Knowing the best hikes in the U.S. is the best way to ensure you have fun on your hiking trip. Besides knowing the trails near you, you also learn the hiking difficulty of each to match your experience.
Check out this roundup on the most popular hiking trails.
11 Best Hikes in the U.S. That Every Hiker Needs to Try
1. Chautauqua Trail in Chautauqua Park
The 80acre Chautauqua Park in Colorado has been in use since 1898. It has miles of hiking trails, but the best part is that those who are fit enough to reach the top get to enjoy the fantastic views of Boulder from several meters above sea level. You can start with the less challenging Chautauqua trail, which offers views of the Boulder and Flatirons, after which you can move onto more difficult trails.
2. Nugget Falls Trail in Tongass National Forest
Being an epicenter of hiking around the Tongass National Forest and the Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska is every nature lover’s paradise. Besides being one of the best hikes in the U.S., you can bet on spotting bald eagles, black bear cubs, and sockeye salmon.
Here, you have the option of hiking through meadows and dense forests and exploring caves. Or venture into a wooden “boardwalk” trail through muskegs. With more than 700 miles of trails, you will not need to see the same site twice because the Nugget Falls trail provides stunning views of the waterfall and the glacier in a relatively easy, 2-mile hike.
3. Billy Goat Trail in Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
This moderately challenging 4-mile hike is located in Maryland, and just a few minutes from Washington, D.C. Here, you get to experience the rocky crags of Great Falls, not to mention the raging Potomac River. So naturally, this makes the hiking trail incredibly popular, but visiting early will help beat the crowds.
4. Burroughs Mountain Hike in Mount Rainier National Park
Besides being home to one of the magnificent mountains globally, Mount Rainier National has more than 260 miles of maintained natural trails that will lead you through peaceful river valleys, old-growth forest, and subalpine meadows.
You can also check out the Burroughs Mountain hike for Mount Rainier’s stunning views that raise 14,410 feet above sea level and the alpine landscape. Mount Rainier’s summit isn’t the only hiking opportunity in the park.
5. Halema’uma’u Trail in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park will offer you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get up close and personal with the extreme heat of magma. It has several trails available to visitors, like the Earthquake Trail and Waldron Ledge, a beginner-friendly one-mile hike with beautiful ocean views. And the Halema’uma’u Trail, which is a one-mile hike descending about 425 feet to the southern edge of Kīlauea Caldera that will take you through a rainforest.
6. Canyon to Rim Loop in Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park spoils you for choice with hiking trails that range from two to seven miles and easy to moderate level terrain. Arrive early for sightings of ducks and geese on the banks of the river. Or in the afternoon for a glimpse of an eye-catching blue hero, not to mention a cougar or two. Smith Rock
7. South Rim Trail in Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona may be the most famous and iconic national park in the country. It features many hiking trails, including expert-only hikes from rim to rim and easy vista point hikes at the canyon’s edge. Besides the hiking trails, the canyon provides stunning views for miles above its rim and sights that you can only see at the base – where the Colorado River rages.
8. Half Dome Day Hike in Yosemite National Park
The Half Dome day hike in Yosemite National Park is the place to be if you are looking for a true adventure into the wilderness along a 14 to16 mile round-trip trail. Beginner hikers are, however, warned that this trail is exclusively for experienced and well-prepared hikers. This is because the elevation of 4,800 feet can be overwhelming for beginners.
9. Mount Ida Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 miles of wilderness encompasses lakes and mountains, with over 300 miles of hiking trails. These 300 miles hiking trails are filled with wildlife, wildflowers, and wide-open views. Mount Ida Trail is among the park’s most popular trails. Expect to see various species of reptiles, birds, and maybe a bear.
10. Point Lobos Loop Trail in Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
The Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in California offers you more than a dozen trails to explore. Being one of the best hikes in the U.S., you can enjoy views of the reserve and breathtaking ocean vistas. Since it is dedicated to preserving the wild, you can expect some pristine nature around every corner.
11. Upper Emerald Pool Trail in Zion National Park
Besides being Utah’s first national park, Zion National Park is known for its massive cream, red and pink sandstone cliffs, vast hiking trails with various difficulty levels and free-standing arches. If you love taking pictures, sunrise or sunset snaps guarantee you breathtaking photos of sunlight splashing into the river from off the cliffs.
The Upper Emerald Pool Trail is a relatively easy hike that will lead to sparkling waterfalls if you are a beginner.
12. Kalalau Trail in Ha’ena State Park
Kalalau Trail runs about 11 miles along Kauai island’s north shore to the Kalalau Valley. Keep in mind that this trail is challenging and dangerous and therefore only suitable for experienced hikers. The trek will take you through hills, streams and provide incredible views of the crystal blue ocean surrounding the island.
13. Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park has more than a dozen trail options ranging from easy to complex, like the Grinnell Glacier Trail. What’s more, the park houses up to 71 species of mammals, from the majestic elk to the tiny pygmy shrew and a variety of reptiles and birds you can spot along your hike.
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There you have it, fellow hikers. As a beginner hiker, you now have the necessary list of the best hiking trails to start with. But, on the other hand, as an experienced hiker, you now have more hiking trails to add to your bucket list and sharpen your prowess.
In your opinion, which are the best hikes in the U.S.? Let us know in the comment section below!
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