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20 Best Hiking Trails in the United States

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Hiking is one of the most adventurous activities a person can do on a vacation getaway with friends or family. If you’re adventurous, hiking can give you the most thrilling experience. 

Hiking is an excellent idea to explore nature, climb lush green mountains, and make unforgettable memories. It also allows you to access remote areas full of hills, rivers, and forests.

There are endless incredible hiking trails in the world. But, if you want to try the best out of them, you must plan a trip to America. Both North and South America offer you some gorgeous hiking trails. This is due to the effortless work done by the American Government to preserve national parks and other protected areas. 

The landscapes of these American hiking trails are just out of this world, attracting hikers across the globe. Due to active volcanoes, you can find expansive canyons, pristine lakes, snow-capped peaks, glaciers, and rock formations. 

Best Hiking Trails in the United States

1. Pacific Crest Trail, California

Pacific Crest Trail and sign in Washington
kellyvandellen / Adobe Stock

The PCT is approximately 2,650 miles long and runs from Mexico to Canada. It passes through the cities of California, Oregon, and Washington and reaches the heights of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain peaks. 

The trail allows visitors to explore different natural beauties, such as expansive landscapes, dense forests, deserts, and glaciers. Some do-not-miss hiking sections of the Pacific Crest Trail are John Muir Trail, Sky Lakes Wilderness, Sonora Pass, and Badger Flat to Little Willow Lake.

The Pacific Crest Trail is so expansive that it takes around five months to cover the entire trail. The best time to start hiking the PCT is summer and early fall. If you want a thrilling experience, you must hike the Pacific Crest Trail.  

2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Sunrise in Grand Canyon National Park from Mather Point.
Kim Magaraci / ViaTravelers

Grand Canyon National Park is the most fantastic hiking trail you will ever experience. It consists of two rims: the North Rim and the South Rim. 

The North Rim includes the Grand Canyon Lodge, a Visitor Center, and hiking trails like the Transept Trail and Bright Angel Point Trail. This part of the canyon is less crowded, so hikers can explore it in complete solitude. Also, the North Rim trail is a bit remote and harder to hike. 

On the other hand, the South Rim delivers an incredible National Park experience to all visitors, with a hotel, concierge, food, and hop-on-hop-off shuttle bus services. This part of Grand Canyon National Park is open throughout the year and is comparatively easy to climb.

Uncle Jim Point, Wildforss Trail, Colorado River, and Grand Canyon Village are some of the best sections of this hiking trip. On the other hand, add Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park to your list for long getaways. 

If you want to make your Grand Canyon hike memorable, it is best to explore both rims. But, in case of time shortage, consider hiking the South Rim, as it offers countless scenic views and experiences to visitors.  Additionally, most hikers think the Grand Canyon is like Red Rock Canyon. But that’s not the case. Both trails are unique.

See Related: Most Scenic Bike Trails Across America

3. Yosemite National Park, California

View at Washburn Point, Yosemite
Cait Kontalis / ViaTravelers

Yosemite National Park is in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains of California. This is famous for its granite walls, waterfalls, and iconic natural wonders in America. 

Some of the top-rated hikes in Yosemite Valley are Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Mist to Vernal Fall & Nevada Fall, Mirror Lake, and Cathedral Lakes. The valley has a shuttle bus service. You can park your vehicle at Yosemite Village or Half Dome Village and take the shuttle to the trailheads. 

Though it is a challenging climb, this hiking adventure offers incredible views of the valley. It’s around 10 miles round trip to the top and back to the valley. This hiking welcomes visitors to explore the majestic trails of Yosemite Valley in all four seasons.

See Related: Most Beautiful Vacations in the US

4. Paint Mines, Colorado

Beautiful shot of the Paint Mines Interpretive park in Colorado
Flip Dalfonso/Wirestock Creators / Adobe Stock

This hiking trail in Colorado is a short-distance trail. It is an open space with different rock formations and color variations. Paint Mines covers only 4 miles of trails that connect the valley. But you can experience various things like hoodoos, caprock canyons, and dark-colored clay.  

This trail is named Paint Mines after Native Americans who used colored and crushed sandstone to make paint and mining soils to build ceramic pottery. 

The trail also features beautiful scenic views with a unique historical setup. It is the best path for a contemplative walk with family and friends. You will also come across human remains while hiking. These remains show the existence of humans on the planet from 9000 years ago. 

If you’re interested in discovering history, you must visit Paint Mines at least once. For your convenience, consider hiking the trail clockwise. 

Furthermore, if you’re in Colorado, don’t skip visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. This national park features some of the best hiking trails, taking your hiking experience to the next level.

See Related: Most Beautiful & Best Running Trails in America

5. Cirque Of The Towers, Wyoming

Stunning view of the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range, Wyoming. #WyomingMountainScenery
Nikki – stock.adobe.com

The Cirque of the Towers is near the Rockies of Wyoming’s Wind River Range. It comprises multiple jagged granite spires and some awe-inspiring peaks deep near the river range. The trail provides all visitors with striking scenery and day-hiking, camping, and fishing opportunities.

The Cirque of the Towers is a famous mecca for rock climbers and backpackers. Usually, alpine climbers visit this place. But it is also loved by hikers.

To visit this trail, you may plan a two —or three-day trip. Also, always start your journey from the Big Sandy Trailhead and pass through glacial lakes to reach high peaks. You can also consider reading the famous Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range book before planning your trip out here.

6. Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Hikers in Zion National Park's Angels Landing Trail
Stephen / Adobe Stock

Angels Landing is a rocky hiking trail at Zion National Park. It is 1,488 feet high and 2.5 miles long. As you cover this distance, you will reach the top of Angels Landing, offering an out-of-the-world view of Zion Canyon. 

It is a memorable adventure that can fulfill every taste. The spectacular views of the 270-million-year-old rock layer of Zion Canyon can take you back to the Triassic time.  

Thousands of hikers visit this trail every year for adventure. To control overcrowding and keep visitors safe, they need a permit from the National Park Service. 

Angels Landing is a bit challenging, as some parts of the trail are steep, which can scare you for a moment. If you’re afraid of heights, avoid visiting this place. Overall, this is one of the best hikes, with splendid views of Zion National Park and its surroundings.

7. The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

The Narrows hike, Zion National Park

The Narrows is a slot canyon in Zion National Park. The trail is 7.4 miles long and can take multiple days to complete. It’s considered one of the most challenging trails in the United States due to its steep descents and climbs and narrow passages that sometimes require hikers to get down on their hands and knees.

If you think you’re up for the challenge, start at Lava Point Trailhead at 6:30 am; this will give you plenty of time to explore before sunset when it’s time to head back home!

The Narrows Trail is a slot canyon that runs through the Virgin River’s sandstone walls. It begins at Lava Point, located on the east side of Zion National Park. At the beginning of the trail, you’ll find yourself walking alongside the Virgin River; however, as you continue down into The Narrows, the river will slowly disappear from view.

This is because the walls of The Narrows are so steep that they block out any light from above. Sometimes, it feels like walking in an underground cave with only your headlamp illuminating the way.

8. Diamond Head State Monument Trail, Hawaii

Scenery from Diamond Head State Monument

The Diamond Head State Monument Trail is an easy 2.6-mile loop trail with a 400-foot elevation change. It’s not too challenging, but it does have some steep sections that are best avoided by those with limited mobility. The trail is also relatively easy to find and can be accessed from either Diamond Head Road or Kapahulu Avenue.

The trail offers amazing city views, so it’s great for those who want to see what Honolulu has to offer without setting out on a strenuous hike. Many different types of plants along the way make this hike good for nature lovers and photographers alike! You’ll also pass through Waikiki Beach, where you can stop for a swim before heading back home!

9. Greenstone Ridge Trail, Isle Royale National Park, Michigan

Lush green path along the Greenstone Ridge Trail, Isle Royale National Park surrounded by dense birch trees and moss-covered boulders.
Ken Jacobsen, Jr. – stock.adobe.com

The Greenstone Ridge Trail is a demanding, yet rewarding route through the remote terrain of Isle Royale National Park. The trail traverses the entire length of the park, from Rock Harbor on Lake Superior to Windigo Campground on inland lakes.

Visitors can choose to hike either part or all of this trail; however, it’s important to note that sections are often closed due to weather and wildlife concerns. Additionally, camping sites along the way become occupied quickly during peak summer months, so plan!

If you’re up for an adventure, this hike will not disappoint. It offers sweeping views over Lake Superior at every turn—and you’ll pass several historic sites like Rock Harbor Lighthouse and Forest Beach Ranger Station, where hikers can rest before continuing their journey across Greenstone Ridge.

10. Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Hiker on Teton Crest Trail

The Teton Crest Trail is a 22.7-mile hiking trail in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. The trail is considered difficult and is open from late June to late September.

The Teton Crest Trail winds through the length of Grand Teton National Park, beginning at Signal Mountain at the park’s southern boundary and ending at Garnet Canyon at the park’s north end, near Jenny Lake. This section of the trail offers many beautiful views along its route and opportunities for camping along various places on this scenic path.

11. Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Kalalau Trail Scenery

If you’re looking for an adventure on the trail, Kalalau Trail should be your destination. The 11-mile hike takes you along the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii, where you’ll see stunning views of waterfalls and rainforests.

The trail itself is challenging, with steep climbs and strenuous sections. It’s not a hike for beginners or those who suffer from knee problems or other health issues that might make them susceptible to injury on uneven ground.

Anyone interested in attempting this hike should prepare physically and mentally for a long day out in nature. Also, remember that due to its length, it’s not something that can be done alone or without proper preparation beforehand (like having enough water).

12. Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

Hikers at Glacier National Park's Highline Trail

The Highline Trail is a 15.8-mile backcountry hiking trail in Glacier National Park, Montana. It is rated as difficult and may require some rock scrambling, but it’s not quite as strenuous as other trails in the park.

The Highline Trail was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1935 and has since been expanded upon by several hikers who have added more side trails to make for easier access to nearby lakes and mountains.

There are also many campsites along the way where you can set up camp for the night if you’d like to spend extra time on this one, as it’s one of the most beautiful hikes in the USA. You’ll get some iconic views of Montana’s rolling mountains and plains.

Read Also: Places to Visit in Montana

13. Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park's Rim Trail

The Rim Trail is a 3.5-mile backcountry hiking trail in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. It is rated as easy and takes you through the heart of Bryce Canyon on a paved path that winds its way around the canyon’s rim.

You get an amazing view of all five major rock formations in the park, including Fairyland Point and Inspiration Point, two popular photo spots. This is a great trail for hiking with children, as there are lots of places to stop and rest along the way. It’s also a great place to take in the sights at sunset.

14. Mount Whitney, California

Mount Whitney and Skyline

Mount Whitney is one of the best hikes in the USA. The out-the-back trek takes 6-7 days to complete, and we’ve recommended several backpacking trips solely focused on this journey in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This challenging trek will take you to stunning mountains and valleys and spectacular views of the mountains below.

It’s a real feat to climb that mountain. The trail climbs over 10,000 feet in just a few days, and it’s not for the faint-hearted. You’ll need to be well prepared with plenty of food and water as well as a good tent and sleeping bag. This is one of the best hikes in America, and we recommend you do it as a bucket list idea if you’re an avid hiker.

15. Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Road in Yosemite National Park

The Half Dome is one of Yosemite National Park’s most famous and beautiful natural formations. It is a popular hiking destination for hikers, climbers, families, and tourists. The hike takes about 6 hours but can be extended to spend more time at the top or sightseeing.

The trail starts from Glacier Point Road (which can be accessed by car) and leads up through a forest before reaching an open area with views of Half Dome and El Capitan. The last mile or so is steep, with loose rocks that require careful footing, so make sure you wear good shoes! You’ll also need plenty of water as there aren’t any sources on this part—bring extra just in case, though!

16. Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

The Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail is a popular and scenic hike through Yellowstone National Park. The trail follows the same path as the main road that runs through the park, but it’s also one of the more challenging hikes in Yellowstone. It’s a great way to see Yellowstone’s amazing scenery, including some of its most famous geysers and hot springs.

Once you reach the overlook spot, you’ll get an outstanding view of Grand Prismatic Spring’s beautiful colors, making this tougher hike all worth the effort.

17. Penobscot & Sargent Mountains, Acadia National Park, Maine

Penobscot Mountain Scenery and Skyline

The Penobscot & Sargent Mountains are two of the most popular mountains in Acadia National Park, Maine. They’re located just south of Mount Desert Island and offer a great view of the surrounding area.

The Penobscot & Sargent Mountains are part of the Appalachian Trail and offer an excellent way to explore some of America’s most beautiful landscapes. It’s also one of the few places to see all four seasons in one day. If you are visiting the East Coast and love the great outdoors, add these mountains to your bucket list of hiking trails in the USA.

18. Devils Garden Trail, Arches National Park, Utah

Landscape Arch from Devils Garden Trail, Utah

Devils Garden Trail is one of the most popular hiking trails in Arches National Park, Utah. The Devils Garden section of the park is full of natural stone arches, some of which are more than 10 feet in diameter. The trail takes you past some of the best views in the park, including Delicate Arch.

The Devil’s Garden Trail is a great place to see what the landscape was like before humans arrived. It is marked and easy to follow. It’s also a great place to take kids since there are plenty of places to rest and explore the national park.

19. Continental Divide Trail, Rock Mountain National Park, Colorado

Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail is a long trail that runs from the United States to Canada. It’s located on the western edge of Rocky Mountain National Park and offers hikers an opportunity to experience some of America’s most beautiful scenery in one day or even multiple days or weeks if they’d like. You’ll get some of the best views of the Rocky Mountains throughout your entire journey on this epic hiking trail.

The Continental Divide Trail can be one of the most difficult hikes in the USA, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. It’s no wonder this trail is considered a bucket list item for many hikers and adventurers.

20. John Muir Trail, California

John Muir Wilderness Sign

The John Muir Trail is a rugged backpacking trail that spans 211 miles through the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. It’s among America’s most difficult trails but also one of the most rewarding. This trail is often called a pilgrimage because many hikers go on it to pay homage to John Muir, an influential naturalist and conservationist.

The John Muir Trail was completed in 1974, and the inaugural hike began on June 18, 1974. Since then, thousands of adventurers have taken on this pilgrimage through some of the most rugged terrains in America.

FAQs

What are the most popular long-distance hiking trails in the US?

The most famous long-distance hiking trails in the United States include the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail.

What is the most popular hiking trail in the US?

The Grand Canyon is the most popular hiking trail in the United States. You’ll find hiking opportunities from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon up the Colorado River to the North!

What are the best national parks for hiking?

There are many great national parks throughout the United States for hiking. Still, some of the best parks with epic hiking trails include Yosemite National Park in California, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

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