50 Best Hikes In The US: Top Rated USA Hiking Trails

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Where Are Those Morgans best hikes in the US hiking the top bucket list trails in USA

The USA has thousands of scenic day hikes and epic long distance hikes carving through national parks, state parks, forests, deserts, volcanoes and mountain ranges. But there’s a collection of notable hiking trails in the US that stand out above the rest for being especially beautiful or uniquely adventurous.

In this guide, we show you 50 top rated hiking trails from around the US to add to your bucket list.

Our US Hiking Experience

Mark and Kristen Morgan from Where Are Those Morgans hiking Artists Bluff Trail in New Hampshire, USA
Mark and Kristen hiking in New Hampshire, USA

We’ve hiked some of the most amazing trails in more than 30 US states since we began traveling full time in 2018. Along with travel photography, hiking is our favorite thing to do anytime we go somewhere new in America. We usually plan our entire trips around hikes! Read more about us.

Over the last 6 years, we’ve personally completed many of the best US hiking trails listed in this guide including the likes of Angels Landing, The Wave, The Enchantments, Skyline Loop, The Narrows and South Kaibab to Bright Angel. Any trail in this list that we haven’t yet completed is on our own hiking wishlist.

About This Guide

We’ve rounded up the most beautiful, iconic and adventurous hikes in the US to help you create a bucket list filled with amazing trails from as many states as possible.

Hiking trails in this guide are based on our own experiences and ratings by previous hikers. The list is in alphabetical order but stick around until the end to see our personal top 10 USA hikes ranked!

Top US Hikes Mapped

Click the map below to activate. Zoom in and out, move around the map and find the locations of the 50 best hikes to visit in the USA included in this guide.

Map key:

  • Blue – Easy trails
  • Yellow – Moderate trails
  • Red – Strenuous trails
  • Purple – Extremely hard trails

1. Angels Landing Trail

Photo of a razor thin rocky climb to a viewpoint in a canyon
The razor thin climb to Angels Landing with sheer drops on both sides
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 2.7 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Springdale, UT
  • Season: Year round

The Angels Landing Trail is a technical 2.7 miles roundtrip hike in Zion National Park. It’s one of the most famous hikes in the US, with dramatic views over Zion Canyon, a razor thin climb with metal chains and long vertical drop-offs. A permit is required to climb from Scout Lookout to Angels Landing.

We’ve hiked Angels Landing twice. The first time was midday in October 2019 and the trail was packed full of hikers which made it a terrifying experience. So the second time we climbed to Angels Landing for sunrise in December and had the whole trail to ourselves. It’s a unique hike but it’s not for everyone!

Further Reading: How to hike Angels Landing Trail

2. Appalachian Trail

Stone post with metal sheet and engravings for directions
Hiking a section of the legendary Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah Virginia
  • Difficulty: Very strenuous
  • Distance: 2,198 miles
  • Elevation Gain: ~500,000 feet
  • Time: 5-7 months
  • Terminus: North-Katahdin, Maine | South-Springer Mountain, Georgia
  • Season: Year round

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a long distance hiking trail running from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. It takes around 5-7 months on average to hike 2,100 miles through 14 US states and complete this world famous trail.

Hiking the Appalachian Trail would test your physical and mental fortitude to the extreme. We’ve walked portions of the Appalachian Trail in Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia and in the Smokies. But taking on the entire trail would be the hike of a lifetime.

Read: Official Appalachian Trail website

3. Artists Bluff Trail

Where Are Those Morgans at the summit of Artists Bluff Trail NH one of the best fall foliage hikes in the US
Mark and Kristen at the summit of Artists Bluff Trail NH on a cloudy day in fall
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 0.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet
  • Time: 1.5-2 hours
  • Location: Franconia, NH
  • Season: Year round

The Artists Bluff Trail is a short but steep 0.5-mile roundtrip hike in Franconia Notch State Park in New Hampshire. The trail can be hiked as a standalone or as a loop with Bald Mountain. Artists Bluff summit viewpoint has striking views over Echo Lake and it’s one of the most famous fall foliage photo spots.

We’ve hiked to Artists Bluff twice on separate New England fall foliage road trip routes in 2019 and 2023. It’s one of the most rewarding easy trails you can do in New England, especially when combined with Bald Mountain which also has dramatic views. Add this trail to your US hiking bucket list.

Further Reading: How to hike Artists Bluff Trail

4. Black Elk Peak Trail

Couple holding onto a flagpole at the summit of a rocky trail on a clear day
Mark and Kristen at the summit of Black Elk Peak SD
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 7 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Location: Custer, SD
  • Season: Year round

Black Elk Peak summit is the highest point in South Dakota’s Black Hills at 7,242 feet. There are several routes leading to Black Elk Peak but the most popular route is to park at Sylvan Lake and take trail #9 up then trail #4 down. The summit provides views into South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Nebraska.

Hiking to Black Elk Peak was the best part of our first South Dakota road trip in October 2019. The trail is fun, family friendly and incredibly scenic. Don’t miss this hike when you visit the Black Hills and go at the beginning of October to see golden leaves mixing with emerald greens and granite grey rocks.

Further Reading: How to hike Black Elk Peak Trail

5. Cascade Canyon Trail

Clear lake with trees and mountains in Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park is exceptionally photogenic
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 9.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,480 feet
  • Time: 5-9 hours
  • Location: Jackson, WY
  • Season: Summer, Fall

The Cascade Canyon Trail is a moderately strenuous 9.4-mile roundtrip hike with a boat ride and a total elevation gain of 1,480 feet in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. Hiking this trail without the paid boat ride across Jenny Lake increases difficulty, length and elevation gain.

Cascade Canyon is the best hike in Grand Teton. It begins with a climb to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, before following Cascade Creek through a u-shaped canyon with striking views over snow capped mountains and an abundance of wildlife. Don’t miss this amazing US hike next time you’re in Wyoming.

6. Cathedral Rock Trail

Tourist in winter coat walking on a red rock path with tall sandstone spires behind on a clear day
Kristen walking down Cathedral Rock in Sedona after summiting for sunrise
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 1.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Location: Sedona, AZ
  • Season: Year round

The Cathedral Rock Trail is a moderately difficult 1.2-mile roundtrip hike in Sedona, Arizona. It’s a short but steep trail leading directly up slick rock to two summit viewpoints hidden behind tall sandstone spires. Cathedral Rock is among the most popular hikes in Sedona.

We hiked Cathedral Rock Trail to summit in time for sunrise and it was an amazing experience. Sedona is one of the best places to visit in Arizona and scenic red rock trails like Cathedral Rock are at the heart of its popularity. This is a hike you simply can’t miss in Sedona.

Further Reading: How to hike Cathedral Rock Trail

7. Continental Divide Trail

Photo from afar of Old Faithful geyser erupting with evergreen trees in the foreground
Yellowstone National Park is on the Continental Divide Trail
  • Difficulty: Very strenuous
  • Distance: 3,100 miles
  • Elevation Gain: ~ 450,000 feet
  • Time: 5-6 months
  • Terminus: North – Glacier National Park, MT | South – Crazy Cook Monument, NM
  • Season: April-October

The Continental Divide Trail is a 3,100 mile hike running from the Mexican border to the Canadian border in Glacier National Park. It’s the highest and most isolated multi-month hike in the US, passing through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

Hiking the Continental Divide Trail would be the ultimate immersive wilderness experience. There’s grizzly bears, wolves, mountain lions, landslides, floods and unfinished sections of the route to contend with.

Read: Official Continental Divide Trail website

8. Delicate Arch Trail

Close up photo of a couple at Delicate Arch on a sunny day in Arches National Park
Mark and Kristen at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park not long before sunset
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 480 feet
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Moab, UT
  • Season: Year round

The Delicate Arch Trail is a moderately difficult 3-mile roundtrip hike in Arches National Park, Utah. It has a total elevation gain of 480 feet and takes around 2-3 hours to complete. The slickrock trail leads to a massive sandstone arch formation and a deep bowl-shaped depression.

We hiked to Delicate Arch for sunset during our trip to Arches in November 2019. It’s a totally unique landscape and as travel photographers we think watching the sun setting over Delicate Arch is one of the best things to do in Utah. The hike is fun but the summit views make this one so special.

Further Reading: How to hike Delicate Arch Trail

9. Devils Garden Trail

Huge and dense arch with a tree growing in the middle clearing below
Navajo Arch on the awesome Devils Garden Trail
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 7.9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Location: Moab, UT
  • Season: Year round

The Devils Garden Trail is a challenging 7.9-mile primitive loop hike leading to seven arches and one 125-foot tall spire in Arches National Park in Utah. Beginners can walk to Landscape Arch, advanced hikers can hike to Double O Arch and experienced hikers can complete the full unmaintained loop.

We hiked the awesome Devils Garden Trail in November 2019. It has a unique lost world feel with elements of pathfinding and forging paths involved. There aren’t many unmaintained trails in the US like this one. For us, it’s one of the three top hikes in Arches National Park.

10. Emerald Lake Trail

Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park reflecting
Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.1 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 744 feet
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Estes Park, CO
  • Season: Year round

The Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park is a 4.1-mile roundtrip hike with a total elevation gain of 744 feet. Beginning at Bear Lake, the trail passes by Nymph Lake and Dream Lake before arriving at the picture-perfect Emerald Lake.

Rocky Mountain National Park is home to countless miles of beautiful scenery with snow capped mountain peaks and brilliant blue lakes at every turn, but Emerald Lake might just be the best of the bunch.

11. Fire Wave Trail

Fire Wave in Valley of Fire is one of the most unique US hikes with a swirling patterned landscape at the end
The Mars-like landscape at the end of Fire Wave Trail
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 175 feet
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Location: Overton, NV
  • Season: Fall, Winter, Spring

The Fire Wave Trail is an easy 1.5-mile roundtrip hike in Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. It’s a fun and family friendly hiking trail leading to striking sandstone rock formations with swirling red, white and pink patterns at the Fire Wave.

We hiked to the Fire Wave for sunrise and had the alien landscape entirely to ourselves. It’s unique, exceptionally photogenic and easy to visit on a day trip from Las Vegas. We highly recommend stopping at Valley of Fire to walk Fire Wave Trail if you’ll be driving between Las Vegas and Zion.

Further Reading: How to hike Fire Wave Trail

12. Guadalupe Peak Trail

Guadalupe Peak summit from below in Big Bend National Park Texas
Guadalupe Peak Trail in Guadalupe Mountains National Park TX
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 8.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Location: Pine Springs, TX
  • Season: Year round

The Guadalupe Peak Trail is a strenuous 8.4-mile roundtrip hike to the highest natural point in Texas in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. It has a total elevation gain of 3,000 feet and a summit elevation of 8,751 feet.

It takes around six to eights hours to complete the Guadalupe Peak Trail hike. But it’s well worth the effort to enjoy far reaching summit views from the Top of Texas.

13. Golden Canyon Trail

Rolling mounds leading to tall mountains and a blue sky at Golden Canyon in Death Valley
The exceptionally photogenic landscape around Golden Canyon Trail in Death Valley
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 7.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 834 feet
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Location: Furnace Creek, CA
  • Season: Fall, Winter, Spring

The Golden Canyon Trail is a strenuous 7.8-mile roundtrip loop hike in Death Valley National Park. It can be hiked in several ways to suit ability but the full circuit passes by Red Cathedral, Zabriskie Point, Badlands Loop and Gower Gulch.

We hiked Golden Canyon Trail in December 2021 on a hot and completely exposed day. It’s a fantastic trail with lots of cool photo stops but it’s important to carry plenty of water to stay hydrated.

14. Half Dome Trail

Half Dome in Yosemite is one of the best and most iconic hikes in America
Half Dome in Yosemite is one of the world’s most iconic trails
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 14-16 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,800 feet
  • Time: 10-12 hours
  • Location: Yosemite Valley, CA
  • Season: Late May-Mid October

The Half Dome Trail is a very strenuous 14-16 mile roundtrip day hike in Yosemite National Park, California. It has a total elevation gain of 4,800 feet and it should only be attempted by strong hikers. A permit is required to begin climbing the steep cables section to Half Dome summit.

We’ve applied for Half Dome permits 5 years in a row and still haven’t won one yet! It’s one of the most sought after day hikes in the US so you’ll need a bit of luck in the lottery. We have hiked Mist Trail and John Muir Trail which descends back to Yosemite Valley and they’re both awesome.

15. Highline Trail

Narrow ledge path next to a cliff with far reaching views over hills and vegetation
The narrow Highline Trail in Glacier National Park
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 11.6 miles one-way
  • Elevation Gain: Gain – 800 feet / Loss – 3,000 feet
  • Time: 5-7 hours
  • Location: St Mary, MT
  • Season: July-October

The Highline Trail is a challenging 11.6 mile one-way hike in Glacier National Park, Montana. It has a total elevation gain of around 800 feet and a total elevation loss of around 3,000 feet. The easiest way to hike Highline Trail is to park at The Loop, take a free shuttle to Logan Pass and walk back to The Loop.

It follows a section of the Continental Divide Trail and has some of the most visually stunning views of any day hike in the US as it tracks high up above Glacier’s Going-to-the-Sun road.

16. Hollywood Sign Trail

Los Angeles city from behind the famous Hollywood sign is one of the best hikes in the US
The famous Hollywood sign in Los Angeles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 875 feet
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Location: Los Angeles
  • Season: Year round

The Hollywood Sign is located on the southern slope of Mount Lee in Griffith Park, Los Angeles. There are several trails leading to the Hollywood Sign, but the quickest and most direct route is Cahuenga Peak and Mount Lee via Burbank Peak Trail and Aileen Getty Ridge Trail.

We hiked this short route from Lake Hollywood Drive to the back of the Hollywood Sign on a blazing hot day in November 2019. It’s definitely one of the best things to do on a first visit to LA, not just for the sign but also for the spectacular views overlooking the entire valley.

17. John Muir Trail

Tall granite peaks with waterfalls and trees below on a clear day
John Muir Trail at Nevada Fall in Yosemite National Park
  • Difficulty: Very strenuous
  • Distance: 211 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 47,000 feet
  • Time: 3 weeks
  • Terminus: North-Happy Isles, CA | South-Mount Whitney Summit, CA
  • Season: July-September

The John Muir Trail is a 211-mile hike running from Yosemite Valley to Mount Whitney in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. It passes through Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks before ending at the highest peak in the continental United States.

Following the southern portion of the celebrated Pacific Crest Trail for much of its total distance, the John Muir Trail has some of America’s most dramatic views of 13,000-14,000 foot mountains and it can be completed in just 2-3 weeks.

Read: Official John Muir Trail website

18. Kilauea Iki Trail

Kilauea Iki crater hiking trail in Hawaii USA with colorful vegetation surrounding black soil
The Kilauea Iki Crater Trail in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Time: 2-4 hours
  • Location: Volcano, HI
  • Season: Year round

Kilauea Iki is a pit crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Kilauea Iki Trail and Crater Rim Trail is a moderately difficult 4-mile roundtrip loop hike combining the northern crater rim and the crater floor. A spur loop trail leading through Nahuku-Thurston Lava Tube should be included to the hike.

Hiking across 65 year old lava on top of an active volcano with steam billowing through cracks is a unique experience that can’t be missed on a visit to Hawaii. The Kilauea Iki Trail has to be considered as one of the top bucket list US hikes.

19. Lost Mine Trail

Dusty path with desert vegetation in Big Bend National Park Texas
The dusty and scorched Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park, Texas
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Location: Terlingua, TX
  • Season: Year round

The Lost Mine Trail is a moderately difficult 4.8-mile roundtrip hike in Big Bend National Park in Texas. It’s an alpine hike full of juniper trees and pine trees with superb views over surrounding mountains and desert.

Lost Mine is the most popular trail in Big Bend and it has near perfect reviews from thousands of previous hikers. This is a US hike you shouldn’t miss if you’re passing through southwest Texas.

20. Maple Pass Loop Trail

Photo of the picturesque Maple Pass Loop Trail in North Cascades with trees, lakes and mountains making it one of the best US hikes
Maple Pass Loop Trail in North Cascades National Park with spectacular mountain and lake views
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 7.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Location: Winthrop, WA
  • Season: May-November

The Maple Pass Loop Trail is a challenging 7.2-mile roundtrip loop hike in North Cascades National Park, Washington. It has a total elevation gain of 2,000 feet and can be hiked in either direction, but counterclockwise has a more gradual ascent and better views of Black Peak at Maple Pass.

We hiked Maple Pass Loop in September 2021 and it’s one of our personal favorite hiking trails in the US. The ascent is grueling but the views over Ann Lake and the Cascade Mountains are beautiful. It’s easily one of the most photogenic trails we’ve hiked in America.

21. Mobius Arch Loop Trail

Uniquely shaped eroded arch rock formation in the Alabama Hills on a clear morning
Mobius Arch in the Alabama Hills of California
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Distance: 0.6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 50 feet
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Location: Lone Pine, CA
  • Season: Year round

The Mobius Arch Loop Trail is an easy 0.6-mile roundtrip loop hike in the Alabama Hills, California. The Alabama Hills are located along Movie Flat Road close to Lone Pine with a backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Mt Whitney.

We hiked to Mobius Arch for sunrise in November 2021. Unfortunately, the sunrise was a little flat but the trail was still fun and photogenic. We think Mobius Arch is one of the best hidden gem US hikes for photographers because very few know about the dramatic Alabama Hills landscape.

22. Mount Healy Overlook Trail

Mount Healy overlook in Denali National Park with far reaching views into the valley below
Overlooking Denali from Mount Healy Overlook in Alaska
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 5.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Location: Healy, AK
  • Season: Late Spring, Summer

Mount Healy Overlook Trail is a challenging 5.4-mile roundtrip hike in Denali National Park, Alaska. It’s one of the steepest hikes in Denali but it ends at an overlook with panoramic views. It’s always windy at the overlook and the weather can quickly take a turn for the worse.

The trail passes through spruce forest and tundra before turning steep to the viewpoint. Strong hikers can continue beyond the overlook to gain more elevation on Mount Healy and open up views of Denali on a clear day.

23. Mount LeConte (Alum Cave Trail)

Mount Leconte in Great Smoky Mountain National Park TN rolling hills filled with green trees and hazy misty clouds
Mount Leconte in Great Smoky Mountain National Park TN
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 11 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,750 feet
  • Time: 6-9 hours
  • Location: Gatlinburg, TN
  • Season: April-November

Mount Leconte is the third highest peak in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are six trails leading to Mount LeConte summit but the challenging 11-mile roundtrip hike on Alum Cave Trail is the shortest, steepest and most popular route.

The hike passes by Arch Rock, Inspiration Point and Alum Cave Bluff on the way to summiting Mount LeConte. It’s worth continuing a short distance further for quintessential views overlooking the Smokies from Myrtle Point.

24. Mount Marcy (Van Hoevenberg Trail)

Hiker stood at the top of a mountain peak in New York's Adirondacks with far reaching views
Kristen at Mount Marcy summit in New York’s Adirondack Mountains
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 14.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,150 feet
  • Time: 7-11 hours
  • Location: Lake Placid, NY
  • Season: Year round

Mount Marcy is the highest point in New York State at 5,343 feet. It’s located in the Adirondack Mountains near Lake Placid and the challenging 14.8-mile roundtrip hike on the Van Hoevenberg Trail is the most popular route to Mt Marcy summit.

We hiked Van Hoevenberg Trail to Mount Marcy in October 2020. It’s a long, slow, wet, muddy and grueling trail mostly through forest but it’s all worth it for 360 degree summit views over rolling Adirondack hills as far as the eye can see.

Further Reading: How to hike Mount Marcy Trail

25. Mount Monadnock Trail

Couple standing together for a summit photo at the top of a mountain with far reaching views and blue sky behind
Mark and Kristen at the summit of Mount Monadnock NH
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 3.9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Time: 3-5 hours
  • Location: Jaffrey, NH
  • Season: April-November

Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire has many hiking trails ranging in length and difficulty to the summit. The most popular hike to Mt Monadnock summit is a challenging 3.9-mile roundtrip loop trail ascending on the White Dot Trail and descending on the White Cross Trail.

We hiked Mount Monadnock via White Dot and White Cross in October 2023 and it turned out to be one of our favorite hikes in the USA. The steep trail has fun rock scrambles and exceptional 360 degree summit views. Don’t miss this one the next time you’re in New Hampshire!

26. Mount Pilchuck Trail

Fire watchtower in Washington at the summit of a fantastic USA hiking trail called Mount Fremont
Stunning old wooden fire watchtower at Mount Pilchuck summit in Washington State
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 5.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Granite Falls, WA
  • Season: June-October

Mount Pilchuck is a 5,344 foot tall mountain in Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, Washington. The only trail to the summit of Mount Pilchuck and its wooden fire lookout tower is a challenging 5.4-mile roundtrip hike with a total elevation gain of 2,100 feet.

We hiked to Mt Pilchuck summit in August 2021. It was one of our favorite hikes in Washington, and we completed a lot of trails in 6 months living near Seattle! The access road is terrible with lots of potholes, but the trail is fun and the summit views from the fire lookout tower are outstanding.

Further Reading: How to hike Mt Pilchuck Trail

27. Mount Storm King Trail

The extraordinary summit view from Mount Storm King makes this one of the best hikes in America
The striking summit vista at the top of Mount Storm King in Olympic National Park WA
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,050 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Location: Port Angeles, WA
  • Season: May-October

Mount Storm King Trail is a challenging 4-mile roundtrip hike in Olympic National Park, Washington. It’s a short but grueling trail gaining over 2,000 feet elevation including a rope section. Views over the central Olympics and Lake Crescent are spectacular.

We hiked Mt Storm King in July 2021 on a beautiful and clear day. The trail is renowned for being overcrowded but it’s worth putting up with the crowds for the mesmerizing views you’ll get at the top. This trail should be on your US hiking bucket list if you plan to visit Olympic soon.

28. Mount Tallac Trail

Photo of Lake Tahoe from a rocky summit on a clear day
Elevated views over Lake Tahoe, CA
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 10 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,300 feet
  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Location: South Lake Tahoe
  • Season: Summer, Fall

At 9,738 feet, Mount Tallac is the tallest mountain on Lake Tahoe’s shoreline. The Mount Tallac Trail is a challenging 10-mile roundtrip hike beginning just 3.5 miles west of South Lake Tahoe. It’s an exceptionally scenic hike with lakes, forests and sweeping summit views.

We’ve hiked many trails around Lake Tahoe and the views are always magnificent. But Mt Tallac has some of the best on offer. You’ll see Fallen Leaf Lake, Floating Island Lake, Cathedral Lake, Cascade Lake, Emerald Bay and of course Lake Tahoe.

29. Mount Washburn Trail

Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park summit path with views into valley below
The summit of Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Location: West Yellowstone, MT
  • Season: Summer, Fall

The Mount Washburn Trail is a popular day hike in Yellowstone National Park. A shorter version can be walked from Chittenden Road but the best way to hike to Mt Washburn is from Dunraven Pass Trailhead. The gradual climb from Dunraven Pass leads to the 10,219 foot high summit and far reaching views.

We’ve been to Yellowstone in April and October and both times Mt Washburn Trail was inaccessible! It’s the most popular day hike in the park and it should be on your Yellowstone itinerary. From the summit you can see up to 50 miles away on a clear day.

Further Reading: The best places to visit in Wyoming

30. Mount Washington Trail

Tourist at the summit sign for Mount Washington NH on a clear day
We didn’t have time to climb Mt Washington so we drove up instead!
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 8.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,200 feet
  • Time: 6-9 hours
  • Location: Gorham, NH
  • Season: Summer, Fall

At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the tallest peak in New Hampshire and the highest point in New England. It has the highest wind speed ever recorded in the US at 237mph and has been called the world’s most dangerous small mountain. You can hike, drive or take a cog train to the summit.

We drove to Mt Washington summit on a clear day in October 2023. But next time we’ll hike the challenging 8.2-mile roundtrip Tuckerman Ravine Trail. It’s the most popular hiking route to Mount Washington summit, but it should only be attempted by strong hikers in good conditions.

31. Mount Whitney Trail

Mount Whitney is the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states and one of the best hikes in the US
Mount Whitney is the highest summit in the contiguous 48 US states
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 22 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 6,100 feet
  • Time: 12-16 hours
  • Location: Lone Pine, CA
  • Season: May-October

The Mount Whitney Trail is a strenuous 22-mile roundtrip day hike to the summit of the tallest peak in the lower 48 states of America. Beginning at Whitney Portal near Lone Pine CA, the grueling hike has a total elevation gain of 6,100 feet and summits at 14,508 feet above sea level.

Hiking Mt Whitney requires a permit and it should only be attempted by experienced hikers. But if you’re looking for the toughest day hikes in the US, they don’t come any more challenging than this.

32. Multnomah Falls Trail

Hiker holding umbrella on a bridge crossing over a double tiered waterfall surrounded by trees
Kristen on the bridge at stunning Multnomah Falls, the highlight of the Columbia River Gorge
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,400 feet
  • Time: 4 hours
  • Location: Portland, OR
  • Season: Year round

Multnomah Falls is a popular 620-foot waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon. It’s the most visited natural attraction in the Pacific Northwest. There are several hiking options around Multnomah Falls but the best is the Wakheena Falls, Ecola Falls and Multnomah Falls Loop Trail.

We hiked the loop trail clockwise in September 2022. Getting to the top of Multnomah Falls is a thigh burner but it’s well worth it for the 3 hidden waterfalls before turning off to descend via Wakheena Falls. This complete loop is one of the best hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, so don’t miss it!

33. Notch Trail

Hiker in a red coat climbing up a steep and long ladder on granite rocks
Kristen climbing the fun Notch Trail ladder in Badlands National Park SD
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 1.3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 130 feet
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Location: Wall, SD
  • Season: Year round

The Notch Trail in Badlands National Park is a moderately difficult 1.5-mile roundtrip hike with a famous ladder climb and excellent views. It cuts through the Badlands wall, skirts narrow cliff ledges and leads to a far reaching end of trail viewpoint.

We’ve hiked Notch Trail twice and both times had it to ourselves because we visited in the off season. It’s definitely the best hike in Badlands so prioritize this trail when you visit the park. The ladder section is fun and the landscape is photogenic so don’t forget your camera!

Further Reading: How to hike Notch Trail

34. Old Rag Trail

Photo of a couple standing together next to a huge boulder on a rocky mountain summit with distant views over rolling hills on a sunny day
Mark and Kristen at the summit of Old Rag Trail in Shenandoah National Park VA
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 9.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,348 feet
  • Time: 5-7 hours
  • Location: Nethers, VA
  • Season: May-October

Old Rag Circuit, also known as Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail, is a challenging 9.4-mile roundtrip loop hike in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. The hike features extensive rock scramble sections on the ascent and Old Rag summit has beautiful 360 degree views.

We hiked Old Rag Trail in October 2023 on a warm and sunny day. It’s one of our favorite adventure hikes in the US and we’d say it’s worth visiting Shenandoah for this trail alone. You’ll need a permit, good shoes and plenty of water.

35. Pacific Crest Trail

Picturesque section of the Pacific Crest Trail multi-month hike in the US with green grass and vegetation in summer
Section of the famous Pacific Crest Trail in Mount Rainier National Park Washington
  • Difficulty: Very strenuous
  • Distance: 2,650 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: ~420,000 feet
  • Time: 5 months
  • Terminus: North-PCT Northern Terminus, WA | South-Campo, CA
  • Season: Northbound start April-May | Southbound start June-July

The Pacific Crest Trail is a famous long distance US hiking trail running from Campo, California on the Mexican border to Manning Park, British Columbia on the Canadian border. It’s a 2,650-mile hike passing through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges in California, Oregon and Washington.

We’ve hiked sections of the PCT in Yosemite, Mt Rainier and North Cascades. It has the most dramatic and striking scenery of the three major long distance trails in America. This would be the first (and maybe only!) multi-month US hike we would do.

Read: Official Pacific Crest Trail website

36. Precipice Trail

Iron rung ladders built into rocks on a narrow path with views over the ocean on a sunny day
Metal ladder section on Precipice Trail with spectacular views
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 3.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,050 feet
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Bar Harbor, ME
  • Season: May-October

The Precipice Trail is a challenging 3.2-mile roundtrip loop hike in Acadia National Park, Maine. It gains more than 1,000 feet elevation in less than a mile with steep cliffs, narrow ledges, iron rungs and ladders. Precipice Trail is the hardest but most adventurous hiking trail in Acadia.

We hiked Precipice Trail on a beautiful fall day in October 2019. It’s a fun and exhilarating climb that should definitely be on your US hiking bucket list. Our advice is to climb the smaller but similar Beehive Trail first before taking on Precipice Trail to get a feel for heights and climbing iron rungs.

Further Reading: How to hike Precipice Trail

37. Queens Garden Navajo Loop Trail

Hikers walking sandy switchbacks into a deep sandstone canyon in Utah
The sandy switchbacks on Navajo Loop Trail in Utah
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 2.9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 625 feet
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Location: Bryce Canyon City, UT
  • Season: Year round

The Queens Garden Navajo Loop Trail is a moderately difficult 2.9-mile roundtrip loop hike in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. It combines Queens Garden Trail and Navajo Loop Trail which descend into Bryce Canyon amphitheater at different points along the 8,000-foot high rim.

We hiked Queens Garden Navajo Loop Trail clockwise in November 2019 and it was one of our favorite hikes in Utah. The unique trail cuts through eerie hoodoos and narrow sandstone walls before ascending out of the amphitheater via a series of sandy switchbacks.

Further Reading: How to hike Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trail

38. Giant Forest Loop Trail

General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park with the tallest trees in the world
General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park California
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 7 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Location: Three Rivers, CA
  • Season: Year round

The Giant Forest Loop Trail is a moderately difficult 7-mile roundtrip loop hike in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park, California. It passes through the Giant Forest Grove which contains the world’s largest trees, including General Sherman.

The trail can be hiked in many ways but the best route is Sherman Tree, Congress, Trail of the Sequoias and Tharp’s Log. However, beginners can hike a much shorter and easier 1.2-mile roundtrip trail with just 200 feet elevation gain straight to the General Sherman Tree and back.

39. Silver Falls Trail Of Ten Falls

Silver Falls State Park in Oregon is one of the best waterfall hikes in the United States stunning scenery
Kristen stood on a bridge in the stunning Silver Falls waterfall trail in Oregon
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 7.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 800 feet
  • Time: 4-5 hours
  • Location: Sublimity, OR
  • Season: Year round

The Trail of Ten Falls is a moderately difficult 7.2-mile roundtrip loop hike in Silver Falls State Park, Oregon. It combines a Rim Trail and a Canyon Trail which can be hiked in any direction. The trail passes by 10 waterfalls, some of which you can walk behind.

We hiked the Trail of Ten Falls in October 2021. It’s one of our favorite hidden gem hiking trails in the US. We got a late start and we couldn’t stop taking photos so we ended up finishing the last few waterfalls in near darkness! It’s out of the way, but Silver Falls State Park is definitely worth visiting.

40. Skyline Loop Trail

Hiker stood on a rock at the summit of Skyline Trail one of the best hikes in Washington and the US
Mark at the summit of Skyline Trail in Mt Rainier with staggering views
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 5.5 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
  • Time: 3-5 hours
  • Location: Paradise, WA
  • Season: July-September

The Skyline Loop Trail is a challenging 5.5-mile roundtrip loop hike in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. It has a total elevation gain of 1,700 feet and can be hiked in either direction. Clockwise has more direct views of Mt Rainier but it’s the busier route.

We began hiking Skyline Loop Trail counter-clockwise at sunrise in August 2021. It’s a truly spectacular trail with waterfalls, meadows, wildflowers and horizon reaching views over mountains and volcanoes. We think Skyline Loop is a quintessential US hiking bucket list trail.

Further Reading: How to hike Skyline Loop Trail

41. Sliding Sands Trail

Sliding Sands colorful volcanic sand long winding path in Haleakala National Park Hawaii
The colorful Sliding Sands Trail in Haleakala National Park Hawaii
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 11.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,500 feet
  • Time: 4-8 hours
  • Location: Kula, HI
  • Season: Year round

Sliding Sands Trail, also known as Keonehe’ehe’e Trail, is a popular hike in Haleakala National Park on Maui, Hawaii. The trail descends from the summit of Haleakala volcano at 10,023 feet to the crater floor. It has an other-worldly landscape with mounds of colorful and shifting sand.

The Sliding Sands Trail is a point to point out and back hike. Beginners can walk just a short way to enjoy the colors, moderate hikers can complete a 5-mile roundtrip route and strong hikers can turn around after seeing Pele’s Paint Pot and Kawilinau volcanic pit.

42. South Kaibab To Bright Angel Trail

Hiking down South Kaibab trail in Grand Canyon South Rim at sunrise one of the most dramatic trails in the US
Kristen descending into the Grand Canyon on South Kaibab Trail at sunrise
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 17.1 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: Loss-4,740 feet | Gain-4,380 feet
  • Time: 6-12 hours
  • Location: Grand Canyon Village, AZ
  • Season: Year round

South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail, also known as the Rim-to-River Trail, is a challenging 17.1-mile day hike in Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The hike descends 7.3 miles with 4,740 feet elevation loss on South Kaibab Trail and ascends 9.8 miles with 4,380 feet elevation gain on Bright Angel Trail.

We began our South Kaibab to Bright Angel day hike at sunrise in December 2021. The Rim to River Trail isn’t easy but it’s definitely one of the best hikes in Grand Canyon South Rim. Looking up at South Rim from Phantom Ranch half way through the trail is a sight we won’t forget in a hurry!

Further Reading: How to day hike South Kaibab to Bright Angel Trail

43. The Enchantments Trail

Hiking The Enchantments Trail in Washington USA during the fall season with golden larches and glacial lakes
Unimaginable beauty in the core Enchantments during golden larch season
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 18.6 miles point to point
  • Elevation Gain: Gain-4,549 feet | Loss-6,688 feet
  • Time: 9-15 hours
  • Location: Leavenworth, WA
  • Season: May-October

The Enchantments is a challenging 18.6-mile point to point hike in Central Washington. It can be thru-hiked in one long and grueling day or it can be split into a multi-day hike with camping. The trail passes through alpine lakes and meadows, rock scree piles, granite peaks and golden larches in September.

We day hiked The Enchantments in September 2021 and it was one of the toughest but most rewarding trails we’ve ever done. Climbing Aasgard Pass to finally reach the Core Enchantments is hard, but descending 6,688 feet to the end is even harder! This is one of our top US hiking recommendations.

Further Reading: How to day hike The Enchantments Trail

44. The Narrows Trail (Bottom Up)

Hiking in waterproofs holding a pole and standing in a narrow river slot canyon in Utah, USA
Kristen hiking in waterproofs through famous Zion slot canyon The Narrows
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: Up to 9.4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Time: 6-10 hours
  • Location: Springdale, UT
  • Season: Year round

The Narrows Trail is a challenging river slot canyon hike in Zion National Park, Utah. It can be completed top-down with a permit, or bottom-up without a permit. The bottom-up version is most popular, and it’s a maximum 9.4-mile roundtrip hike from the Temple of Sinawava to Big Springs and back.

We day hiked The Narrows as far as Big Springs in October 2019 and it’s one of the most amazing trails we’ve done to date. Wading through a narrow water filled canyon for 8 hours with a pole and waterproofs was a totally unique experience for us. This is another essential US hike for your bucket list.

Further Reading: How to day hike The Narrows bottom up

45. The Subway Trail (Bottom Up)

Unique tunnel rock formation with small pools and turquoise colored water on a popular US hiking trail in Utah
Famous photo spot at the end of The Subway in Zion
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 9 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet
  • Time: 6-8 hours
  • Location: Springdale, UT
  • Season: Year round

The Subway Trail is a challenging 9-mile roundtrip hike in Zion National Park’s Wilderness Area. It can be walked top-down in two days or bottom-up in one day, but both require a wilderness permit. From Left Fork Trailhead, the hike descends to a creek and heads upstream until reaching The Subway formation.

We hiked The Subway bottom-up in December 2021 with a next day permit. Forging our own path up the creek was so much fun, with steep banks and several river crossings to navigate. At the end, The Subway is one of the most unique photo spots in any US national park.

Further Reading: How to day hike The Subway bottom up

46. The Wave Trail

Swirling red and orange patterns at the Wave in Arizona one of the most incredible landscapes and best hikes in the USA
The extraordinary swirling sandstone patterns at The Wave in Arizona
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 6+ miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 450+ feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Location: Kanab, UT
  • Season: Year round

The Wave is a uniquely patterned sandstone formation in Arizona’s Vermilion Cliffs National Monument but the trailhead is near Kanab in Utah. The trail to The Wave is a moderately difficult 6-mile roundtrip hike on red rocks and sand with just 450 feet total elevation gain.

We won a Wave lottery permit and hiked the fun trail to The Wave in December 2021. It’s the most uniquely photogenic landscape we’ve ever seen and we’d go back in a heartbeat. We found the trail easy with paper map navigation provided by the BLM. Add this popular USA hike to your wishlist!

Further Reading: How to hike The Wave in Arizona

47. Waimoku Falls Trail

Waimoku Falls Hawaii thin wispy waterfall surrounded by lush green vegetation
The narrow Waimoku Falls in Hawaii
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Hana, HI
  • Season: Year round

The Waimoku Falls Trail is a moderately difficult 4-mile roundtrip hike in Haleakala National Park on Maui, Hawaii. It begins at Pipiwai Trailhead on the famous Road to Hana and leads through dense forest before ending at the 400-foot tall Waimoku Falls.

Stop at the Falls at Makahiku and a gigantic Banyan Tree to break up the gradual 650 feet of elevation gain. If you’re visiting Maui anytime soon, this trail should be included in your itinerary.

48. Watkins Glen Gorge Trail

Watkins Glen gorge trail to rainbow falls is one of the most photogenic hikes in the US
The stunning Rainbow Falls in Watkins Glen gorge trail in the Finger Lakes, NY
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 300 feet
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Location: Watkins Glen, NY
  • Season: May-October

The Watkins Glen Gorge Trail is a moderately difficult 3-mile roundtrip loop hike running through Watkins Glen State Park, New York. The man-made trail with 832 stone steps leads through the base of a 400-foot deep gorge following Glen Creek. It passes by a total of 19 waterfalls.

We’ve hiked Watkins Glen Gorge Trail at least 10 times. It’s like being transported to a fantasy world with tunnels, rock formations and waterfalls carved into a narrow gorge. Near the end, Rainbow Falls is one of the most picture-perfect scenes imaginable.

Further Reading: How to hike Watkins Glen Gorge Trail

49. Wheeler Peak Trail

Wheeler Peak in New Mexico stunning mountains with forest foreground
The summit of Wheeler Peak Trail in New Mexico
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 8.2 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 2,961 feet
  • Time: 5-8 hours
  • Location: Taos Ski Valley, NM
  • Season: June-October

Wheeler Peak is the highest point in New Mexico at 13,161 feet above sea level. There are multiple trails leading to Wheeler Peak, but the best route is the challenging 8.2-mile roundtrip hike with almost 3,000 feet elevation gain on Williams Lake Trail.

The final third of the hike to Wheeler Peak after Williams Lake is mostly scree field. But summit views over Taos Valley, Wheeler Peak wilderness and the Sangro de Cristo mountains in Colorado are well worth the climb.

Further Reading: The best hiking quotes

50. Wonderland Trail

Blue wildflowers and green grass with a tall snow capped mountain in the background
Hiking through colorful wildflowers in bloom on the Wonderland Trail in Mount Rainier National Park
  • Difficulty: Strenuous
  • Distance: 93 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation Gain: 22,000 feet
  • Time: 6-12 days
  • Location: Paradise, WA
  • Season: June-October

The Wonderland Trail is a challenging 93-mile loop hike circling Mount Rainier in Washington. It’s a grueling multi-day hike with around 22,000 feet total elevation gain. The hike passes through forests, valleys, alpine lakes and mountains as it takes in the best scenery around Mount Rainier National Park.

We’ve hiked several sections of the stunning Wonderland Trail across multiple visit to Mt Rainier. Hiking the whole loop around the volcano is a fantastic way to cut out driving time between the 5 regions and inevitable parking issues at trailheads. Grab your hiking buddies and head for Mt Rainier this year!

Our Top 10 USA Hikes

It’s almost impossible to confidently say which US hikes are the best because it’s just too subjective. Our favorite hike might be your 15th favorite or 49th favorite. But for arguments sake, we’re going to show you our personal top 10 favorite USA hiking trails ranked in order.

  1. The Narrows (UT)
  2. South Kaibab to Bright Angel (AZ)
  3. The Enchantments (WA)
  4. The Wave (AZ)
  5. Skyline Loop (WA)
  6. Old Rag (VA)
  7. Maple Pass Loop (WA)
  8. Mt Monadnock (NH)
  9. Angels Landing (UT)
  10. Watkins Glen (NY)

Don’t agree? Let us know your favorite US hikes in the comments below!

More From The US

More Hikes


We hope this guide to 50 of the best hikes in the US helps with planning your next hiking trip in America!

Please let us know if you have any questions about this list of the best US hiking trails in the comments below.

Happy Hiking,

Mark and Kristen

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