The United States is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, with a vast and diverse landscape that offers some of the most breathtaking hiking trails in the world. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice looking for an adventure, there’s a trail for every skill level. In this guide, we’ll take you on a journey through the best hiking trails in the United States, each offering its own unique natural beauty and challenges.
Location: Eastern U.S., from Georgia to Maine
Why It’s Great: The Appalachian Trail is an iconic long-distance trail that stretches over 2,190 miles, traversing diverse ecosystems, from lush forests to alpine peaks. It’s a thru-hiker’s dream and offers unparalleled solitude and serenity.
Highlights: Climb to the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine, explore the Great Smoky Mountains, and cross the picturesque Shenandoah National Park.
Location: Western U.S., from California to Washington
Why It’s Great: The Pacific Crest Trail covers 2,653 miles of stunning wilderness, including the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges. Hikers are treated to breathtaking vistas, pristine lakes, and diverse ecosystems.
Highlights: Witness the breathtaking beauty of the High Sierra, hike through the volcanic landscapes of the Cascades, and explore the rugged beauty of the Oregon desert.
Why It’s Great: This challenging hike takes you from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other, offering incredible views of one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders. It’s a physically demanding trek with stunning rewards.
Highlights: Descend into the canyon via the Bright Angel Trail or South Kaibab Trail, cross the Colorado River, and ascend the North Kaibab Trail on the other side.
Why It’s Great: Angel’s Landing is a thrilling and challenging hike that rewards hikers with panoramic views of Zion Canyon. The trail features steep switchbacks and a narrow ridge with sheer drop-offs.
Highlights: The spine-tingling ascent along the exposed ridge and the breathtaking scenery of Zion Canyon below.
Why It’s Great: The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park offers jaw-dropping views of rugged peaks, alpine meadows, and glacial valleys. It’s a challenging but rewarding hike for those seeking adventure.
Highlights: Traverse the Garden Wall, where sheer cliffs drop off to reveal the vast expanse of the park below. Keep an eye out for wildlife, including bighorn sheep and mountain goats.
Why It’s Great: Havasu Falls is an oasis in the desert, with turquoise waters cascading over red rock cliffs. The hike to Havasu Falls takes you through the stunning Havasu Canyon and is well worth the effort.
Highlights: Swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Havasu Falls and exploring the other waterfalls in the area, including Mooney Falls and Navajo Falls.
Location: Washington (Mount Rainier National Park)
Why It’s Great: The Wonderland Trail circumnavigates the imposing Mount Rainier, taking hikers through diverse landscapes, including old-growth forests, alpine meadows, and glaciers.
Highlights: Encircle the massive Mount Rainier, hike through the lush Spray Park, and enjoy stunning views of the mountain’s icy flanks.
Why It’s Great: Bryce Canyon’s unique geology creates a surreal landscape of hoodoos and rock formations. The Queens Garden and Navajo Loop combine to offer a relatively short, but incredibly scenic hike.
Highlights: Descend into the heart of the Bryce Amphitheater, passing through towering hoodoos and the famous Queen Victoria rock formation.
Why It’s Great: The Lost Coast Trail is a remote and rugged coastal hike along California’s undeveloped coastline. It offers solitude, stunning ocean views, and encounters with marine life.
Highlights: Trek along the Pacific Ocean, explore tide pools, and witness the beauty of a pristine and wild coastline.
Location: Peru (with a U.S. starting point)
Why It’s Great: While the Inca Trail itself is in Peru, many U.S.-based tour companies offer guided treks that include the Inca Trail as part of their adventure. This hike combines cultural immersion with stunning landscapes.
Highlights: Hike through ancient Incan ruins, and dense cloud forests, and arrive at the breathtaking Machu Picchu at sunrise.
These hiking trails across the United States cater to various skill levels and interests, ensuring that everyone can experience the joys of outdoor adventure and connect with the country’s breathtaking natural landscapes. Whether you’re drawn to the dramatic canyons of the Southwest, the lush forests of the East Coast, or the rugged terrain of the Pacific Northwest, the U.S. offers a hiking experience you won’t soon forget.
Featured Image Credit: AlexLipa /Depositphotos.com.