There’s no better way to revel in the resplendence of America the Beautiful than to immerse yourself in it, out on the trails. From coast to coast, there are hikes all across the U.S. that offer unrivaled beauty and adventure.

We’re talking about next-level hikes that traverse some of the most splendid scenery in the country: waterfall adventures, journeys through old-growth forests, expeditions up majestic mountains, and odysseys through literal grand canyons. These are the iconic places in the U.S. that belong on every outdoor enthusiast’s bucket list, and here are the best hiking trails that will put you right in the middle of it all.

Mountain Hiking Trails

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” If you’ve ever felt the pull of the marvelous, majestic mountains, you know there’s only one way to satisfy this particular type of wanderlust: on the trails. Whether you’re looking to scale some seriously high peaks or looking for a short-and-sweet trek that puts you there, these mountain hiking trails across the US are all worthy of your bucket list:

Canyon Hiking Trails

There’s nothing quite like standing at the precipice of a canyon, gazing out at the immense expanse stretching endlessly into the horizon. It’s a momentous moment that anchors you in the here and now, and something you really must experience in person — and you will, along these incredibly beautiful canyon hiking trails in the US.

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Forest Hiking Trails

There is a peace beneath the forest canopy that can only be experienced. Immersing — or “bathing” — in the forest is guaranteed to fill your bucket, and whether you’re in the lush landscape of one of the country’s temperate rain forests or venturing into the rugged wilderness of the Badlands or one of the country’s remote national parks, the following forest hiking trails offer so much more than mere mileage.

Waterfront Hiking Trails

For those whose wanderlust leads them to the water, there are some truly extraordinary trails that offer jaw-dropping views and a wholly wondrous waterfront experience. Lace up your boots and be prepared to get a little wet on these waterfront hiking trails for your bucket list:

Lace up your boots and get ready for a soul-filling, scenic adventure when you tackle these iconic hiking trails in the U.S. Awe and wonder await.

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Best Hiking in the U.S.

Where can you find the best hiking in the United States?

"Best hiking" in the United States is totally subjective, but most outdoor enthusiasts will agree that the following areas are among the top, most bucket-list-worthy placers to hike in the US:

  • The Colorado Rockies. The Rocky Mountains span 3,000 miles from British Columbia and Alberta in Canada through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, all the way down to New Mexico. This massive mountain range is known for its dramatic scenery and abundant wildlife, and nowhere is this more true than Maroon Bells. Part of the Elk Mountains, a sub-range of the Rockies, Maroon Bells is the ultimate nature postcard: a startlingly blue lake, abundant meadows, and two 14,000-foot peaks.
  • The Smokies. Most people know the park as a partial home to the famed Appalachian Trail, but hiking routes abound throughout the park, offering views of sprawling meadows, ancient forests, and blooming wildflowers throughout the year. The highest point in the park is Clingmans Dome, and Cades Cove offers myriad of historic buildings and educational opportunities, too.
  • The Adirondacks. Surrounded by unbelievable landscapes and full of attractions that you won’t find in other areas of the Empire State, the Adirondack Mountains are a place of beguiling beauty. The region is flush with pristine lakes, glorious waterfalls, and scenic splendor, making for some truly exceptional hiking in the US.
  • Hawaii. There's really no place more beautiful than The Aloha State, a place where mountains met ocean and lush forests, wondrous waterfalls, smoldering volcanoes, and stunning sand beaches cover the landscape. Some notable places to hike in Hawaii include Akaka Falls State Park, Haleakalā National Park, Waimea Canyon, and the Na Pali Coast.

 

What is the longest hiking trail in America?

The longest hiking trail in the U.S., the American Discovery Trail is a 6,800-mile route that travels from coast to coast across 15 states and boasts the longest distance of any U.S. trail. Along this epic trek, you'll encounter numerous points of interest including national parks and rivers, historic monuments, and American icons, including:

  • Cape Henlopen State Park
  • Chesapeake Bay
  • Blackwater Falls
  • Great Serpent Mound
  • Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge
  • Fort Larned National Historic Site
  • The Garden of The Gods - both Illinois *and* Colorado!
  • Pikes Peak Cog Railway
  • Great Basin National Park, and, of course
  • The Golden Gate Bridge

For those who don't feel like taking on a nearly 7,000 mile hike (guilty!), you can pretty much cater the trail to suit your needs, with numerous lodging and scenic options wherever you choose to trek.

What are the best mountain hikes in the United States?

While the United States might not lay claim to Kilimanjaro or Everest, our country is nevertheless home to some of the best and most magnificent mountains in the world, including, of course, some truly amazing mountain hikes:

  • North Cascade Mountain Range. Referred to the "Alps of America," hiking abounds in this #pnwonderland.
  • The Sawtooths. One of the country's most photographed ranges, the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho are a true treasure. The wilderness area is home to 40 trails that total over 350 miles. Used for day hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding, there's abundant adventures to be had in the Sawtooths.
  • The Tetons. While Yellowstone tends to steal the spotlight in Wyoming, the Grand Tetons are nothing short of extraordinary -- and absolutely bucket-list worthy. The park's headliner, of course, is the Teton range; and to view these mountains there are myriad trails and accessible summits that don't require advanced hiking skills. However, in the interest of safety, it's best to tackle the Tetons with a guide; Exum Guides lead hikes and climbs in the park and can help you determine the best summit for your skill level and time constraints. And for advanced climbers, the adventure outfitter even offers a a climb of the legendary Grand Teton itself.
  • Guadalupe Mountains. There's something for every skill level, from short-and-sweet nature walks to the strenuous, 8.5-mile trek to the eponymous Guadalupe Peak, commonly referred to as the "Top of Texas." Reaching the incredible Guadalupe Peak is quite an arduous journey, as the trail climbs 3,000 feet through a lush conifer forest.