Looking for the best hiking spots in the US? Look no further.
With that in mind, we’ve highlighted a list of six of the best hiking spots in America. If you vacation to any of the regions where these trails and national parks are located, you owe it yourself to leave aside a few hours for a hike. You won’t regret it.
View the slideshow to see the six best hiking spots in America, and leave your own in the comments below.
The Grand Canyon
There are few natural attractions that receive as much attention as Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park, and for good reason. The Grand Canyon serves up some of the most out-of-this-world panoramas that you will ever behold, and you’ll find ample opportunities for photo ops.
In addition to being a great spot for photographers, though, Grand Canyon National Park also plays host to some of the most difficult and adventurous hiking trails in the country. The park boasts 15 trails that take you down into the canyon itself, and working through the rugged terrain – as well as facing long and challenging descents and ascents – will leave you plenty worn out at the end of a day.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
When most people think of hiking, their minds wander to well-worn dirt trails through wooded areas. That’s not what you’ll find at northern Michigan’s Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – a national park that stretches for 35 miles along the Lake Michigan coastline. You won’t need your hiking boots for the main event here, a high-rise dune climb that is best experienced barefoot (or bear-foot?) in the summertime.
That’s not to say that there aren’t hikes, though. A lengthy Heritage Trail opened just a few years ago, and there is plenty of room to wander along the park’s expanse.
Whether you simply wish to walk from the popular dune climb spot to Lake Michigan or would prefer to explore other side trails, there’s plenty to do here. Just remember to pack a lot of water! A trio of onsite campgrounds can turn your adventure into a multi-day experience. And you’ll probably want to: in 2011, Good Morning America named the Sleeping Bear Dunes the most beautiful place in the country.
Denali National Park
When the Discovery Channel compiled a list of the best American hiking spots back in 2011, they ranked this Alaska national park as number one. It’s difficult to argue with that praise, since Denali couples challenging hiking with pure Alaskan beauty for a natural world cocktail that is truly intoxicating.
Unlike many national parks, Denali doesn’t really have well-marked and well-trod trails. For some hikers, that will take away from the appeal of the place. But for those who are looking for a rugged, trailblazing experience, Denali National Park is arguably the best place in the world to get it. We can’t stress enough that Denali is not for the faint of heart, though: between challenging terrain, forests and vegetation so thick they are impassable, and of course dangerous wildlife, the experience you’ll find here is for die-hard hikers only.
The Appalachian Trail
A list cataloging America’s essential hikes would not be complete without a mention of perhaps the most famous hiking challenge on United States soil.
Spanning from Georgia to Maine – a 2,178-mile stretch that makes it the longest trail in the country – the Appalachian Trail is a behemoth. Hiking the whole thing is like running a marathon, in that it’s something a lot of people would love to accomplish before they die. A “thru-hike,” as it is called, is a big challenge to undertake though, and if you’re going to do it, it can’t just be a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Just like running a marathon, hiking the Appalachian Trail takes training and preparation, from building up your strength to planning out stops ahead of time for meals and supplies. You can also just hike bits and pieces of the Appalachian Trail though, making the trail a pretty constant hiking option if you are vacationing anywhere in the eastern United States.
Rocky Mountain National Park
There are a lot of great hiking spots to be found scattered throughout the Rocky Mountains, but this park – located in northeast Colorado – is arguably the best.
The park boasts a number of trail opportunities, but our favorite is the Keyhole Route, a challenging eight-mile hike/climb that will take you nearly 5,000 feet up Longs Peak. The mountain stands at over 14,000 feet, making it one of the more audacious climbs in the Rockies (and you will indeed see a few mountaineers trying to scale the wall to get to the top).
If you’re not an experienced mountain climber though, the Keyhole Route can yield amazing views and plenty of obstacles on its own. You’ll navigate rugged terrain and even climb over a few trail-blocking boulders, but at the end of the day, you’ll feel fulfilled in mind, body, and soul.
Yosemite National Park
Everyone knows about the beauty waiting in California’s Yosemite National Park, but not as many people realize how outstanding the hiking is within the park.
Yosemite National Park is nearly 750,000 acres in size, meaning that its sprawl could legitimately cover a small state. Within that spacious expanse are coiled 800 miles worth of hiking trails, each of which explores a different part of the park and offers a wholly unique experience. From dense forests to towering mountains (El Capitan, anyone?), all the way to stunning valleys and glistening waters, Yosemite National Park looks like something out of a painting, and we’re sure you’ll find plenty to enjoy in its near-limitless hiking opportunities.