There is a reason we have an entire day dedicated to celebrating the exquisite landscape of earth. The United States alone is filled with 58 national parks, over 6,000 state parks, and thousands upon thousands of hiking trails that all boast our country’s beauty. So how can you decide which one to venture off to?
We have rounded up the top 7 hiking trails in the US to make this decision a little easier for you.
1. MIST TRAIL
WHERE: Yosemite National Park, California
DISTANCE: 3 Miles
WHY: The Mist Trail weaves alongside two waterfalls, the Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall (hence the name “mist”). This trail begins with a bridge overlook, progresses into two waterfalls, and finishes with a view of Nevada Fall, Liberty Cap, and the Half Dome. With the sublime scenery, it is likely that you’ll get a little wet while walking this trail. It’ll get crowded during peak season, so I would recommend going in either the early morning or late afternoon.
2. HARDING ICEFIELD TRAIL
WHERE: Kenai Fjords Nationals Park, Alaska
DISTANCE: 4 Miles
WHY: Alaska itself is a breathtaking state, but this national park even goes beyond that. While on hiking this trail, you’ll feel like you’re living in one of the Ice Age movies. At the start of this 4-mile hike, the greenery is really exposed. You’ll witness countless spruce trees and high alpine meadows that bloom during the Alaskan summer. Once you reach the part of the trail that rises above the tree-line, there is a fantastic lookout over the Harding Icefield. This view will get you up close and personal with over 40 of Alaska’s most famous glaciers that span over 300 miles.
3. SOUTH KAIBAB TRAIL
WHERE: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
DISTANCE: 7.1 Miles
WHY: The National Park Service states that this trail is the only one in the Grand Canyon that, “dramatically holds true to a ridgeline descent.” During this hike, there are panoramic views of the Grand Canyon that are incomparable to anywhere else in the park. You’ll be exposed to the great vastness of the canyon. This hike is completely bare, making it very harsh in the summer months with the sun beaming directly down on you.
4. HOH RIVER TRAIL
WHERE: Olympic National Park, Washington State
DISTANCE: 17.4 Miles
WHY: The Olympic National Park is a temperate rainforest, filled with evergreen vegetation and trees, subalpine meadows, and vast wildlife. The Hoh Rainforest and the associated Hoh River trail is best part of the park, boasting fantastic views of Mount Olympus and the Blue Glacier. The hike is a whopping 17 miles, where the first 13 miles are flat which then progresses into a steep hike to the Glacier Meadows. The best season to journey here is late June through September.
5. RUBICON TRAIL
WHERE: Lake Tahoe, California
DISTANCE: 8 Miles
WHY: Lake Tahoe is a well-known freshwater lake between both California and Nevada. Most people dream of traveling to Tahoe with the gorgeous contrast between the mountains and water. If this is your next planned vacation, be sure to visit the Rubicon Trail. Located in south Lake Tahoe, this 8-mile hike has some crazy views. You’ll witness rocky cliffs overlooking the crystal blue water and several beaches along the trail. Please note: the trail is only open to the public from March to September.
6. AWA’AWAPUHI TRAIL
WHERE: Koke’e State Park, Hawaii
DISTANCE: 6.7 Miles
WHY: The Awa’awapuhi trail will lead you through the rain forest, desert terrain, and some of the most break-taking coastal views. When you start the hike, you may wonder why this trail is ranked one of the top hikes, but about 3 miles in you will understand why. You’ll journey through a mixture of some steep cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean and grassy clearings that overlook the valleys.
7. ANGEL’S LANDING
WHERE: Zion National Park, Utah
DISTANCE: 2.4 MilesWHY: Zion is known for its canyon and the dramatic rock formations that will make you feel like you’re on Mars. The Angel’s Landing trail, specifically, is one of the most famous and magnificent hikes in the national park system. The trail is 2.4 miles, ultimately leading you to a 1,488-rock formation and 360-views of the park. Disclosure: this hike is for thrill seekers and thrill seekers only. You find yourself on a narrow rock fin with huge drop-offs on either side at a point in the hike.