Best Hikes in the USA: 15 Stunning Trails You Cannot Miss

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The USA is a hiking mecca because this vast country is brimming with national parks and wilderness that just begs to be explored. There’s a huge variety of hiking trails across the nation, and every state can claim to have some of the best hikes in the USA.

You can enjoy simple day hikes in the national parks to popular sights such as the Tall Trees of California or the hot springs of Yosemite.

You can even take things up a notch and challenge yourself to epic multi-day treks that will literally take you across the entire length of the county, from north to south. 

To inspire your next adventure, here are the best hikes in the USA. 

15 of the Best Hikes in the USA

1. Appalachian Trail 

America's Adventure Couple Lina and David Stock Hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Lina and David Stock hiking the Appalachian Trail in SWV.

The Appalachian Trail is legendary amongst hardcore hikers because this huge long-distance route takes you for 2200 miles through some of the most isolated, yet beautiful mountains on the east coast. 

Hikers will usually start in the south, where the trail begins at Springer Mountain in Georgia. The trail doesn’t end until you reach Mount Katahdin in the state of Maine, far, far north. 

You’ll need to be experienced and prepared to hike the entire trail, and it will take you most of the hiking season, from spring until autumn to accomplish that feat. 

If you’re short on time though, then you can hike smaller sections of the Appalachian over multiple days, and it will be spectacular. You just won’t have the same bragging rights! 

2. Pacific Crest Trail 

Pacific Crest Trail in California
The PCT offers amazing views of the west coast.

The Pacific Crest Trail is another epic, long-distance hike that’s become famous on the west coast of the USA.

It’s one of the best hikes in the USA but it’s also one of the longest and one of the toughest. The PCT rivals the Appalachian Trail for long-distance prestige, as it stretches from the Mexican border in the south right up to the Canadian border in the north. 

It’s a total distance of 2653 miles, and it will take you most of the hiking season to actually complete it.

You also need to undertake not just training, but planning, because you’ll need to factor in the weather conditions in the mountains and your resupply points. It’s a mammoth journey and one that very few people will complete in its entirety.

3. Continental Divide Trail 

Continental Divide Trail
Continental Divide Trail at Rocky Mountains National Park, Colorado

Lesser known than both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail is the equally epic Continental Divide Trail. 

This huge trail also runs from the Canadian border to the Mexican border, but it cuts right through the middle of the country. 

It will take you for 3100 miles, following the Rocky Mountains that form the continental divide. 

If you can hike all three of these mega long-distance walking routes then you’ll be amongst the select few who can claim what’s known as the Triple Crown of hiking routes in the USA. 

4. Tonto Trail

Lina Stock of the Divergent Travelers at the Grand Canyon.
The Tonto Trail journey will lead you to great views and backcountry campsites.

If you’re looking for a shorter but no less iconic route, then why not try the spectacular Tonto Trail? 

This 70-mile hiking trail takes you along the southern edge of the Grand Canyon, and you’ll be able to witness some of Arizona’s most jaw-dropping scenery along the way. 

It’s beautiful but the conditions are challenging and you’ll need to plan your trip to ensure that you have adequate water and the ability to treat any water en route because heat and dehydration are the biggest danger on the Tonto Trail. 

You’ll need to be totally self-sufficient, and you’ll need to arrange permits in advance to camp out in the designated areas within Grand Canyon National Park.

5. Kalalau Trail 

Kalalau Trail in Hawaii
Hawaii’s finest coastal hiking trail.

Some of the best hikes in the USA can be found in Hawaii, which offers a huge range of opportunities, from tramping through jungles to scaling volcanoes. 

One of the best hikes in Hawaii is the Kalalau Trail, which runs along the northern shore of Kauai for just 11 miles in total length.

It’s short but it’s staggeringly beautiful, and you’ll have to factor in that this is actually 22 miles because you need to make a round trip. Most hikers will camp out for at least one night, but make sure you have the correct permits.

The route takes you along beaches and past waterfalls, through wide valleys and along cliffs, and there’s not a dull moment on the trail. 

6. Diamond Head Trail 

Diamond Head Trail on Oahu
Diamond Head Trail offers breathtaking views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean. A must-do while in Hawaii.

Another spectacular hike in Hawaii is the popular Diamond Head Trail. Located on Oahu, Diamond Head is an extinct volcano that literally looms right over the city of Honolulu.

It’s a steep uphill slog, but there are actually staircases for the worst inclines, and although it looks like a daunting hike, many hikers will be at the summit in just half an hour.

The views are absolutely incredible, as you’ll be several hundred meters above sea level. 

7. Climbing Denali 

Denali Alaska
Alaska’s awe-inspiring wilderness.

If you really want to conquer North America, then one of the biggest challenges is the hike and climb to the summit of Denali. 

Found within Denali National Park, not too far from Anchorage in Alaska, this is the tallest mountain in North America. 

Standing at just over 6000 meters in height, this isn’t just a hike but a real challenge, both mental and physical. You’ll need training, experience, and local expertise to get to the top of this trail! 

8. Kesugi Ridge Trail 

Lina and David Stock (America's Adventure Couple) Heli Hiking in Denali National Park
Denali National Park has some of Alaska’s finest hikes

If you want to explore the best of Denali National Park but aren’t quite up for summiting the mountain itself, then the Kesugi Ridge Trail is one of the best hikes in the USA.

The Kesugi Ridge Trail offers exceptional views of Denali, and at 36 miles in length, it’s pleasant enough to split up over just a few days. 

You’ll see a wild side of the USA, as you hike through undulating pastures and along rivers and creeks. 

9. The Long Trail 

David Stock Jr Hiking one of the best hiking trails in the USA.
The best time to hike the Long Trail is between June and October.

One of the best hikes in the USA is the Long Trail, which, true to its name, is a long-distance hiking trail that covers the entire length of the state of Vermont. 

In fact, the Long Trail has the historic distinction of being the oldest established hiking trail in the USA, because it was first marked out as early as 1910, by pioneers of the trail system that now connects much of the country. 

It’s 273 miles long and it will take you through not just the best of Vermont, but all of Vermont! 

10. Tall Trees Grove Trail

David Stock Jr of Divergent Travelers Adventure Travel Blog standing next to a tall redwood tree.
Some of the tallest trees in the world can be found in the aptly named Tall Trees Grove in Redwood National Park

A beautiful hike in California to try is the Tall Trees Grove Trail, which is found within Redwood National Park.

Again, the name leaves little to the imagination here, and you’ll be hiking for 3 miles through the dense Redwood forests of this iconic national park. 

It’s short, but you’ll be in awe of the sheer height of what are the world’s tallest trees for the entire length of the trail. 

11. Grinnell Glacier 

Glacier National Park in Montana
The hike to Grinnell Glacier is one of Glacier National Park’s most beautiful hikes.

In the state of Montana, there are endless opportunities for hiking, but none more so than within the beautiful confines of Glacier National Park.

Of course, the National Park is named for its glaciers, and one of the best hikes here is the walk to Grinnell Glacier.

A 6 miles, each way, the trail will bring you to the edge of the glacier, where you’ll have sweeping views over this natural attraction.

It will take you most of the day there and back because the altitude is significant and you’ll be going up and down a lot. 

12. Mammoth Hot Springs 

Mammoth Hot Springs
Mammoth Hot Springs are a must-see feature of Yellowstone National Park.

If you’d rather warm up than cool down at a glacier, then take a trip to Yellowstone National Park, where you’ll find the iconic Mammoth Hot Springs

This is a unique area of geothermal activity, and a short hiking trail leads through the bubbling and boiling calderas that are spread across Yosemite.

It’s one of the best hikes in the USA because it’s one of the most unusual landscapes that you’ll find anywhere in the country. 

13. Half Dome Trail 

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
If you plan to hike Half Dome, you must have a permit. For day hikers, permits are available by lottery in March.

The Half Dome is one of the USA’s most recognizable natural features, and this giant mound of rock is also found in the heart of Yosemite National Park.

It’s a tough hike, and you’ll need a whole day to tackle the roughly 14-mile trail there and back, especially as you’ll be gaining over 6561 feet (2000 meters) in elevation, and quickly.

14. The Narrows Trail

The Narrows Trail
A hike through The Narrows requires hiking in the Virgin River.

Located amongst the otherworldly landscapes of Zion National Park, in Utah, the Narrows Trail is quite literally the narrowest section of Zion Canyon

You’ll be able to walk through the canyon, as the rocks seem to cave in around you. Be prepared to get wet, as the trail actually follows the course of the river and you might need to go waist deep, depending on the water level. 

15. The Wonderland Trail 

The Wonderland Trail
While hiking the Wonderland Trail it reveals glaciers, cascading waterfalls and sub-
alpine meadows.

Another of the best hikes in the USA, is the multi-day Wonderland Trail, a trail with the most delightful name in the trail network. 

The Wonderland trail takes hikers through 93 miles of the most outstanding terrain and scenery within Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State. 

Short Guide to the Best Hikes in the USA By Americas Adventure Couple The Divergent Travelers

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of the great trails worth hiking in the USA. We encourage you to share some of your favorite trails in the comments below!

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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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