Of all the vacation types out there, hiking has got to be the most underrated. It’s exercise, it boosts our mental health and wellbeing, and it offers the chance to reconnect with nature. What’s not to like! Especially, when you’re on one of the best hiking trails the USA has to offer.
Whether you are East Coast or West, North or South, the USA is jam-packed with phenomenal scenery and places to explore. This bucket list of treks and trails contains some of the best places to hike in the USA.
#1 Charlies Bunion Hike: Great Smoky Mountains, TN
Located on the Appalachian Trail, this 8-mile trek is popular and widely believed to be one of the best places to hike in the US. Why? The rocky summit of the Charles Bunion mountain offers phenomenal views of the Great Smokies.
Beginning at the parking area at Newfound Gap, this hike takes around 2 hours to the top and approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes back down. It is definitely a workout, with around 1640 feet of elevation gain. If you live nearby, you could take on the ‘Hike the Smokies’ Challenge, with those who have explored over 100 miles of the park collecting exclusive mileage pins.
#2 Grinnell Glacier Trail: Glacier National Park, MT
If you are looking for a challenging day hike amongst exceptional scenery, the Grinnell Glacier Trail is spectacular. This area is filled with beautiful streams that run to the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Hudson Bay. With alpine meadows, picturesque lakes, vertical rock races, and gushing waterfalls, this 7.5 mile trail offers exceptional views and leads hikers up to the famous Garden Wall. There is also the chance to spot lots of local wildlife that are at home in the area, including bears, beavers, bighorn sheep, goats and more.
#3 South Rim Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Located in north-western Arizona, the South Rim Trail is iconic and widely accepted as one of the best hiking trails in the USA. A gorge of the Colorado River, the Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world. The South Rim Trail runs west from Pipe Creek for around 15 miles before arriving at Hermits Rest. It is a bit of a trek, but there is a shuttle bus that will take you to your point of origin.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a quieter hike, the North Rim Trail offers phenomenal views but with much less traffic.
#4 Glen Falls Trail: Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, TN
The Glen Falls is a short trail at just 2.3 miles, and it is an excellent choice for hiking with little explorers. It is a relatively easy trek and there are lots of natural play spaces for kids and places to explore. With waterfalls, rock faces and woodland that lead to a tunnel above a pool, it is certainly scenic. Plus, this trail is accessible year round.
#5 Petroglyph Wall Trail: Red Rock Canyon, NV
In the east of the Mojave Desert, the Red Rock Canyon is around 12 miles west of Las Vegas. The Petroglyph Wall Trail is one fairly short with the trail being around 6 miles. However, it is quite difficult and you may find some issues in terms of accessibility. The trail starts in the Willow Springs Picnic Area parking lot and leads up to the ancient artwork. This includes 800-year-old rock art including petroglyphs, which are artworks pecked into the rock, and pictographs or paintings.
#6 Burroughs Mountain Trail: Mount Rainier National Park, WA
The Burroughs Mountain is set up against the northeastern side of Mount Rainers, with the summit providing dramatic views of the volcano. The round trip is seven miles to the Second Burroughs and four to the First, where elevation reaches 900 feet. A heavily trafficked popular trail, it is a relatively moderate to difficult hike. We definitely recommend that you head up there prepared. You should dress warm with layers as there is often snow at the top.
#7 Mount Ida Trail: Rocky Mountain National Park, CO
Near Grand Lake Colorado, the Mount Ida Trail offers panoramic views of the beautiful scenery, with the Grand Lake to the south and the majestic Long’s Peak to the East.
It is best hiked from May to September, with lots of wildflowers and wildlife to spot along the way. An approximately 9 miles out and back trail, the difficulty level is hard, with approximately 2112’ elevation gain. Plus, the weather can be a bit unpredictable, with wind and sun potentially making the trek even more challenging.
#8 Half Dome Day Hike: Yosemite National Park, CA
Undoubtedly one of the best places to hike in the USA, the Golden State’s Yosemite National Park was first protected in 1864. Most famous for its beautiful waterfalls, the 1200 square mile park is home to 71 species of mammals as well as a variety of birds and reptiles. The Half Dome Day Hike is a 14-16 mile strenuous hike that is not for the faint-hearted. It is, however, Yosemite’s most prestigious. It has an epic elevation of 4,800, and it is best suited to the most experienced hikers. In fact, a permit is required, with a maximum of 300 hikers permitted on the Half Dome cables each day in the summer.
#9 Casey Meadows Trail: Lewis and Clark National Forest, MT
Located near Clancy, Montana, the Casey Meadows Trail follows the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail . It is approximately 13 kilometers, and it takes an estimated four hours to cross. The Lewis and Clark National Forest covers 1,863,7888 acres across west central Montana, and it is filled with some of the best places to hike in the US.
For a short one-mile hike that is suitable for beginners, the Memorial Fails Trail is a great choice. Experienced hikers looking for incredible views might prefer the Mount Wright Trail.
#10 John Muir Trail: Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, CA
Located on one of North America’s most well known and celebrated, the John Muir Trail is one of the most famous stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail. This epic long distance hike is home to some of the finest mountain scenery in the continental US. However, it typically takes around three weeks to complete. With 46,000 feet of elevation, six mountain passes to cross and totaling over 210 miles, this one promises an adventure like no other.
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