To set foot on the wild terrains that there is no trace of civilization is more than just a hiking excursion. Instead, it is a mixture of physical endorsement, mental competence for solitude, and testing personal and survival instincts boundaries.
Some combine these aspects with a passion for sport, photography, or nature’s everlasting beauty. Whether to photograph dazzling landscapes, immerse in the remote wilderness of American terrains or even break your own personal record- here is a list of top 15 hikes across the United States.
Appalachian National Scenic Trail carries the title of the world’s longest footpath-only trail, covering 14 states of the eastern coasts. It boasts over 3500 kilometers of groomed footpaths and recreational facilities, all the way from Georgia to Maine. Although, it remains the most extensive hiking-only trail with no road/highway cutting through this lofty meander.
While the hike is renowned for its fantastic vistas- particularly viewpoints over highland valleys of Appalachian Ranges, dense and deep woodlands, meadowy passes, fruit arcades, and heritage sites. Facilitated with finely groomed passages, directive panels, and scenic campsites- the hike over the entire east coast takes about 5 to 8 months to complete.
Stretching over 1300 kilometers, Arizona Trail is named among the most scenic wilderness trails worldwide. From the north, it cuts across several mountain ranges and highlights as a premium the hikers and mountain bikers.
Further down, the trail crosses the heart of the world’s deepest and longest canyon, the Grand Canyon, the wild and scenic Colorado river, desert waterfalls, and lastly the extensive heath plains of the Mexican border. Bright Angel Trail particularly dominates the Canyon’s breathtaking viewpoints.
The scorching annual heat season divides Arizona’s hiking season into October-November and April-March periods. While the hike duration is about 4 to 6 weeks, the remote location and geographic characteristic of Arizona requires a well-rounded set of hiking gears.
The glamour of Rocky Mountains, vast magnificence of the Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific Oceans, warm southern shores, to iceberg-ridden northern coasts- the Trail of Continental Divide of America’s sears through the central states of the nation.
Extending from north to Alberta, Canada, and Mexico in the south, this 5000-kilometer long footpath offers one of the most diverse trails- in both culture and natural topography.
From the silver-bearing terrains of Chihuahua, arid sandstone slopes of New Mexico, the remote highlands of Colorado with strenuous paths, Wyoming’s scenic water-bodies and the hot springs of Yellowstone national park, to Arctic wonders of Jasper national park in BC- following the Continental Divide calls for avid hiking skills and equipment.
The hike is estimated around six months, considering an average speed for thru-hiking.
Embracing the essence of Sierra Nevada, Tahoe Rim Trail loops around Lake Tahoe Basin and the skirting slopes of Carson Range. Spanning over 275 kilometers of spectacular landscapes, completing the hike requires 15 days of thru-hiking.
Tahoe Rim is divided into eight sections, each designated as an official trailhead and basic recreational amenities. Named as North Carolina’s most scenic terrain, the trail hosts several recreational activities throughout the year. Biking, horseback tours, bird watching around the alpine lakes and prairies, and even motorized sections for dirt and Quad bikers- only to name a few.
Most of the trail regions are open for public viewing. Exploring the ridge-grown woodlands, wildflower meadows, deep glacier-carved valleys, and small charming settlements and the lake shores – expect for the Desolation Wilderness area that requires a permit registration beforehand.
Known for dark granite domes and trembling waterfalls, the Mist Trail crosses the rugged heart of Yosemite National Park. While the trail features the magnificent Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall and breathtaking vistas over sheer volcanic buffs, the circuit’s protagonist is the iconic Half Dome.
The park’s rugged topography conceals a wealth of nature, spotted along with the renowned Yosemite valley hikes. Late May to the beginning of fall is the best time to hike here, although Yosemite’s falls look the most dramatic amid the vibrant fall foliage in September.
Peering through the uncontaminated wilderness of Alaska, Kesugi Ridge Trail sits at the slopes of Mount Denali- North America’s loftiest peak.
Setting foot on this trail rewards the visitors with characteristic sceneries- the legendary wildlife, high valley terraces overlooking the massive crisscrosses of mountains, glaciated peaks, and alpine lakes resembling sapphire gems from far.
The trail runs over 56 kilometers, meandering between the highland prairies, alpine tundras, and occasionally ridge passes with massive boulders to cross. In summer, the barren tundras are embroidered with wildflower beds and the sight of Alaskan thriving wildlife.
Sided by recreational facilities, finely groomed passages crossing natural spectacles, and heritage townships- Buckeye Trail circuits around the state of Ohio. Through the entire 2320 kilometers of the hike, the trail features the most scenic nature and heritage of the Buckeye State.
From Cuyahoga Valley and its falls, parts of the Historic National Road in Ohio, and one of the five Great Lakes in North America- Lake Erie and its scenic canal- the route presents sophisticated recreation such as angling and pleasure boating along with the wilderness activities such as hikes, Equestrian, and biking.
Famed among the finest of long-distance trails worldwide, visiting Buckeye Trail is most pleasant during spring, summer, and late fall.
The badlands of Utah in the vicinity of Zion Canyon and its national park have long been a place of inspiration- for the indigenous tribes, photographers, recreationists, and nature enthusiasts. The sandstone ridges and barren river-bottomed valleys are streaked with hiking trails, with various difficulty levels.
Scenic hikes such as Lower Emerald Pool Trail and Pa’rus Trail are considerably easy, with groomed paths and facile accessibility. The untamed pathways of Kayenta Trail and Canyon Overlook Trail mark moderate hikes, while the most scenic vistas are promised only to experienced hikers.
The Angels Landing Trail crosses sheer and narrow ridges with panoramic vistas of the entire canyon and the famous boulder hop section, described as the Step of Faith. Another eminent trail of the valley sits by the riverside. Known as the Narrows Trail, it requires moving against the river stream and boulder-covered banks.
However, the trail is rather rewarding, leading to sapphire pools and a hidden desert oasis.
Enlisted as one of the national scenic trails, Potomac Heritage Trail links the region’s natural and historic heritage together. Eroded limestone gorges, crystalline rivers meandering along with the lush forests and rugged landscapes, trembling waterfalls dropping into turquoise lagoons- the trail is riddled with natural wonders.
When it comes to history, several heritage buildings and historic routes are marked along the trail, spanning from Virginia to Pennsylvania and Columbia.
The trail is well-known for its curated paths, direction panels, and many modern facilities near the trails. Several trailheads are connected with roads that lead to nearby townships, for a night of luxury and comfort at hotels and cozy restaurants.
Reaching from the north shores of the Long Island Sound of the Atlantic to the crest of the Metacomet Ridge New England Trail encompasses diverse landscapes.
It is named as one of the eleven National Scenic Trails, divided into three main trails with a pan of 375 kilometers; Metacomet-Monadnock Trail crisscrossing the Metacomet Ridges, the Blue-Blazed Mattabesett Trail, and point-to-point Metacomet Trail with lush woodlands. Sitting by the trailheads, a handful of historic villages and charming farmlands portray the cultural treasures of these regions.
With an array of rugged ridges, verdant forests, waterfalls, and fish-riddle streams, the hike is marked as moderate to hard. The fine temperatures and long days of summer are the best time for a delightful trekking extrusion.
Natchez Trace is the relic of a historic footpath, alongside the Natchez Trace Parkway. The trail covers from marshland habitat adorned with magnificent bird species, to grassy prairies and dense canopies of forests. The trail highlights include; Highland Rim section noted for its idyllic passages, Garrison Creek Trailhead for its icon benches, several horse trailer areas for the equestrian.
Numerous heritage sites are found along this scenic footpath, such as a Milepost as the War of 1812 Memorial and native American blue-blaze markings- dating back to the prehistorian indigenous tribes.
To complete the entire trail, it takes over a month of traversing the region’s natural and historical phenomenon.
Known to connect some of the most eye-gazing landscapes in North America, The Pacific Crest Trail stretches over 4200 kilometers of adventurous hikes and untamed nature. While this cross-country trail stretches from Mexico to Canada, the picturesque trail crosses remote landscapes, protected wilderness areas, and inhabited terrains.
It lines through the snow-capped peaks of Sierra Nevada, the alpine country of cascade mountains, countless glacier-fed lakes, and ending at the barren deserts of southern regions.
Considering the long pledge for this trail, hikers plan shorter excursions within trailhead sections; Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area of the cascade ranges, particularly the Enchantments Trail, lush forests of Sky Lakes Wilderness trails, and the steepest peaks in California at San Jacinto Peak Trails.
As one of the most jaw-dropping day’s hikes across the nation, the Rim Trail boasts the spectacular red-hoodoo country of Bryce National Park. The ridge to ridge walk traverses the distance between the famous Fairytale Viewpoint, to Bryce Point- named as the most dazzling hike of the park.
At a short hiking distance, the Hat Shop Trail is named after the seemingly hat-wearing hoodoos at the crimson heart of the canyon. Other trekkers’ landmarks are; the Fairytale Trail for panoramic views of the interesting red rock formations, Sunrise Point for the vistas of the rolling golden terrains, and the Queens Garden Trail with Thor’s Hammer and zigzagging hoodoo ridges.
From the heights of lushly forested ridges to the sabulous shores ringing crystalline waters- Muliwai Trail crosses the depths and heights of Waipio Valley. The vistas of Waimanu river bottoms, Waipio River sweeping into the ocean, thick rainforests housing the rare native wildlife, the colossal valley wall, and Hi’ilawe Falls- the trail is known as strenuous and extremely rewarding in vistas.
Apart from the authentic Hawaiian heritage charm in the vicinity, the trail is located in the remote parts of the Hawaiian archipelagos-noted for epic waterfalls and characteristic rainforests.
Noted among the most spectacular hikes across the globe, Sierra High Route is the key to a world of sparkling alpine lakes, outlandish barren tundras, and horizons of endless mountain summits. Rock climbing and boulder hopping is an essential part of hiking to the magnificent Sierra- although some sections offer relatively milder treks, usually around the glacial lakes and gentle meadow passes.
Divided into five sections, the amphitheater Valley of the Cirque Country is the most popular among landscape photographers. Spectacular rock formations at Mammoth Crest such as Devils Postpile, and Canyon Country ending at Yosemite’s granite wonders.
To accomplish the entire 375 kilometers of rugged wilderness on foot, hikers would require two to four weeks.
In addition to the list, here is an overview of two other scenic trails in the United States;
Following the lofty landforms of the Green Mountains, the Long trail marks the oldest long-distance footpath in the US. Lakes curated passages amid the dense forests, scenic rivers, and creek- the entire hike is facilitated with basic campsites, occasional campgrounds, and several natural and historic heritage sites.
Glacier National Park harbors some of the most dazzling vistas in the world; ice-carved fjord, bold granite buffs, wildflower meadows dotted with grazing wildlife- several hiking trails link the region’s outlandish wonders to visitors. The trailhead to Highline Trail sprawls at the proximity of the Going-to-the-Sun Road, illustrating the sheer cliffs of the continental divide- named as the Garden Wall.