“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
So said John Muir, an environmentalist and activist who is known as the “Father of the National Parks.”
Sure, you can find a trail close to home, but if you have the time for a bigger adventure, you’ll want to keep reading.
6 Top U.S. Hiking Trails
From Maine to Hawaii (and everywhere in-between) our country is blessed with an abundance of scenic hikes. Here are a half dozen of our favorites.
This 3.2-mile hike takes you over boulders and up a granite staircase, at times requiring the use of iron rungs and ladders, so it’s not for little kids or those with a fear of heights. But if you can make it over those obstacles, you’ll find yourself at the summit where you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the coast of Maine.
The Maroon Bells in Aspen is said to be the most photographed place in Colorado. True to its name, the Maroon Creek Trail (3.5 miles one way) follows the Maroon Creek through pine forests and open meadows. Along the way, pause to take in the steep pink-tinted slopes of the mountains that surround you. This hike is suitable for beginners.
Part of the appeal of this trail is that it’s located just outside of Washington D.C. The 7.8-mile hike offers spectacular views of the Potomac River. Arrive by 8 a.m. to avoid the crowds. Once you’ve hiked this trail, don’t cross it off your bucket list. It’s known for its unique beauty each season of the year.
One of the most notorious hikes in America, this trail offers towering temples, soaring cliffs, and sculpted sandstone. But there are also parts of the trail that are only a few feet wide, with drops of up to 1,000 feet on either side. At times, there are chains to hold onto, but this trail is not recommended for those with a fear of heights or for small children.
It’s no surprise that one of the most beautiful hikes in the world would be in Hawaii. This 11-mile trail hugs jagged Napali Coast on the island of Kauai. It crosses five valleys, offering a spectacular mix of tropical forests, cliffs, and remote beaches. Like Angels Landing, portions of the trail can be treacherous and are not for those with a fear of heights. One section of the hike, in particular, has earned the nickname “Crawler’s Ledge” due to its narrowness and steep drop.
With 500 miles of trails, Red River Gorge has no shortage of options, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned hiker. One of the best day hikes is to follow the Bison Way Trail to Indian Staircase, which offers panoramic views of the gorge.
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