The United States is one pretty diverse and vast country to visit… and you know what, that’s what makes it so special. It has a huge mix of the best hikes in the USA that are dotted all across the country.
From the eastern rugged shorelines to the rolling great plains, there’s a huge mix of different landscapes and climates that make for some of the best hikes in the USA. Best of all, it doesn’t matter if you’re an avid hiker, a pro or just fancy a little stroll – I guarantee you’ll find a huge range of trails that are perfect to explore.
That’s why I wanted to share some of my best hikes in the USA to experience during your trip. Now, I’ve tried to share some of my favourites across the states so you should find at least one that’s relatively close (and for all abilities).
Take a look below at some of my firm favourites.
1.) Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
One of the best hikes in the USA has to be the Burroughs Mountain Trail in Mount Rainer National Park. Around a nine miles roundtrip, this is a fairly strenuous hiking trail that can be pretty tough on the legs! Thankfully, you’re rewarded with some of the best views on this trail, which is flanked by dramatic glaciers and loads of scenic spots.
Best of all, the summit of this trail is the highest point accessible by foot in the entire park, giving you views for days. One thing to remember is to make sure you stick on the trail and check local conditions before you head out. In the early season, there can be huge snow drifts that can be pretty dangerous.
And just so your familiar, check out the whole route from the National Parks Service.
2.) Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
Perched at the highest point in Maui, Haleakalā National Park is one stunning place to hike, especially around sunrise or sunset. Now, I haven’t done the sunrise hike myself but the sunset hike is out-of-this-world! Honestly, It offers one of the best sunsets I’ve seen in the longest time… all seen from above the clouds. It really is one of the best hikes in the USA to experience.
Now, if you’re planning on going on this hike, make sure you’re well prepared with plenty of fluids and lots of layers. The range in temperatures is quite unreal.
3.) Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
The upper hawksbill trail in Shenandoah National Park is one of the best hikes in the USA if you’re wanting a challenge but not something so strenuous you need to train for.
A pretty moderate hike, it’s only around a two miles roundtrip that’s quite easy to complete in a morning. Best of all, It brings you to the summit of the highest point in the entire park, where you will experience breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley.
While you need only allow about two hours to complete the hike, be sure to leave plenty of extra time, as you will want to linger at the summit, soaking in the views or picnicking in the stone hut.
Afterwards, pop over to Fishers Gap Overlook for some gorgeous views around half a mile away.
4.) Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
The Navajo Loop Trail is a short, fairly easy walk that is just under two miles round trip. This makes it a perfect, family-friendly hike where you get to explore the gorgeous desert scenery that makes up this area.
Home of the hoodoos (also known as fairy chimneys), they are towering rock formations that rise into the skies and make for a stunning place to see. It really is one of the best hikes in the USA, especially if you want to explore the desert climate.
Honestly, the whole national park just feels like another world where time just flies on by. Trust me, before you know it you’ll be ready for dinner! If the tummy rumbles do get the better of you, stop off at the Stone Hearth Grille. Start with the grilled artichoke before enjoying the roasted poblano relleno that’ll fill you right up.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a slightly longer hike, make sure to include the Queens Garden Trail too.
5.) Glacier National Park, Montana
The Highline Trails is one of the best hikes in the USA for anyone visiting the Glacier National Park. Now, I know I sound like a Geography teacher but it has got some proper amazing walks along the Continental Divide.
Beginning in Logan Pass and ending at the Granite Park Chalet, the 7.5-mile trail is mostly flat and fairly mild in pace. Which is great if you don’t want a back-breaking hike.
Along the way, you’ll pass by the infamous garden wall, which is best experienced in the spring and early summer when the explosion of wildflowers is at its peak. Trust me when I say, there is lots of wildlife in this area. Keep your eyes peeled for the bighorn sheep and mountain goats, but be sure to hike in groups and follow precautions, as this is also grizzly bear territory!
6.) Yosemite National Park, California
The Mist Trail is perhaps the most famous and arguably one of the best hikes in the USA to experience.
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to stroll amongst towering ancient redwood trees and to experience Vernal and Nevada Falls, both of which are so epic to see. Now, the hike itself involves a moderate ascent up a set of stone stairs which can become quite slippery in wet or cold conditions, so be sure to wear proper footwear and use the handrails that are provided. Honestly, no-one likes a careless hiker.
If the Mist Trail isn’t your thing, Yosemite National Park has a heap of other hikes for every ability. I remember heading onto the trails for about 9 hours rambling around the park… it’s just so beautiful and the trails are so varied. There’s even one that scales up the face of the infamous Half Dome. If that’s what you’re wanting to do, make sure you apply for a permit to hike well in advance.
If you are spending a few days exploring, check into Tenaya Lodge which is within the National Park itself and the perfect place to rest those weary legs.
7.) Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming
The Cascade Canyon Trail is is a fairly challenging loop trail that spans approximately fourteen miles. The length alone means that you should be well prepared but it’s well worth it as if really is up there as one of the best hikes in the USA to complete.
Along the way, you’ll see some of the most famous spots in the park, including; hidden falls, and striking views of the Teton Mountain Range, which is dominated by the Grand Teton that rises over 4,000 meters. Honestly, the first time I saw this my jaw just dropped. It’s huge!
Now, whilst on the trail itself, you will both begin and end at Jenny Lake, which is arguably one of the most beautiful lakes in the National Park.
After a long hike, be sure to spend some time in the town of Jackson Hole, located in the Teton Valley. I stopped overnight here and there’s plenty of places to stay and gorge at (like Liberty Burger).
Oh, and make sure you sample a cocktail sitting astride an authentic saddle at the infamous Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
8.) Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
Porter’s Creek is one of those hikes that’s a little bit of a challenge if you’re a beginner hiker (but well worth it). Being a moderately paced hike that spans four miles, the springtime is the ideal time for making this trek, as you will be surrounded by a blanket of gorgeous wildflowers that make this landscape so pretty.
Oh, and there are a few historical landmarks sprinkled on this trail that are well worth spotting, including the Ownby Cemetery and the site of the former John Messner farm.
9.) Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is one of the most popular national parks, with the South Kaibab Trail being one of the best hikes in the USA. Along the way, you’ll pass the dramatic ridgeline descent with incredible views of the magnificent canyon and even spot some of the local wildlife.
Though, one thing to note, if you are afraid of heights, you may want to avoid this trail. In certain parts, the birds-eye view of the rushing river hundreds of feet below can be quite discomforting.
After all that hiking, stop at the Bright Angels Bicycles and Café at Mather Point for a selection of gourmet sandwiches that can be consumed on site or packed up for a tasty picnic later on.
10.) Zion National Park, Utah
Angel’s Landing is a five-mile hike that is so dramatic to experience. Here, you will visit the impressive rock formation spanning 1,500 feet which is the namesake of the hike itself.
The view from Angel’s Landing is absolutely spectacular and easily makes this one of the best hikes in the USA… well, in my opinion at least. Along the way, you’ll get to see some of Zion’s 250-million-year-old rock layers and dramatic geology. Oh, and don’t forget the steep drop off that can make this a pretty scary hike at times.
If you need more information on where and how to hike this trail, check out the Utah parks website.
11.) Acadia National Park, Maine
Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain on the entire North Atlantic. This alone makes it one of the regions for the best hikes in the USA to experience.
I’ve heard lots of people say that the sunrises here the most beautiful in the world, so if you plan on participating in the early morning viewing, be sure to get an early start, as space fills up quickly up at the top!
Now, if the hike itself fills you with dread, you can actually drive up to the top of Cadillac Mountain itself. But if you do choose the Cadillac Mountain North Ridge Trail, you can reach the summit in about 2-3 hours, with the same time needed for descent.
Oh, and after a day of hiking, be sure to stop by Bar Harbor, one of the most idyllic towns in all of New England. Here, you can feast on a traditional lobster dinner at Stewman’s Lobster Pound that’s situated right in the heart of the town.
12.) Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail in Yellowstone National Park is a relatively easy hike/ramble that I totally loved on my trip to Yellowstone.
It’s not the hardest hike in the world but definitely up there as one of the best hikes in the USA to experience for the views. Especially when you’re so close to the largest hot spring in all of the USA. Once at the trailhead, walk around 1-mile on the overlook trail and take in the views from the right-hand side of the walk.
The walk is pretty easy and suitable for most hikers. Honestly, Yellowstone is breathtaking and after hiking in the national park, I’m already itching to go back and explore so much more.