With 59 national parks and over 10,000 state parks, the U.S. is full of mountains, prairies, woods and water that make for some fantastic hiking trails. With most of us cooped up in our homes during a global pandemic, a nice, long hike has never sounded better. Spending time in nature can reduce stress and increase endorphins, along with the obvious benefits of exercise and Vitamin D exposure.
With over 193,500 miles of trail, where should you begin? Here are the perfect places to start.
Alum Cave Trail – Gatlinburg Tennessee
- Summertime hike
- 10.3 miles
Take the Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte. Just over 10 miles of shaded forest, refreshing streams, and wild rhododendron.
Kalalau Trail – Hanalei, Hawaii
- Coastal Hike
- 20+ miles
We know a 20-mile hike is a lot, but the views are worth it. Just think – Jurassic Park was filmed here in 1993, making your hike feel equally epic. The trail leads you through the abundant vegetation of Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. You’ll be trekking through beachfront jungle that is both enjoyable and challenging. The unreal views of the Pacific will make it all worth your while.
The Beehive Loop Trail – Bar Harbor, Maine
- Short Hike
- 1.3 miles
Okay now that we’ve looked at a mega-long hike, let’s switch to something shorter. Just because it’s shorter in length doesn’t mean the Beehive Loop Trail lags in scenery. This trail will lead you through the stunning Acadia National Park in Maine. It packs a ton of spectacular views in its 1.3 miles. The course is steep and even has the occasional scaling ladder and iron bar to assist you. Once you reach the peak, there are views of Sand Beach and the nearby Gulf of Maine.
Trail of 10 Falls - Silverton, Oregon
- Hidden Gem
- 7-mile loop
Silverton is filled with diverse flora and fauna, but skips the coastal views. On this trail you’ll find a lush loop with many waterfalls over 150-feet high. Some you are even able to walk behind.
Devil’s Bridge Trail – Sedona, Arizona
- Desert Hike
- 4.4 miles
Located in Coconino National Forest, this trail will lead you through wildflower hills while also showcasing Sedona’s signature sandstone formations. Make sure to hit the trail early to miss the crowds and the heat. Seeing the rock formations at sunrise is quite special.
Pyramid Point Trail – Sleeping Bear Dunes, Michigan
- Family Hike
- 2.7 miles
This oceanside hike is located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and offers sandy bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan. This trail is only 2.7 miles round-trip, making it the perfect length for some family fun. You’ll see diverse surroundings, including maple-beech forest, meadows, tall cliffs and steep inclines.
Half Dome Trail – Mariposa, California
- Intense Hike
- 16 miles
We’re back on our long hike trend. Half Dome Trail is not only longer, but also challenging, making it the perfect route for an experienced hiker. You’ll ascend over 5,500 feet, giving you some breathtaking views of Yosemite National Park.
Burroughs Mountain Trail – Mount Rainer National Park, Washington
- Mountain Hike
- 5.4 or 9.4 miles
Mount Rainer is one of the most epic mountains in Washington State and this hike gives you an unimpeded view of it. It also delivers spectacular vistas throughout, including appearances from Shadow Lake, Frozen Lake, White River and Emmons Glacier. You can opt for the longer 9.4-mile loop or cut it short with the 5.4-mile version. The longer trail will take you to Third Burroughs Mountain.
Kesugi Ridge Trail – Talkeetna, Alaska
- Backpacking Hike
- 29 miles
With a grueling 29-miles of trail, the Kesugi Ridge Trail is saved for die-hard hikers. Located two hours north of Anchorage, it is less accessible than some of the other trails above. This 3-4 day journey should be taken in the warmer weather.
Angel’s Landing Trail – Hurricane, Utah
- Scenic Hike
- 4.4 miles
Zion National Park, must we say more? Zion has blown up in recent years, making it a popular travel destination. One of the most epic hikes in the park is Angel’s Landing Trail, with a bird’s-eye view of sandstone canyon. Beware – the ascent is steep and narrow, making it optimal for those not afraid of heights.