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Lisa Adams Jennings

Best U.S. Hiking Trip Destinations

Best U.S. Hiking Trip Destinations

From plunging gorges to sweeping vistas and ancient forests, one thing’s certain: the U.S. is blessed with mind-blowing hiking locations. These places offer a chance to enjoy nature thanks to their unique blend of scenic views and the right amount of difficulty.

Furthermore, its vast nature means there’s something in store for every hiker. The scenic hiking trails mentioned below will make for a memorable adventure, whether you’re a pro or just looking to stroll out in the woods.

 1The Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is top of this list of popular hiking areas in the U.S.  The trail covers 2,190 miles and stretches from Georgia to the middle of Maine. It runs along the spine of the Appalachian Mountains and passes through 14 states, making it a favorite with pro hikers.

Its terrain difficulty varies from place to place, with the trail spending much of its time in deciduous forests. We love this trail because it has plenty of day and section hike options along its entire length. Every year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.

A thru-hike is an attempt to hike an entire trail in one push. For such attempts, you’ll note that the mental challenges can easily surpass the physical ones. If you don’t want to do a thru-hike, consider going on a day, section, or weekend hike.


  • Variety of hiking terrain and difficulty
  • Potential for a complete thru-hike, day hike, or section hike
  • Accessible along large sections of the East Coast


  • Shuttles required for section hikes
  • Certain sections are too crowded


2.  Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon attracts thousands of visitors from all corners of the world each year. However, not all of them get to leave its rim. For some, standing at its precipice is enough to quench their thirst for adventure.

Then again, there are the avid hikers whose idea of the best hiking trips involves descending and ascending the trickiest trails they can find. If this is you, the Bright Angel Trail is the most preferred way to descend the Grand Canyon, from its South Rim to the Colorado River.

After making your way to the river, you can hike back the same way you descended or back to the top via the South Kaibab Trail. Whichever option you choose, note one thing – the hike will plunge you 4,000’ from the South Rim to the river.

  • Epic scenery
  • Plenty of information on viable routes
  • Easy travel and hospitality
  • Challenging terrain
  • Conditions are dry all year round


 3.  Yosemite National Park

The Yosemite National Park has everything from multi-day high-country expeditions to paved strokes. Its 3,000’ granite walls will begin to dominate the skyline when you enter its valley. Yosemite’s popularity rose in the 1970s; today, it boasts over four million visitors annually.

Regarding hiking destinations, Yosemite National Park has varied terrain ranges that include conifer and deciduous forests, granite peaks, and open meadows. It has everything you’d ever want in hiking destinations.

Before you hike it, make sure to visit it a few times to plan your routes. Also, you may need to apply for a backcountry permit if you intend to hike it overnight. Pro hikers ensure you have a backup plan before heading to Yosemite for a backcountry trip.


  • Spectacular high country
  • Reliable shuttle system for backcountry trailhead access
  • Variety of hikes for both pros and beginners


  • Wildlife season can affect routes
  • Valley is crowded over the summer


 4.  Big Sur

With proper planning, you can easily pack multi-day trails into a single day in Big Sur, making it one of the best hiking destinations in the U.S. Choose a few sections with varying lengths and terrains to ensure you’ll get the most out of your hike.

For example, the Lime Kiln Trails are winding trails that will see you going through the towering redwood forests. The McWay Waterfall Trail, on the other hand, will take you less than a mile to arrive at a waterfall.

Both these trails highlight the diverse nature of the Big Sur ecosystem. Other available trails include the Salmon Creek Falls, the Buckeye Trails, and the Cone Peak Trail (currently closed). Each trail has its challenges and scenic offerings.

  • Well-marked, moderate trail
  • Year-round hikes
  • Redwood forests and oceanfront views
  • Some sections are highly populated
  • Trails are on the short side

5.  Superior Hiking Trail

This is one of the most popular hiking areas in the country. It’s loved by hikers looking for a forgiving hike, moderate terrain, and easy access. You may also find it appealing if you desire to complete a short thru-hike.

Hikers who opt for a “short” thru-hike can complete the entire trail in three to four weeks. The thru-hike will see them traverse through sections of old-growth forests. The Superior Hiking Trail starts at Jay Cooke Park and stretches to the Canadian border.

Please note that the northern part runs from Duluth to the border and is ideal for a thru-hike plus camping. The southern part, which is only open for day hikes, runs from the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to Duluth.


  • Lush, old-grown forest
  • Many options for short hikes
  • Moderate terrain


  • The terrain isn’t varied
  • Bugs can prove bothersome depending on the time of year

 6.  Bear Mountain

 If you’re looking for a weekend hike location, look no further than Bear Mountain State Park. It lies just over one hour’s drive from New York City, making it an excellent option for weekend hikes. It’s also ideal for hikers who don’t want to commit too much of their time to travel.

The Bear Mountain State Park sits on 5,000 acres and has year-round recreational activities like cross-country skiing and skating. And this is not forgetting its easily accessible hiking trails. The trails are ergonomic and adequately maintained.

Bear Mountain is a perfect spot for the entire family. If the kids are too young or uninterested in the hike, you have other options, such as taking a scenic drive or visiting the zoo. Those who want to hike will have more than 200 trails to choose from at the park.


  • Plenty of challenging trails, all within proximity of one another
  • Popular with families
  • A short drive from NYC


  • The parking lot is at the mountain top, making it a buzzkill
  • It can be overcrowded at times


7.  Sedona

Are you looking to learn about winter hiking trips? Make sure to research the red rock paradise of Sedona. The outings taken here tend to feel less like hikes and more like playing rock scrambles. These scrambles lead to expansive overlooks, flat-topped mesas, and deep canyons.

On your hike, bring plenty of drinking water and keep your eyes peeled to avoid getting lost. There are lots of landmarks all over the place without defined trails. Moreover, the landscape in Sedona is surprisingly lush for a desert.

Make your way to Bell Rock and Fay Canyon to find the most rewarding hikes for people with different abilities. If these trails appear too populated for your liking, move on, as other trails will get you the adventure you want in five miles or less.


  • Exciting, varied landscape
  • Rewarding hikes for short distances
  • Winter hikes are possible


  • Summer months are too hot
  • Parking may prove challenging


 8.  Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

The Grand Staircase in Southern Utah is one of the most renowned hiking destinations. Its name is from the immense “staircase-like formations” displaying years of geological history. This national monument initially sat on two million acres during its designation in 1996.
However, this changed in 2017 as its size significantly reduced following a controversial presidential proclamation. Despite this, it has retained winding trails that crisscross sandstone, desert floors, and canyons.

The Grand Staircase has lots of options, including day hikes and overnights. Hikers have easy access to camping sites, making it a top choice for people looking to get off the beaten path. Popular attractions in the area include the Coyote Gulch and the Escalante Canyon.


  • Moderate grades
  • Wide variety of terrain


  • Hard to find water sources during the summer


The diversity of available day, sectional, overnight, and thru-hikes is staggering. A well-thought-out hiking trip can take you through rainforests, deserts, and mountain ranges and trace thousands of miles across rugged coasts. It can offer a chance to witness nature’s greatest wonders.

In the list above, you’ll find eight of the best hiking destinations in the country today. Many are revered for their iconic appeal, and others are national monuments that attract visitors from across the country. Each location has something that attracts hikers to it.

If you are planning an adventure or a hiking trip, don’t forget to check out our great products at

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