Editors' Picks: Our 9 Favorite Hiking Trails in America!
Grab a water bottle, dress in layers, and tie on your boots, it's time to hit the trails. But where? With so many great hiking options available here in the United States, it can be hard to choose just one. To help fix that problem, this list features some of America's best hiking trails. What are you waiting for? Adventure is out there!
The Appalachian Trail is perhaps the most widely known trail in the entire country. Taking hikers all the way from northern Georgia up to central Maine, portions of the trail are visited by thousands of hikers from across the world every year. The 100 Mile Wilderness is the last stretch through Maine, and also happens to be the longest stretch with no paved sections. For a shorter hike, the 30 Mile Wilderness at the beginning has some of the most scenic sections and is popular in its own right.
Named for the pioneering naturalist, some of the most beautiful scenery to be found in Yosemite can be seen while hiking this trail. The John Muir Trail makes up 210 miles of the even larger Pacific Crest Trail, which links every state on the West Coast. Mountains soar along this trail, and deep blue lakes reflect perfect skies. Every mile of the trail has amazing, unforgettable scenery, so don't feel the need to take on the whole trail at once.
Part of the prestigious "Triple Crown of Hiking," the Continental Divide Trail is one of the famous North/South trails that define American hiking along with the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. The Continental Divide is a strenuous, mountainous route, and parts of it are incomplete, which means it is most popular with experienced hikers who don't mind a little bit of trailblazing. The views along the way, however, are spectacular, and made better by the sense of exploration.
The Long Trail runs the length of the state of Vermont, and is the oldest long distance trail in the United States. The classic trail takes hikers through the Green Mountains and classic New England towns where the popular beer that takes its name from the trail can be easily found. Along the 272 miles of the trail are sections of varying difficulty and scenes of great beauty.
Ranked as the #1 Best Day Hiking location in a national park by National Geographic Magazine, the Rim Trail is both accessible and stunning. Walking along the rim of this unique natural treasure does not involve particularly strenuous trails, but the view can still get your heart pumping. As long as you bring enough water, this hike is no challenge.
If you don't mind some sand in your shoes, there's no place to hike quite like the 30 square miles of sand dunes that give this park its name. The entire area is designated wilderness, which makes it great for camping or just a day trip. The park recommends hiking in the evening or early morning, as temperatures above 105 degrees Farenheit are Common. If the heat proves to be too much, alpine and shaded trails in other parts of the park provide relief.
This 36-mile trail may not be particularly challenging to experienced hikers, but it offers the chance to explore an interesting and historic section of Pennsylvania. Formerly part of the now defunct Cambria and Black Lick railroad, the trail runs past what remains of once bustling mining towns that provided coal and other raw materials to steel mills in Pittsburgh.
Seasoned hikers won't find much of a challenge on this 7.5 mile trail that loops around the largest Freshwater pond in the state of Delaware. Several bridges span gaps, and trail markers point out some of the natural vegetation of the region. The Swamp Forest Trail is the perfect way to while away an afternoon with a low impact nature hike.
Take the low road at this scenic gorgeous park nestled in a series of canyons that lead out to the Illinois River. The entire trail network itself is only 12.5 miles, but the twists and turns offer a wide array of views on unique rock formations. Starved Rock is also just one of several areas to explore in the region, other Illinois state parks can be reached by determined hikers looking for a bigger challenge.