The United States is filled with tons of variety in terms of landmarks, landscape, terrain, and the like, so it’s really no wonder hiking is such a popular pastime in this huge, beautiful country. With hundreds of major trails and even more unmarked ones, the United States definitely isn’t lacking when it comes to places to get your hike on! Based on the reviews and opinions of hikers, travelers, and experts, here are some of best hiking destinations throughout the country.
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The Grand Canyon is a one-of-a-kind hiking destination with some of the most amazing views in the world. It measures about 277 miles in length, 18 miles wide at its widest point, and a mile deep. Because of the steep descent into the canyon, many of the hikes here are quite difficult, even for more experienced hikers. Two of the most popular hikes here include the Bright Angel Trail and the South Kaibab Trail, both along the South Rim. The Grand Canyon attracts more than 4.5 million visitors every year.
Source: Thousand Wonders
Montana is filled with so many amazing natural settings, making it a nature-lover’s dream. With over 700 miles of trails, Glacier National Park offers its visitors sparkling lakes, freshwater streams, rolling meadows, rugged mountains, deep forests, and tons of wildlife including grizzly bears, elk, and mountain goats. The destination gets its name from the extreme glaciers that helped to build the park’s rock formations over 10,000 years ago. Because of the Earth’s climate change, there are now only 26 glaciers remaining here, all of which are predicted to be gone by the year 2020.
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Yosemite National Park contains nearly 1,200 square miles of steep cliffs and mountains, towering trees, shimmering lakes and beaches, meadows, and glistening waterfalls up to 200-ft high! While the majority of the tourist activity takes place within the 7-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley (above), there are actually over 800 miles of trails to explore, from easy, paved trails to challenging, unkept trails. There are even guided tours and climbing lessons available for those more inexperienced hikers. Yosemite National Park draws in over 4 million visitors each year.
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The Columbia River Gorge contains the second largest river in the United States and encompasses a huge area of both Washington and Oregon. Stretching 80 miles in total, this canyon is home to many beautifully towering waterfalls and hundreds of trails to offer that are suitable for all different hiking levels. Some common hiking trails among the Columbia River Gorge include Dog Mountain, Angel’s Rest, and Mount Defiance.
The Appalachian Trail runs all along the East Coast, from Maine all the way down to Georgia, and is considered one of the best and most varied trails in all of the United States. While the length of the trail changes a bit over time as new trails are added or old ones are modified, the total current length is about 2,200 miles. Since it’s so long, there are two main options for choosing your hike: you can either start at the area closest to you; or you can do further research to find the section of the trail that best fits your needs and desires, and travel here to start.
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While the Great Smoky Mountains aren’t quite as rugged as some of the other hiking mountains in the United States, the views and experiences here are still just as incredible. From calm streams to rushing waterfalls, the Smokies have over 800 miles of trails to choose from. Not to mention, this mountain range is located more south, so it’s much easier to hike all year-round! Some hiker favorites include Mount Sterling, Mount Cammerer, and Chimney Tops.
Source: Zion National Park
Zion National Park is so well-organized and has so much to offer, it truly is a hiker’s heaven. There are backpacking and overnight options for more experienced hikers, and easier daytime trails for those who are a bit less experienced. The park even includes a shuttle system that drops people off at many of the trailheads for convenience. A few of the most popular hikes at Zion include the Narrows, West Wall of Zion Canyon (with the Kayenta Trail and the East Rims Trail), and Angels Landing.
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From leisurely walks with very little elevation change to intense climbing hikes, Rocky Mountain National Park has so much to offer its visitors of all different experience levels. With the highest peak of the Rockies reaching over 14,000 feet, there are tons of amazing trails to choose from here, including The Loch, Mills, Lake, and Flattop Mountain.