, it is important to understand the accessibility of the hiking trails, weather, social experience and wild animals. Read on to discover a compiled list of the best hikes in America.
21 of the Best Hikes in America
USA is gifted with some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the world. There is no doubt. From glaciers in Alaska to the rugged coast of Maine, these trails compel you to get into the touch with the nature. We have compiled a list of the best hiking trails in America, so that you can find places to hike near you.
In no particular order, below are the best hikes in America to explore the stunning wilderness with the land beneath your feet.
Devils Garden Trail
Distance: 7.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Don’t Miss: The Landscape Arch
This trail is regarded as one of the best hikes in America and the longest maintained trails in the Arches National Park, Utah. The total distance for this hiking trail is 7.8 miles and is a relatively difficult hike. There are no prominent peak seasons, you can visit all the year round. The trail is set at an elevation of 1178 feet, and the temperature can rise up to 45 degrees. There are a total of 51 campsites available with picnic tables and fire rings.
The trail is explored by many for its beautiful backcountry trek, numerous large arches, and high sandstone fins which will form new arches in the years to come. Visit the Landscape Arch which is the longest natural arch on the planet with 290.1 feet in length, and is definitely something you would not like to miss.
At the rest of the park, you can enjoy mountain biking, rafting, and scenic driving routes. Don’t hike the primitive trail when the routes are covered in snow.
Root Glacier Trail
Distance: 4 miles
Don’t Miss: The Ice Ravines
Located in Wrangell – St. Elias National Park, Alaska, this hiking trail in America offers you a chance to experience glacier viewing, scenery and mining history. Total distance is 4 miles and best time to visit is from June to August. As you venture on this trail, although the route is moderate, come prepared with hiking gear as there are steep sections.
When you reach the glacier, the surface is full of wonders and exploring the various formations is incredible. Water flows over the surface, and in some areas fast flowing water creates deep ravines. When these canyon-like ravines fill with water, they reflect a light aqua blue, mesmerizing to behold.
You can enjoy staying in the outhouses. Also a mountain bike trip is available with views of Donaho Peak, Mt. Blackburn and Regal Mountain. You should avoid walking along the edge of Root Glacier and beware of bears.
Distance: 16 miles
Don’t Miss: The Cable Ascent
It is one of the ultimate destinations and best hikes in America. Located in Yosemite National Park, California, nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,800 feet above sea level, it takes you to the famous granite dome. Through this hike, you get a taste of spectacular views like the Nevada Falls, Yosemite Valley, High Sierra, Liberty Cap, and of course the Half Dome.
This trek is recommended for only very experienced hikers as there is a lot of elevation and the trail takes around 10 to 14 hours to complete. With the distance of 16 miles, the best time to visit is from April to October.
The most anticipated part of the trek is the ascent by cables. There are two metal cables at 45 degree angles, that hikers use to climb the last 400 feet to the summit of the dome. No rock climbing equipment is required, however gloves are recommended to avoid cuts and blisters.
The crowd factor is so high for this trail that the Park Service has established a permit system for the cable route. Hikers that try out this trail find it quite extreme as the paths are very steep from the beginning to end. Do avoid hiking when there are thunderstorms in the area.
Livingit tip: You can camp at the Little Yosemite Valley campground in the night to get a head start in the morning and avoid day hikers.
Hoh River Trail
Distance: 6.2 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Don’t Miss: The Temperate Rainforest wildlife
This trail covers scenic beauty of the Olympic National Park, Washington which can be visited all-round the year and one of the best hikes in America. With a distance of 6.2 miles and elevation change from 600 feet to 4,300 feet, this trail offers difficulty level from easy to moderate.
These trails are well-maintained and at the end feature views of Mount Olympus and Blue Glacier. One stunning part of the trail is that it passes through a temperate rainforest, exposing you to various wildlife and ecosystems. Camping is allowed in designated sites only. You are advised to leave no trace of your stay to protect the vegetation, bears and other wildlife.
Distance: 5 miles
Don’t Miss: 360-degree view of Zion Canyon from the summit
This hike rewards you with an amazing view of the Zion National Park, Utah. The distance is 5 miles and it usually takes about four to five hours to complete. Hiking can be strenuous as it gets steep with exposure to long drop-offs. The best time to visit is Match to October. Restrooms and drinking water are available.
The beginning of the trail is quite level following the river and across the canyon. From then on there is slight elevation until Walter’s Wiggles along with a series of switchbacks. With an elevation change of 1,488 feet, there are chains along the sides of the rocks to help you climb. The steep path to Angel’s Landing Summit is strenuous and can be dangerous with long drop-offs. It may be best to skip this trail if you have a fear of heights.
Livingit tip: Use a backpack so that your hands are free to hold the chains while hiking.
Distance: 8.2 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Don’t Miss: The Glacier Bowl at the base of Alta Peak
This is an unforgettable adventure hike worthy of your bucket list and one of the best hikes in America. It is located near Sequoia National Park, California. Expert hikers rate the trail as difficult. Distance is 8.2 miles and best attempted from June to November. As you travel the trail, you come across four breathtaking lakes- Heather, Aster, Emerald, and Pear. You are allowed camping at numbered sites at Emerald and Pear Lakes.
Each lake has a different view, so you should definitely visit them all. The Edge of Pear Lake has views of the glacier bowl that climbs upward Alta Peak. Experience the Watchtower, a granite behemoth, that overlooks the valley below and is just a few miles ahead.
Distance: 11.2 miles
Don’t Miss: HaleaKala summit
This extraordinary hiking trail is located HaleaKala National Park, Hawaii, which can be visited all year around. The trail is situated at 7,990 feet and either goes the length of the rim of HaleaKala, or to its summit. This depends on whether you want an all-day hike or an easy trail.
If you opt for the summit hike then its a distance of 11.2 miles. You can explore the natural ecosystem of HaleaKala, terrain of red and black cinder cones, and the sights from the summit. But if you wish to stay overnight, you will require a permit. Watch out for the Hawaiian goose called Nene and for their welfare, do not feed them.
Cascade Canyon Trail
Distance: 14.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced
Don’t Miss: Hidden Falls
If you are looking for a scenic adventure, go for this hiking trail in America. Located in the Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, it is rated as strenuous with the highest elevation being 7820 feet. This trail covers a distance of 14.4 miles and can be visited from June to November.
This trail encompasses views of Lake Solitude and Lake Jenny, a magnificent viewpoint of the lakes called Inspiration Point, and the whitewater torrent of Hidden Falls. The falls are 400 feet above lake Jenny, and what you witness is an incredible cascade that is in fact hidden from the trail, but when found is a graceful sight.
A wilderness permit is required if you wish to stay camping overnight. And if you stay camping, beware of moose, marmot, and bears. In order to avoid the crowds and enjoy the scenic beauty of Lake Solitude, start early.
Franconia Ridge Loop
Distance: 9 miles
Don’t Miss: Cloudland Falls
The Franconia Ridge Loop trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from September to November. With a distance of 9 miles, it is located in Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire. This trail features a waterfall and is recommended for experienced adventurers.
The trail covers the ranges of White Mountain, Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln, and Little Haystack. Towards the end of the trail, is the Cloudland Falls, a cascade of 80 feet, and a common rest point for weary hikers.
With breathtaking views in the White Mountains at 3,260 feet you can enjoy the rugged wilderness but be wary of the rapid weather changes that this trail is subject to.
Livingit tip: Carry the right clothing for this trek, as the unexpected weather shifts can turn your hike from sunny to a foggy chilly nightmare.
Elephant Canyon / Druid Arch
Distance: 11 miles
Don’t Miss: Druid Arch
Located in Canyon lands National Park, Utah, this trail is a distance of 11 miles. Here you get to see spectacular views of Druid Arch, a uniquely-shaped angular arch, which resembles the Stonehenge. As you hike this trail, you travel through a gorge which brings you to the start of the elephant canyon. From there you ascend the elephant canyon to a viewpoint of the Druid Arch.
Also, do not attempt the last stage of this trail if you are afraid of heights. The final stage requires hikers to climb up a ladder and then climb a steep boulder to a sandstone bench where you get a good vantage point of Druid Arch. Hiking this trail in summer is not recommended. The temperatures can go as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to drink and carry plenty of water while on this trek, and start early to catch the best light.
Distance: 9 miles
Don’t Miss: Waimanu Bay
This trail is a strenuous 9-mile switchback that climbs 1,200 feet to the top of a ridge and then descends into the Waimanu Valley at Big Island, Hawaii. An alternative trail to see the Waimanu Valley is the Waipio trail to hike across Waipio Beach.
But to get to the vantage point of the valley, you will have to wade across the Waipio river. Only attempt going across the river at low tide, otherwise the river can get deep and wide. Muliwai trail, often called the Z trail, has nine campsites available if you want to take rest or enjoy camping. However, you will require a camping permit beforehand.
Once you reach the Waimanu Valley, you can experience its beauty uninterrupted by any tourists or civilians. Although once inhabited, this valley no longer has any residents due to a tsunami that hit in 1946. Explore the remaining ruins, the waterfalls Wai’ilikahi and Hi’ilawe, the spectacular Waimanu Bay, and the natural ecosystem of Waimanu.
Also, as you may encounter many rocky stream beds, do not attempt to climb them. If you do, you stand the chance of slipping and harming yourself.
Livingit tip: If you choose the alternative trail through Waipio Beach, then make sure you carry water shoes and waterproof clothing.
Washington Summerland Trail
Distance: 8.4 miles
Don’t Miss: Sighting Mount Rainier
Located at the Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, it is best visited from June to August. A round trip is measured at 8.4 miles and normally takes four hours to complete. This trail has a gradual inclination at the start as you trek through a forest, then after crossing a small stream you climb a steep route that lands you at the Summerland meadow.
This route is extremely popular for the sights along the way like wildflowers, mountain goats, and the exquisite view of Mount Rainier and little Tahoma from the meadow.
There are numerous campsites and camping facilities available. You can experience an amazing view of Mount Rainier while you stay in the meadow, making for perfect summer weekend hikes. You are advised to hike only on the constructed trails and rest on nearby rocks. And you will need both a camping and hiking permit for this trail.
North Vista Trail
Distance: 7.2 miles
Don’t Miss: Green Mountain 360-degree view
This trail will take your breath away with scenic canyon overlooks, forests of pinyon, sage, and juniper, the Gunnison River, and the Exclamation Point. Located at the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, the round trip distance is 7.2 miles with an elevation of 7582-8538 feet.
The difficulty level of this trek is rated as moderate and best visited from March to November. Apart from the numerous sights, one of the best is from the top of Green Mountain where you get a 360-degree view of the Black Canyon and surrounding area.
Distance: 1.8 miles
Don’t Miss: Champlain Mountain summit
The Acadia National Park is one of the most exhilarating hikes in America. Covering a distance of 1.8 miles and best visited from Jne to November, it takes you over numerous steep cliffs with an amazing view. This trail has many climbing obstacles, rating it as strenuous.
It is not recommended if you are afraid of heights. The trail is exposed and some points are very steep or overlook from high cliffs. There are many handrails, rungs, and ladders that aid hikers going on this trail, to avoid injury. Once your reach the summit if Champlain Mountain, feast your eyes on the ocean in the east and Dorr Mountain in the west.
It may even seem like the Precipice trail is more of a climbing route than hiking at times, but this adds to the fun and adrenaline! Think twice if you have any doubts about the weather, as slippery rocks can be dangerous. Do not take this trail lightly, and the park recommends not to bring children along for this trek.
Distance: 11.8 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Don’t Miss: Birds-eye view of Glaciers
This hike takes you through stunning peaks, wildflowers, and wildlife at the Glacier National Park, Montana. Its highest elevation gain is 7280 feet and the trail is a total distance of 11.8 miles round trip. This trail follows the length of the Continental Divide, making it exceptionally scenic.
Views of Mt. Oberlin, Mt. Cannon, and Heavens Peak will enlighten you in the beginning portion of this trek. As you progress this trail, you will reach the famous ledge, known for its narrow path which overlooks a chilling 100 foot drop. For safety, hand cables are installed along the length of the ledge. However, if you are afraid of heights you should turn around.
With perseverance you will reach the top of the Continental Divide, and get a great eye view of the glaciers- Salamander and Grinnell. You can visit this trail from mid-July to August. Also remember to carry bear spray and keep an eye out for the mountain goats.
Distance: 10 miles
Don’t Miss: Secluded view of Grand Canyon
This trail is located South of Zion National Park, and goes along the North rim of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. The trek is for a distance of 10 miles and as it goes along the rim of the Canyon, it provides hikers with an impressive view.
The North Rim is not as accessible as the South rim, and is more secluded. With an elevation change of 300 feet, this trail is rated Moderate. The Widforss Trail will take the entire day to complete and its best to start out early. This trail is regarded one of the best hikes in America, for its scenic views and its ability to give you an uninterrupted sight of the Grand Canyon.
Paint Mines Trail
Distance: 4 miles
Don’t Miss: 60 million year old Gulches
This trail is a 4 miles loop that traverses through canyons, and gives you a good look at the mines that have remained from around 9,000 years before. Found in the Paint Mines Park, near Calhan, Colorado, this trail is located on high plains and contains beautiful rock formations.
The eroded clay and sandstone pillars called gulches owe their vibrant colors to leaching of minerals and now have resulted in a spectacular sight. Sandstone blocks called Hoodoos have been sculpted by wind and add to the magnificence of the park. Numerous archaeological wonders inhabit this park, and it is definitely worth a visit.
John Muir Trail
Distance: 211 miles
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Don’t Miss: Thousand Island Lake
The trail of 211 miles goes through some famous mountain ranges like Mt. Whitney and Sierra Nevada. With a long scenic and sunny trail, it is regarded one of the best hikes in America. long distance trail is rated quite strenuous. Some of the best parts of the trail are the thousand island lake, where numerous little islands are seen dotting the water, and the Golden Staircase which you can climb to the top for spectacular views.
Starting from Yosemite it passes the Ansel Adams Wilderness and some great parks like Sequoia National Park and King Canyon National Park. Yosemite is known for having some of the best hikes in America, through this segment you can see mature forests and wildlife. The trail finally ends in California at Mt. Whitney, and usually it takes 1-2 weeks to complete, depending what segments of the trail you choose. The entire trail would take around 30 days if you are up for an amazing experience.
Mt. Healy Overlook Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles
Don’t Miss: Mt. Healy and Healy Ridge
This happens to be a fairly easy trail of 4.5 miles, that does not require much preparation or planning. Mt. Healy Overlook trail is located in Alaska in Denali National Park, near Talkeetna. There are dense forests, wildflowers and also the overlook of Mt. Healy that you can expect to see.
Some rewarding sights are the entrance area of Denali National Park, the Nenana River Valley, and Healy Ridge. You can continue hiking to the peak of the mountain for a more difficult but rewarding hike.
Cherokee Park Trail
Distance: 5.2 miles
Don’t Miss: Beargrass Creek Meadows
Cherokee Park is located in Louisville, Kentucky and its popular trail of 5.2 miles attracts many tourists. The trail goes through winding paths that cut meadows and the valley of Beargrass Creek. Its flat grounded path and relatively short distance makes it child friendly, easy to complete, and overall very pretty. It is a good place to have a hike, run, cycle, or walk your dog in.
Billy Goat Trail
Distance: 4.7 miles
Don’t Miss: Great Falls
This moderate 4.7 miles long hiking trail is located in Maryland, near Washington D.C. It lies in between the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, and all fall under the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. The trail also comprises of three sections that begin and end in the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
Rock hopping is an exciting part of this trail, and you can see the Great Falls. Since this trail attracts many tourists, arriving at the trail early can guarantee you a peaceful trek.
Hiking is one of the most inclusive outdoor recreational pursuits mainly due to the fact that no special training or high-technology gears are required. Waterfalls, redwoods and granite mountains aren’t typically visible from the interior of your car. There is also simplicity in putting the challenges of life aside and walking into the woods to communicate with the Mother Nature.
Whatever may be your reason for hiking; fun, fitness, spending time with family and friends or just to enjoy the outdoors; it will energize your soul for sure.
Now that you have read about the best hikes in America, you can confidently plan your next trip!