Here you have our selection of the best hikes in the US. The national parks offer countless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and hike stunning landscapes, these are our favorites!
1. Angels Landing, Zion Canyon, Utah
4-6 hours / 5-miles / 1,500 feet of steep elevation gain along the trail.
When I did this hike, it was the second time I thought I’d die on a hike. You can read about the first one on number 5 of this list.
Clearly it’s not for someone looking for a casual stroll, but on the other hand, the Angels Landing Trail is a rewarding and spectacular experience. You start with a soft uphill trek through a paved trail, then climb a little more through the rocks and then on the last half mile work your way across a narrow sandstone ridge. If you are afraid of heights, as my hiking partner was, you’d better be prepared and try to focus on the view. I climbed by myself and I’ve never been so scared. As I was going up, a group of hikers told me that a couple died the previous week right there, very motivating!
But, when you reach the summit, you forget the deadly route you took to get there. There’s an unforgettable 360º view of the Canyon!
2. Four mile Trail, Yosemite, California
2 - 3.5 hours one way / 4.7 miles (9.4 miles, round-trip)
This hike will boasts spectacular waterfall views and has an ice cream shop at the end for a special, hard-earned treat. It’s a popular trail, so you won’t be alone but that must be for a reason! The trail connects to of the most important points within the park. It climbs from the Yosemite Valley floor to the south valley rim at Glacier Point. It has some of the best views of this stunning national park when you climb out of the trees on the valley floor.
What’s so good about this trail is that you can enjoy everything nature has in store for you in the park: the Yosemite falls in its glory (at some point you’ll be looking down on them), the Sentinel Dome, El Capitan, the Royal Arches and Half Dome.
You can shorten the hike to a one-mile round trip if you start at the Glacier Point Trailhead. This might be a good option if you want to add more drama to an already gorgeous hike by reaching Glacier Point at sunset. The best time to do this hike is during the summer months when you can enjoy the waterfalls and the trail gate is opened.
Bonus Hike in Yosemite
There is also the John Muir Trail, which is a completely different experience. A 210 mile trail takes you from Yosemite to Sequoia National Park and King Canyon National Park. It’s a gorgeous trek that will take you through the lakes, Granite Mountains and forests of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
3. Grinnell Glacier Trail, Many Glacier Area, Montana
6-8 hours / 10.3 miles / 2,286 feet elevation
Glaciers, wildlife, lakes and imposing mountain vistas surround you on the trails in this park. Our favorite trek in this park is the Grinnell Glacier Trail. The glacier is one of the most photographed and the scenic trail will take you to crystal clear lakes, meadows and will show you outstanding landscape views.
You can start at the Many Glacier Hotel Boat Dock or take a boat ride across Swiftcurrent Lake and Lake Josephine to shorten the walk down to 3.8 miles. The trail begins across flat terrain and gets steeper as you progress. From the shores of Lake Josephine, the Grinnell Glacier Trail offers superb views for its entire length. The beautiful turquoise waters of the Grinnell Lake are unforgettable. You’ll also enjoy views of Mount Allen, Lake Josephine and Mount Gould.
Make sure you keep going past the picnic area so you don’t miss some of the best views. The last part to Rocky Moraine is the steepest part but you’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of a retreating glacier and the beautiful alpine lake.
The Many Glacier Hotel provides all the comforts of home with incredible views of Swiftcurrent Lake and the surrounding mountains.
4. Rim Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
optional time / 13.1 miles
This is one of the most scenic places in the US. The Grand Canyon is truly spectacular and the Rim Trail lets you enjoy the magnificent landscape.
The Rim Trailstarts in the village and continues for nearly 12 miles to Hermits Rest. The first eight miles have an easy paved path. A good place to start is Mather Point entering from the South Entrance. If you are an early bird, enjoy the sunrise that covers the canyon with a beautiful light. If you enjoy biking, another great option is to cycle the trail.
I’d like to take a moment and share another hiking story with you all, if only to amuse you with the story. Another option is to hike the Bright Angel Trail. We did and it’s certainly not among my best hikes in the US, actually is probably the worst I’ve ever done! It’s a trail that will take you down to the river. At the beginning, the views are great and it’s a pleasant descent, you could stop at the Indian Garden and you’ll be great. However, we did not!
We went in July and the heat... OMG the heat! It was horrible, and the views? They both just get worse as you go down. The signs remind you of how you must go up when you’re done with the tortuous downhill ramble. They also tell you how your brain is suffering under the sun, which you already know because you are slowly being cooked alive. Sure there are better experiences on that trail, but not on July and certainly not starting in the middle of the day!Am I exaggerating? Maybe, but remember, as I pointed out on #2 of this list, this was the first time I thought I would die on a hike! Let this serve as a reminder to be a good scout and be prepared, plan ahead, know what you’re getting into.
5. Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon, Utah
2 - 3 hours / 5.5 miles one way / flat
This is a gorgeous Canyon. It really surprised us in a positive way and we enjoyed it so much that we did several hikes here. You can explore the canyon from inside, enjoying the rock formations and surrounding landscape or you can hike the rim trail, which will give you a view from the top. The entire Rim Trail extending from Fairyland to Bryce Point has several steep elevation changes and is 5.5 miles long.
Fairyland Point is at the northern end of the trail and you can enjoy spectacular views of Boat Mesa, Fairyland Canyon, the Sinking Ship and Campbell Canyon.
One of the things I liked the most of Bryce Canyon was its amphitheatre shape and Sunset Point. The name says it all.
6. Alum Cave Trail, Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee and North Carolina
5- 7 hours / 5 miles one way / 1,200 feet
This is a good hike for any time of the year thanks to its southern location. It might not have spectacular views like the other great hikes recommended in this post, but still you’ll walk through one of the most beautiful forests in the US. On this trek you’ll see clear streams and abundant waterfalls as well as wildlife.
This is a huge park so you have several trail options. Our favorite is the Alum Cave Trail to Mount Le Conte. It’s not too demanding and has a unique combination of views, adventure and geological gems.
You will climb through Arch Rock to Inspiration Point, which is a good place to view the valley while surrounded by mountains. Then you’ll reach the Eye of the Needle, the Alum Cave. There are cable hand rails as you pass over the rock ledges along the upper portions of the trail.
Upon reaching the summit, go to Cliff Top near the LeConte Lodge for amazing views of Clingmans Dome and the rolling mountains that lie towards the west.
7. Canyon trail, Kauai, Hawaii
2.5 hours / 3.4 miles
The Canyon Trail, in Waimea Canyon, is a popular trek on Kauai Island. It follows the northern rim of the Waimea Canyon on a beautiful and impressive path. The canyon is commonly referred to as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” and does not disappoint. There are great panoramic views on this trail that are sure to get your camera clicking. Make sure to follow this moderately difficult trail to the quaint and majestic Waipoo Falls. The Kokee Museum is also great experience that’s worth looking into.