The 10 Best Hiking Spots in the USA
The Internet Said So
Everyone's opinion of "The BEST places to hike" are vastly different.
So, we went through all of the highest rated, and most talked about USA hiking spots on the internet and put them right here for you! Now, this may mean that these are possibly the most crowded hikes as well (but not necessarily). If you're looking for that breathtaking view with fewer people, check out our "Underrated and Under-traveled" blog post coming soon!
10. Cirque of the towers, wyoming
Bridger-Teton national forest
Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1885644
Part of the much larger Wind River Range (about 100 miles), the cirque is about a 22 mile loop that boasts views of craggy mountain peaks stabbing into the sky next to glass-like lakes. Most people spread this trip over 2-4 days. Hit this spot in the summer months of July-September. The altitude is all between 9,100' and 11,500' so plan on taking a few breathers!
9. mULTNOMAH FALLS, OREGON
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE
The tallest waterfall in Oregon, this place is an icon of photographers everywhere. Its 620' tall and there are options to take the switchback trail all the way up, view the water fall from the bridge or see it from below the lower falls for a full-scale view. The changing foliage with each season gives this entire area 3 very distinctly different moods in summer, fall and winter. It is a year-round waterfall (the second-tallest of it's kind in the USA) If you make the climb up to the top of the falls, you can not only catch a smaller cascade just before the upper falls, but you get a bird's eye view of the Columbia River Gorge. Worth the climb!
8. Angel's LAnding, Utah
ZION NATIONAL PARK
If you've never been to Zion, tab out of this page and start booking a trip.
Angel's Landing is 2.4 miles in length, with a 1500' elevation gain, with the last half mile of the hike requiring you to negotiate the infamous chains that keep you on the carved steps that are 18" wide and precariously perching you atop 1000' vertical drop-offs on either side. It is a truly thrilling hike.
We would recommend you getting there at either sunrise or just in time to catch the last bus of the day.
Catch the sunrise by catching the first bus out of the Zion visitors center is at 6:00am in the summer months May 17- Sep 25 and 7:00am during the rest of the year.
Give yourself enough time to get up and back, but be at The Grotto shuttle stop between 7pm-8pm (the shuttles vary throughout the year) Check the sunset time before you go up and prepare for 2-3 hours for your climb down and you'll be solid.
7. Harding Ice Field, Alaska
KENAI FJORDS NATIONAL PARK
Photo By Pepahavlin - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36795822
Cross a meadow, a few streams and maybe even see a bear or two! Bring your bear spray and make this 10 mile out and back hike to see Exit Glacier and Marmot Meadows. A year-round hike that can be accessed by fat bikes, cross-country skis, snowmobile, or even dog sled in the wintertime! Just about every corner of Alaska is beautiful, but Kenai Fjords is exceptional.
6. aRCHES NATIONAL PARK, UTAH
Because of the close proximity of all the awesome trailheads in Arches, we decided to place the park in it's entirety on the list. The landscape in Moab will place you on what feels like Mars, separating you from your knowledge of anything you knew about Earth. The rock formations, the colors and obviously the arches make the views here one of the most unique places on our planet.
If time is of the essence, you can do all of the most popular sites in a day, most of which are very easy:
- Delicate Arch (moderate-strenuous)
- Double Arch
- Balancing Rock
- Park Avenue
If you're feeling more adventurous there are some hikes that are far less traveled
- Devil's Garden primitive trail- landscape arch, and double O arch
- Fiery Furnace (permit required)
- Broken arch loop- pretty easy, but usually skipped over! (probably because most people think its broken)
5. hALF DOME, CALIFORNIA
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
One of the most widely recognized landmarks in the world, Half Dome at Yosemite has become a place that the masses vie to hike up. Because of the demand, this has gone from a permit hike to a lottery-style permit system. 225 day hikers and 75 backpackers are allowed up per day. This trail is 17 miles long, and it is seriously tough. The picture above can give you an idea of what you're rewarded with at the top, but we all know a photo will never do it justice. Many people place this trip high on their bucket list with good reason.
4. highline loop, MONTANA
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Besides this being a world famous hike, its pretty cool in that it has options for hikers to complete all or part of the 13.5 mile hike. The most popular hike is the out and back 7 mile Haystack hike. A particularly spectacular view on the hike is the Glacier Overlook, giving you a view of Grinnell Glacier, lake Grinnell, and the Many Glacier area with it's network of beautiful blue lakes. The Glacier Overlook trail is no joke, but the difficulty of the hike rewards a unique view of Glacier NP that cannot be seen elsewhere in the park.
3. John muir trail, california
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
Vernal Falls, Nevada Falls, the backside of Half Dome, Liberty Cap and a whole bunch of valley views on the switchbacks. The JMT inside Yosemite is a fairly short, moderate hike. It integrates with The Mist trail, but it's significantly less populated than The Mist and you receive much better views of the falls. Just isolating yourself from the hordes going to see the falls is alone worth this trail. And if you're feeling froggy, continue down the JMT for another 200 or so miles to the other end!
2. Mt Leconte, TENNESSEE
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK
By Aviator31 - English Wikipedia, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7916951
Odds are you have visited or will visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as it is the most visited National Park in the USA. In the GSM Park, The Alum Cave trail up to Mount LeConte is unmatched in it's panoramic views and unique features. 11 miles long and strenuous, this is also a lot less crowded than other areas like Clingman's Dome. This hike is a great way to really get a feel for the Smokies!
1. rim to rim- GRAND CANYON, ARIZONA
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
Teddy Roosevelt said the Grand Canyon is "...one great sight which every American should see." Could you imagine descending into this mammoth and then ascending victoriously from the other side?
Just shy of 24 miles long, this one is going to take a few days.
Most people go down from the North Kaibab Trail and up the Bright Angel Trail. The experience of travelling into this massive tear in the earth would shatter the rest of the bucket list and leave you with that memory (and the leg strength) for a lifetime. Another really cool option would be to hike down and up one side and then the other on two separate days. So you could have the experience of going to the bottom on each side but not have to camp. But you'd be SERIOUSLY missing out :)
Jon and May
We're the founders of Kadziat Outfitters and we're adventurers at heart. When they're not taking care of our dogs and cats, we're running this company and/or hiking and camping in a National Park somewhere. Backcountry camping, scrambling and the occasional rock climb are some of our favorites!