The United States has over 200,000 miles of trails to discover and explore. But with so much to see, it’s tricky to know where to start. Check out our list of the top trails in the U.S. See if your favorite trails made the list and check out some you may have yet to explore!
The Bright Angel Trail - Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
If you have never been hiking in the Grand Canyon before, this is the place to start. The Bright Angel Trail is one of the two trails that reach the bottom of the Grand Canyon; the other is the South Kaibab Trail. Both of these trails are well-maintained and offer stunning views of the Canyon. Enjoy views from any stop along the way. Surrounded by billions of years of history, it is hard not to enjoy the scenery around.
Half Dome – Yosemite National Park, California
As Yosemite’s icon, Half Dome rises 8,800 feet above sea level and is a great challenge to many hikers. This trail is not for the unprepared or out of shape. With a 16-mile roundtrip, you will enjoy outstanding views of Vernal and Nevada Falls, Liberty Cap, Half Dome, as well as panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra.
Angel’s Landing Trail – Zion National Park, Utah
Not recommended for anyone who is scared of heights! Starting at the Zion's Grotto Trailhead, the hike to Angels Landing follows the longer West Rim Trail up and out of the west side of the main canyon. Angels Landing is unique fin-like mountain formation that juts out to the center of the main canyon. The trail itself is narrow but worth the risk. With a final viewpoint roughly 1500 feet above the canyon floor, it is hard not to be amazed by the breathtaking view.
Breakneck Ridge Trail - Hudson Highlands State Park - New York
With its close proximity to New York City, Breakneck Ridge, located within Hudson Highlands State Park, is popular for hikers seeking time away from bustling urban life. The trail offers 5.5 miles of rugged rocky terrain that can feel tough to even the most seasoned outdoorsman. It makes a rugged ascent with amazing views of the Hudson River, Shawangunk, and Catskill Mountains vistas, mixed forests, and wildflowers.
The Tahoe Rim Trail - Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
This trail is one of the world’s premier trails, passing through two states, six counties, one state park, three National Forests, and three Wilderness areas. You may hike the trail or choose to mountain bike or horseback ride. This spectacular trail is 165 miles of single-track multiuse trail, winding peak to peak around Lake Tahoe. Check out the Tahoe Rim Trail Association for information on backcountry camping, becoming a guide, and how to visit.
Finger Lakes Trail - Letchworth State Park, New York
The Finger Lakes Trail actually spans the whole of New York and is generally off-limits to mountain bikers. But there is a 22-mile section that remains an exception. The trail itself is a fast, rocky, full of roots, and constantly dips in and out of ravines. Even expert riders need to be on their toes. The entire trail runs through dense forest, so you’ll rarely see the sun. But the rugged terrain is a worthwhile challenge.
Appalachian Trail: The Pinnacle, Pennsylvania
The entire Appalachian Trail makes the list, stretching from Katahdin in Maine to Springer Mountain in Georgia - a distance of about 2160 miles. Many Appalachian Trail hikers claim the views at the Pinnacle are the best views on the Pennsylvania stretch of the Trail. With a round-trip of 8.5 miles, this rocky path is definitely a workout but totally worth it. Enjoy spectacular views of Hawk Mountain, the Lehigh Valley, and Blue Rocks.
Fire's Creek Rim Trail - Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina
Mountains towering 5,000 feet, cascading waterfalls, and towering hardwood forests are the sights awaiting visitors in this national forest. This trail features scenic views, heath and grassy balds, and a mixed hardwood forest with rhododendron and wildflowers. The entire loop is 25 miles and is open for hikers and horseback riding. Water is infrequent along the trail, so be sure to carry an adequate supply.
Harding Icefield Trail - Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
This trail is strenuous, repeat, strenuous. Starting on Kenai Fjord's valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though meadows, and climbs well above tree lines. The top of the trail gives a spectacular view with a horizon of ice and snow that stretches as far as the eye can see. It is important to note that hikers gain approximately 1,000 feet of elevation with every mile so be prepared for a tough hike. Allow at least 6-8 hours for the entire trip.
Old Rag Mountain Hike – Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
This is one of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah (if not the entire mid-Atlantic region), with many spectacular panoramic views, and challenging rock scrambles. But with likability comes popularity so be sure to hit the trail early in the morning. Many hikers also prefer to do this loop counterclockwise so they tackle the rock scramble on the downhill. Either way, the rock scramble can be challenging, as it is steep and requires climbing through cracks in the rock. The hike is a challenge and takes some planning but at the end brings a sense of accomplishment like few others.