You love to explore the great outdoors, and hiking is your ultimate passion. But with so many incredible hiking trails in the US, it’s tough to know where to start. That’s where “What Are The Best Hiking Trails In The US?” comes in. This product is your comprehensive guide to discovering the most breathtaking and memorable hiking trails across the country. Whether you’re seeking panoramic mountain vistas, serene lakeside paths, or rugged coastal trails, this guide has got you covered. Get ready to embark on unforgettable adventures as you explore the very best that America’s hiking trails have to offer. If you’re an avid hiker or someone who simply enjoys being outdoors and taking in the beauty of nature, you’re in luck. The United States is home to some of the most stunning hiking trails in the world. Whether you’re a beginner looking for a leisurely stroll or an experienced hiker seeking a challenge, there is something for everyone. In this article, we will explore some of the best hiking trails in the US, including the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Glacier National Park, and Acadia National Park. Let’s embark on a virtual journey and discover the wonders of these magnificent trails!
Stretching over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is a legendary hiking destination. As one of the longest hiking-only trails in the world, it offers an incredible adventure for those who dare to tackle it. You’ll traverse through diverse landscapes, from dense forests to scenic mountains and tranquil streams. The Appalachian Trail is a true test of endurance and determination, rewarding hikers with stunning views and a sense of accomplishment like no other.
Pacific Crest Trail
Similar to the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail covers a vast distance of approximately 2,650 miles. Spanning from the borders of Mexico to Canada, this trail takes hikers through three states: California, Oregon, and Washington. Along the way, you’ll encounter majestic mountains, alpine lakes, and breathtaking wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail is a challenge that presents opportunities for both solitude and camaraderie, allowing you to connect with nature and fellow hikers in profound ways.
Continental Divide Trail
For the true adventurers seeking a wild and rugged experience, the Continental Divide Trail is an epic choice. Stretching over 3,100 miles across the Rocky Mountains, this trail takes you through five states: Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. As you navigate through remote wilderness and traverse high peaks, the Continental Divide Trail promises unforgettable vistas and a connection to the natural world that is unparalleled. Prepare yourself for solitude, self-reliance, and the adventure of a lifetime.
Yosemite National Park
Known for its awe-inspiring granite cliffs, towering waterfalls, and ancient sequoia groves, Yosemite National Park is a hiker’s paradise. Within this vast wilderness, several prominent destinations await, including Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, and Glacier Point.
Yosemite Valley is the heart of the park, captivating visitors with its dramatic granite walls and tranquil meadows. Here, you can embark on hikes that lead you to iconic landmarks such as Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and El Capitan. The valley offers a diverse range of trails suitable for all levels of hikers, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings.
A symbol of Yosemite, Half Dome is a granite monolith that towers over the park. The hiking experience to its summit is challenging but incredibly rewarding. This strenuous trek necessitates stamina, as you ascend steep granite slopes and ultimately utilize a cable system to reach the top. The panoramic views from the summit of Half Dome are simply breathtaking, making the arduous journey well worth it.
Located high in the Sierra Nevada, Tuolumne Meadows boasts alpine meadows, granite domes, and pristine lakes. Hiking in this area offers a serene and peaceful escape from the crowds of Yosemite Valley. Numerous trails wind through the meadows, taking you to beautiful destinations such as Gaylor Lakes, Cathedral Lakes, and Elizabeth Lake. Tuolumne Meadows provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquility of the alpine environment.
For an unforgettable vista of Yosemite Valley and its surrounding grandeur, head to Glacier Point. This viewpoint offers breathtaking panoramic views of iconic landmarks such as Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Clouds Rest. You can either drive to Glacier Point or, for a more adventurous experience, embark on the Four-Mile Trail from Yosemite Valley. Be prepared to be in awe of the sheer beauty that unfolds before you.
Yellowstone National Park
Famous for its geothermal wonders, picturesque landscapes, and abundant wildlife, Yellowstone National Park is a hiking destination that should not be missed. Within this vast wilderness, there are several must-visit locations, including Old Faithful, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Yellowstone Lake.
No trip to Yellowstone is complete without witnessing the iconic eruption of Old Faithful. This geyser, known for its punctuality, reliably erupts approximately every 90 minutes, shooting hot water and steam high into the sky. There are numerous trails in the nearby area that allow you to explore the unique geothermal features of this geologically active region.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Carved by the powerful Yellowstone River, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a breathtaking sight. Towering waterfalls, vibrant colors, and sheer canyon walls create a mesmerizing landscape. Hiking along the rim of the canyon offers panoramic views and opportunities to observe the dynamic forces of nature that have shaped this remarkable geological feature.
Mammoth Hot Springs
Located in the northwest corner of the park, Mammoth Hot Springs is a fascinating showcase of thermal activity. The terraces of Mammoth Hot Springs, formed by mineral-rich hot springs, create otherworldly formations that constantly evolve. Strolling along the boardwalks allows you to admire the intricate patterns and vibrant colors, making for a unique hiking experience.
The largest high-elevation lake in North America, Yellowstone Lake offers a serene and picturesque setting for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking along the lake’s shoreline presents opportunities for solitude and tranquility, allowing you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as Yellowstone Lake is home to a diverse array of species.
Zion National Park
Renowned for its towering sandstone cliffs, narrow slot canyons, and vibrant colors, Zion National Park is a haven for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Within this awe-inspiring landscape, Angel’s Landing, The Narrows, Zion Canyon, and Observation Point are must-visit destinations.
Considered one of the most thrilling hikes in the United States, Angel’s Landing offers breathtaking views and a sense of adrenaline. As you ascend a narrow ridge, with sheer drop-offs on either side, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping vistas of Zion National Park. This exhilarating trail is not for the faint of heart but promises an unforgettable experience for those up to the challenge.
Immerse yourself in the beauty of a narrow, winding canyon by hiking The Narrows. This unique trail involves wading through the Virgin River, surrounded by towering canyon walls that seemingly touch the sky. The ever-changing colors and patterns of the sandstone walls make this hike a photographer’s dream. Keep in mind that hiking the entire length of The Narrows may require special permits and proper equipment, so plan accordingly.
Providing a picturesque backdrop to many of Zion’s iconic hikes, Zion Canyon is a sight to behold. The towering cliffs, lush vegetation, and gentle flowing river create a serene and tranquil atmosphere. Numerous trails wind through Zion Canyon, varying in difficulty and length. Whether you opt for a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike, you’ll find yourself immersed in the natural beauty that makes Zion National Park so remarkable.
For a panoramic view of Zion Canyon and its surrounding beauty, hike to Observation Point. This trail ascends steeply, rewarding hikers with stunning vistas that stretch as far as the eye can see. The hike may be strenuous, but the sense of achievement and the vastness of the landscape make it all worthwhile.
Grand Canyon National Park
A true marvel of nature, the Grand Canyon is a sight that words cannot do justice. With its immense size, awe-inspiring vistas, and breathtaking colors, Grand Canyon National Park is a must-visit for any hiking enthusiast. Within the park, several trails stand out, including the South Kaibab Trail, Bright Angel Trail, Rim-to-Rim Trail, and Havasu Falls.
South Kaibab Trail
If you’re seeking stunning vistas and jaw-dropping photo opportunities, hike the South Kaibab Trail. This trail descends into the heart of the Grand Canyon, offering sweeping views of the colorful layers that have been carved by the forces of erosion. Remember to carry plenty of water and be prepared for a steep ascent on your return journey.
Bright Angel Trail
Arguably the most popular hiking trail in the Grand Canyon, the Bright Angel Trail is a classic choice for visitors of all skill levels. This well-maintained trail winds down into the canyon, providing scenic viewpoints and multiple rest areas along the way. Whether you choose to hike a short distance or venture all the way to the Colorado River, the Bright Angel Trail offers an unforgettable experience.
For the ultimate Grand Canyon adventure, consider embarking on the Rim-to-Rim Trail. This challenging hike takes you from one rim of the canyon to the other, offering an immersive experience that showcases the vastness and grandeur of this natural wonder. Be prepared for a multi-day journey, as the Rim-to-Rim Trail covers a distance of approximately 24 miles. The reward of witnessing the canyon from both sides is well worth the effort.
Nestled deep within Havasu Canyon, Havasu Falls is a hidden gem that is well worth the hike. Known for its striking turquoise waters, cascading down red rock cliffs, Havasu Falls provides a picturesque and awe-inspiring sight. The journey to reach this hidden paradise requires obtaining permits and hiking several miles but the enchanting beauty of the falls and serene pools at their base are unmatched.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
As the most visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers an abundance of natural beauty and hiking opportunities. With its verdant forests, panoramic views, and historic landmarks, this park is a hiker’s dream come true. Notable highlights within the park include the Appalachian Trail, Clingmans Dome, Charlies Bunion, and Alum Cave Trail.
The Appalachian Trail
Passing through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Appalachian Trail offers hikers a chance to embark on a section of this iconic long-distance trail. With its picturesque views, diverse ecosystems, and rich history, hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail within the park is an experience that should not be missed. Lace up your boots and step onto this legendary trail that spans from Georgia to Maine.
The highest point in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome is a must-visit destination for panoramic vistas. A steep 0.5-mile trail leads you to an observation tower, which grants breathtaking 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges and lush forests. On a clear day, you may even catch a glimpse of several states from this vantage point.
Situated along the Appalachian Trail, Charlies Bunion is a rocky outcrop that offers awe-inspiring views of the Smoky Mountains. This strenuous hike rewards you with stunning vistas, especially during the fall when the foliage is ablaze with vibrant colors. The rugged and rocky terrain adds to the sense of adventure and makes for a memorable hiking experience.
Alum Cave Trail
Known for its unique geological features and stunning views, the Alum Cave Trail is a standout choice within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This moderately difficult trail leads you through mossy forests, alongside rushing streams, and past iconic landmarks such as Arch Rock and Inspiration Point. The final stretch of the trail takes you to Alum Cave, a massive concave bluff that offers a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding mountains.
Glacier National Park
Nestled in the rugged mountains of Montana, Glacier National Park is a wilderness lover’s paradise. With its towering peaks, shimmering lakes, and abundant wildlife, this park offers endless opportunities for exploration. Notable trails within the park include the Highline Trail, Grinnell Glacier, Hidden Lake Overlook, and Iceberg Lake.
Dubbed as one of the most scenic trails in Glacier National Park, the Highline Trail takes you along the Continental Divide, offering breathtaking vistas of glacial valleys, alpine meadows, and jagged mountain peaks. This trail presents an excellent opportunity to view wildlife, including mountain goats, bighorn sheep, and black bears. Be prepared for narrow pathways and steep drop-offs, as this trail is not for the faint of heart.
Trekking to Grinnell Glacier allows you to immerse yourself in the stunning beauty of this icy wonder. The trail winds through alpine meadows, alongside turquoise-colored lakes, and eventually leads to the glacier itself. Witnessing this awe-inspiring glacier up close serves as a reminder of the impacts of climate change and the fragile nature of these frozen giants.
Hidden Lake Overlook
Offering a relatively easy hike with rewarding views, the Hidden Lake Overlook trail is a popular choice within Glacier National Park. Situated in the Logan Pass area, this trail winds through alpine meadows adorned with vibrant wildflowers. The overlook provides a stunning vista of Hidden Lake, surrounded by towering mountains reflecting in its serene waters.
For a true alpine experience, embark on the Iceberg Lake trail. This moderate-level hike takes you through dense forests, across wildflower-filled meadows, and finally to a glacial lake surrounded by towering peaks. The pristine blue waters and floating icebergs create a mesmerizing sight. Keep in mind that this trail can be snow-covered well into the summer months, so plan accordingly.
Acadia National Park
Situated along the rugged Maine coastline, Acadia National Park offers a unique blend of lush forests, granite peaks, and breathtaking ocean views. This park is home to several memorable trails, including Cadillac Mountain, Jordan Pond, Precipice Trail, and Beehive Loop Trail.
As the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, Cadillac Mountain boasts stunning panoramic views of Maine’s coastline and beyond. Whether you choose to hike the challenging South Ridge Trail or drive to the summit, sunrise or sunset views from Cadillac Mountain are truly breathtaking and should not be missed.
Surrounded by scenic mountains, Jordan Pond presents a tranquil setting for hikers. The trail that circles the pond provides leisurely strolls and picturesque views. Enjoy the peacefulness of the pond as you spot wildlife and take in the beauty of the serene landscape.
For those seeking an adrenaline rush and a sense of adventure, the Precipice Trail offers a thrilling experience. This trail takes you along cliff faces, involves rock scrambling, and ultimately rewards you with unmatched views of the coastline. Due to its steep and exposed nature, the Precipice Trail is not recommended for those with a fear of heights or inexperienced hikers.
Beehive Loop Trail
A favorite among visitors to Acadia National Park, the Beehive Loop Trail packs a punch in terms of thrill and reward. This trail involves iron-rung ladders and narrow pathways along the eastern face of the Beehive mountain. As you ascend, spectacular vistas of Sand Beach, the coastline, and the park present themselves. Be prepared for a challenging hike that promises memories of a lifetime.
In conclusion, the United States is blessed with countless remarkable hiking trails that showcase the diversity and beauty of its natural landscapes. From the challenging and iconic Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail to the awe-inspiring wonders found in national parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, and Acadia, the opportunities for exploration are endless. Whether you’re seeking adventure, solitude, or connection with the natural world, these hiking trails offer something for everyone. So grab your backpack, lace up your boots, and embark on an unforgettable journey to discover the best hiking trails in the US.