Are you an avid hiker or a nature enthusiast looking for a new adventure? America has a diverse range of landscapes, from rugged mountains to expansive forests and everything in between, making it an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a challenging trek, there’s a hiking trail in America that’s perfect for you. From the East Coast to the West Coast and everywhere in between, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 hiking trails in America that offer breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences. So, lace up your boots, grab your backpack, and get ready to hit the trails!
Trail Length: 2,180 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 464,000 Feet | Trailhead: Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine
The Appalachian Trail, or the AT, is one of the most iconic hiking trails in America, stretching over 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine. The trail traverses through 14 states, including some of the highest peaks on the East Coast, offering hikers breathtaking views of mountains, forests, and wildlife. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice, the AT offers a challenging yet rewarding experience for all.
Reasons to Hike Appalachian Trail:
- Scenic Views: The Appalachian Trail offers hikers breathtaking views of mountains, forests, and wildlife. From the highest peaks on the East Coast to picturesque valleys and streams, the AT showcases some of the most stunning natural beauty in America.
- Physical Challenge: The AT is a challenging trail, with steep climbs and rugged terrain. Hiking the trail requires physical endurance, mental toughness, and a strong will to succeed. For many hikers, the physical challenge of the AT is a major draw, providing a sense of accomplishment and personal growth.
- Cultural Experience: The AT passes through a variety of towns and communities, each with its unique culture and history. From the southern charm of Georgia to the quaint villages of New England, hiking the AT offers an opportunity to experience America’s diverse regional identities.
- Camaraderie: The AT community is known for its supportive and welcoming atmosphere. Hiking the trail offers an opportunity to meet fellow hikers from all walks of life, sharing in the challenges and triumphs of the journey together.
- Sense of Accomplishment: Completing the entire Appalachian Trail, or even a section of it, is a significant achievement. Hiking the AT requires dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to push beyond your limits. The sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the trail is a powerful motivator for many hikers.
Pacific Crest Trail
Trail Length: 2,650 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 489,418 Feet | Trailhead: Multiple from Mexico to Canada
The Pacific Crest Trail, or the PCT, is one of the longest and most scenic hiking trails in America, spanning over 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. The trail passes through California, Oregon, and Washington, traversing the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, as well as the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. Hiking the PCT offers an unforgettable experience, with stunning views, diverse landscapes, and a strong sense of camaraderie among hikers.
Reasons to Hike Pacific Crest Trail:
- Scenic Beauty: The Pacific Crest Trail offers hikers some of the most stunning scenery in America, including majestic mountain ranges, vast deserts, and pristine lakes and streams. From the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada to the lush forests of Oregon and Washington, the PCT showcases the natural beauty of the West Coast.
- Physical Challenge: Hiking the PCT requires physical endurance and mental toughness, with long stretches of rugged terrain and steep ascents and descents. The trail is a significant challenge, but it also offers hikers a sense of accomplishment and personal growth.
- Trail Culture: The PCT has a strong community of hikers, known for their supportive and welcoming spirit. Hiking the trail offers an opportunity to connect with fellow hikers from all over the world, sharing in the challenges and triumphs of the journey together.
- Solitude and Reflection: The PCT offers a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse oneself in nature. The trail provides ample opportunity for solitude and reflection, allowing hikers to connect with themselves and the natural world.
- Adventure and Exploration: The PCT offers an adventure of a lifetime, with endless opportunities for exploration and discovery. From encountering wildlife to discovering hidden waterfalls, hiking the PCT offers a chance to experience the world in a new and exciting way.
Continental Divide Trail
Trail Length: 3,100 Miles | Difficulty Level: Difficult | Elevation Gain: 296,000 Feet | Trailhead: Multiple from Mexico to Canada
The Continental Divide Trail, or the CDT, is one of the longest and most challenging hiking trails in America, stretching over 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico. The trail traverses the spine of the Rocky Mountains, passing through five US states – Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Hiking the CDT offers a unique and unforgettable wilderness experience, with rugged terrain, diverse landscapes, and abundant wildlife.
Reasons to Hike Continental Divide Trail:
- Epic Scenery: The Continental Divide Trail boasts some of the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring landscapes in America, from high alpine passes to desert canyons. Hiking the CDT offers an immersive and unforgettable wilderness experience.
- Wilderness Adventure: The CDT offers a true wilderness experience, with long stretches of remote terrain, abundant wildlife, and limited infrastructure. Hiking the trail requires self-sufficiency, physical fitness, and outdoor skills, but also offers a sense of freedom and adventure.
- Cultural and Historical Significance: The CDT passes through diverse ecosystems and cultural landscapes, offering hikers a chance to connect with the rich history and traditions of the American West. From Native American history to mining towns, the trail offers a glimpse into the unique cultures and traditions of the region.
- Personal Challenge: Hiking the CDT is a significant physical and mental challenge, requiring perseverance, resilience, and determination. The trail offers ample opportunities for personal growth and transformation, with many hikers reporting increased confidence, self-awareness, and inner strength.
- Sense of Community: The CDT hiking community is known for its supportive and welcoming spirit, with hikers often helping each other out on the trail and forming lasting bonds. Hiking the CDT offers an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and experience the camaraderie of the trail.
John Muir Trail
Trail Length: 211 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 46,000 Feet | Trailhead: Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney, California
The John Muir Trail, or the JMT, is one of the most iconic and scenic hiking trails in America, spanning over 200 miles through the High Sierra Mountains in California. The trail follows a section of the Pacific Crest Trail, passing through Yosemite National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park. Hiking the JMT offers a unique and unforgettable wilderness experience, with spectacular alpine scenery, crystal-clear lakes, and towering peaks.
Reasons to Hike John Muir Trail:
- Scenic Beauty: The John Muir Trail offers some of the most breathtaking and stunning landscapes in America, with panoramic views of the High Sierra Mountains, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and cascading waterfalls.
- Wilderness Adventure: Hiking the JMT is a true wilderness adventure, with long stretches of remote and rugged terrain, abundant wildlife, and limited infrastructure. The trail requires self-sufficiency, outdoor skills, and physical fitness, but also offers a sense of freedom and exploration.
- Cultural and Historical Significance: The JMT passes through some of the most iconic national parks in America, including Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia. The trail offers a chance to connect with the rich history, culture, and traditions of the American West, from the Native American tribes to the early pioneers and explorers.
- Personal Challenge: Hiking the JMT is a significant physical and mental challenge, requiring perseverance, resilience, and determination. The trail offers many opportunities for personal growth and transformation, with hikers often reporting increased confidence, self-awareness, and inner strength.
- Spiritual Connection: The JMT is renowned for its spiritual and transformative power, with many hikers reporting a deep sense of connection to nature, a renewed appreciation for life, and a greater sense of purpose. Hiking the JMT offers a chance to connect with something greater than oneself and to find inner peace and clarity.
Trail Length: 93 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 22,000 Feet | Trailhead: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
The Wonderland Trail is a world-renowned hiking trail that circumnavigates Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington State. The trail covers over 90 miles of diverse and stunning terrain, including glacier-fed rivers, subalpine meadows, and ancient forests. Hikers on the Wonderland Trail can experience breathtaking views of Mount Rainier from various vantage points, making it a bucket-list destination for many outdoor enthusiasts.
Reasons to Hike Wonderland Trail:
- Stunning Scenery: The Wonderland Trail takes hikers through some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the Pacific Northwest, including alpine meadows, old-growth forests, and glacial lakes.
- Mount Rainier: Hiking the Wonderland Trail provides breathtaking views of Mount Rainier, the highest peak in Washington State, from various vantage points along the trail.
- Wildlife: The Wonderland Trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, elk, and mountain goats. Hikers may have the chance to see these animals in their natural habitat.
- Challenge: The Wonderland Trail is a challenging hike, with over 22,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. It’s a great trail for experienced hikers looking for a physically demanding adventure.
- Camaraderie: Hiking the Wonderland Trail is a popular activity, and hikers often form a tight-knit community along the trail. It’s a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and make lasting memories.
Tahoe Rim Trail
Trail Length: 165 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate | Elevation Gain: 35,000 Feet | Trailhead: Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
The Tahoe Rim Trail is a 170-mile hiking trail that circles the beautiful Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. This scenic trail takes hikers through breathtaking alpine scenery, lush forests, and picturesque meadows. With its stunning vistas, the Tahoe Rim Trail is a popular destination for backpackers, day hikers, and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a memorable adventure in the Sierra Nevada.
Reasons to Hike Tahoe Rim Trail:
- Stunning Scenery: The Tahoe Rim Trail offers breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding Sierra Nevada mountains.
- Varied Terrain: Hikers can enjoy a diverse range of landscapes, from lush forests to rocky ridges and alpine meadows.
- Wildlife Watching: The trail is home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, mountain lions, and mule deer.
- Well-Maintained Trail: The Tahoe Rim Trail Association maintains the trail to a high standard, making it accessible and safe for hikers of all levels.
- Convenient Access: The trail has multiple access points and is easily reachable from major cities in California and Nevada.
Trail Length: 272 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 65,000 Feet | Trailhead: Massachusetts to Canada
The Long Trail is a hiking trail located in Vermont and is considered one of the oldest long-distance trails in the United States. Spanning over 270 miles, the trail runs the length of the state from the Massachusetts border to Canada. The trail is known for its rugged terrain, scenic vistas, and backcountry camping opportunities.
Reasons to Hike Long Trail:
- Scenic Views: The Long Trail offers stunning views of Vermont’s mountains, forests, and valleys.
- Challenging Terrain: The trail features a variety of challenging terrain, including steep climbs, rugged rocky sections, and uneven footing.
- Remote Wilderness: The trail passes through remote wilderness areas, providing a true backcountry experience.
- Vermont Culture: The trail runs through many quintessential Vermont towns, allowing hikers to experience the unique culture and history of the state.
- Thru-Hiking: Thru-hiking the Long Trail is an impressive feat, and one that is highly rewarding for those who complete it.
Trail Length: 486 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 89,000 Feet | Trailhead: Denver to Durango, Colorado
The Colorado Trail is a 486-mile scenic trail that traverses the Rocky Mountains from Denver to Durango, passing through six wilderness areas, eight mountain ranges, and some of the most breathtaking views in Colorado. It is an excellent choice for hikers seeking a challenging adventure while immersing themselves in Colorado’s stunning natural beauty.
Reasons to Hike Colorado Trail:
- Spectacular Scenery: The Colorado Trail offers breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, including snow-capped peaks, alpine lakes, and lush forests.
- Wildlife Viewing: From bighorn sheep to black bears, the trail is home to a diverse range of wildlife that you can spot along the way.
- Challenging Terrain: With over 500 miles of rugged terrain, the Colorado Trail is a challenging hike that will test your endurance and hiking skills.
- Trail Community: The trail is well-supported by local volunteers, and hikers can enjoy the camaraderie and support of other hikers along the way.
- Accessibility: The trail has multiple access points, allowing hikers to customize their trip and choose their starting and ending points based on their preferences and abilities.
Ozark Highlands Trail
Trail Length: 165 Miles | Difficulty Level: Moderate to Difficult | Elevation Gain: 28,000 Feet | Trailhead: Lake Fort Smith State Park to Woolum, Arkansas
The Ozark Highlands Trail is a 165-mile trail that runs through the Ozark National Forest in Arkansas. It is a popular destination for hikers, offering stunning views of the Ozark Mountains and a chance to explore the unique natural beauty of the area. The trail is known for its diverse terrain, challenging hikes, and beautiful scenery, making it a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts.
Reasons to Hike Ozark Highlands Trail:
- Scenic Beauty: The trail offers breathtaking views of the Ozark National Forest, including waterfalls, caves, and wildflowers.
- Cultural and Historic Significance: Hikers can explore the rich history of the Ozarks, including Native American sites and old homesteads.
- Wildlife Viewing: The Ozarks are home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, and white-tailed deer.
- Backcountry Camping: The trail offers plenty of opportunities for backcountry camping, allowing hikers to immerse themselves in nature.
- Challenge: The Ozark Highlands Trail is a challenging hike, with rugged terrain and steep climbs, making it a great option for experienced hikers seeking a new adventure.
Trail Length: 1,300 Miles | Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate | Elevation Gain: 28,000 Feet | Trailhead: Big Cypress National Preserve to Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Florida Trail is a 1,300-mile footpath that runs from the Gulf Islands National Seashore in the Panhandle to Big Cypress National Preserve in the Everglades. This unique trail offers hikers a diverse range of terrain to explore, from beaches and swamps to forests and grasslands. The Florida Trail is a true representation of Florida’s diverse natural beauty, and a great way to experience the state’s unique ecosystems.
Reasons to Hike Florida Trail:
- Unique Ecosystems: The Florida Trail provides an opportunity to explore a diverse range of ecosystems, including swamps, forests, and beaches, all within one trail.
- Wildlife: With over 500 miles of the Florida Trail winding through protected lands, you’ll encounter a variety of wildlife, from alligators to black bears, making for an exciting adventure.
- Accessibility: With its southern location and relatively flat terrain, the Florida Trail is an accessible hike for those looking for a shorter or easier thru-hike experience.
- History and Culture: Along the trail, hikers can explore Florida’s rich history and unique culture, from ancient Native American settlements to modern-day coastal towns.
- Sunsets and Sunrises: The Florida Trail offers some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises, especially at locations such as the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
Meet Cheri, a nature enthusiast who cherishes the simple joys of walking, hiking, and the comfort of glamping. With a background in e-commerce, she initially delved into the world of sports and outdoor equipment by selling products on Amazon. Today, she enjoys the freedom of blogging, sharing her expertise to help you pick the best of the best for your next outdoor adventure.