The Top 10 Hiking Trails in the US

The Top 10 Hiking Trails in the US
The Top 10 Hiking Trails in the US

In an age of video games and simulated adventures, it is not uncommon to find a grown up person who has never undertaken a real adventure like nature trails, rock climbing or camping. Many people today, especially those born into the computer age of the 80s and later, do not realize just how adventurous and healthy hiking and other nature related adventures are.

But then, why hike?

The early man, our ancestors, were a nature professionals from the way they hunted and gathered to how they navigated without the assistance of maps and GPS. If you are in the US, you should consider doing some hiking this holiday with a few friends or family. If you already love to hike, here is a list of the top 10 hiking trails in the US you absolutely must consider going to in your lifetime.

10. Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian hiking trail is not particularly one trail but a series of hiking spots. The trails stretch from Mount Katahdin in Maine through to Springer Mountain Georgia for 2,178 miles {Source: GORP]. The trail passes through twelve other states and is currently the longest marked trail in the US. The trail has been a major enthusiasts’ attraction since I was completed in 1937. The best part is that the trail goes through 6 national parks and 8 national forests. According to, the trail is in such a good shape all times of the year because it is maintained by over 6,000 volunteers. It has a whopping 165,000 blazes which are painted markers to show hikers the way on the trail. If you are looking for a walk-thru long hike or just need a small hiking path for a day, then this may be just what you need. You can mail your supplies and foods to the stops you will be passing through in cases of long treks and you can find a wide selection of resources online to help you prepare for this nature trek.

9. Glacier National Park

The Glacier National park in Montana has been christened the true Hiker’s paradise by many reviewers. With a trail of over 730 miles of marked trails, the national park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the US [Source: Glacier National Park Hiking]. Most people who travel from all over the US to hike in the park often go for foot hiking and exploration while others prefer to find a nice spot and camp. The park is popular for its beautiful mountain peaks, the abundant wildlife on the trails and the isolated alpine lakes. The name Glacier National Park is derived from the massive glaciers which scientists say helped shape the rock formations in the park over 10,000 years ago. The park boasted of over 150 glaciers in 1850 but now there are only 26 left thanks to climate change ( If you are interested in hiking at this park, you will need a permit but you will not need to make plans a year in advance unlike other popular trekking destinations such as Yosemite and The Grand Canyon. For high elevations hiking, you will need to plan your trip for July when snow is melted but you can go for low elevation hiking even in mid-June.

8. Pacific Coast Trail

Almost everyone who has ever hiked, likes to talk about hiking or has considered finding the best hiking trail in the US must have heard of the Pacific Coast Hiking trail. This massive hike-thru destination is also referred to plainly as the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a 2,650 mile long trail that passes through 24 national forests, 7 national parks and over 1,000 lakes across 3 states. The trail will take you through 19 major canyons and over 60 major mountain passes. PCT was first explored in the 1930s by the YMCA hiking groups and was eventually registered as a one and complete border to border trail from Mexico to Canada (Source: Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail). One of the main reasons why the trail is so popular is that it is so varied as it goes through 7 different eco-zones in the North American continent and touches everything from the cold arctic-alpine to the hot low desert climates. This is a popular hiking trail for weekend hikers and nature enthusiasts who go on long trails thanks to its accessibility from Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.

7. Zion National Park

Of all the hiking trails and parks in the United States, the Zion National Park hiking trail probably has the most beautiful combination of canyons and cliffs. According to reviews, The Zion National Park in Utah offers the best trails a desert has to offer and you will have the choice to stick to the higher elevation rims or trek in the low altitude Canyons or transverse across both. This trail is well travelled and offers a wider selection of beautiful nature attractions including rivers, canyon walls, waterfalls, hills and wildlife. This nature trail is popular with hikers largely because of the excellent vistas that the ‘slickrock country’ offers. There is no better hiking trail for someone who is looking for the best gorge hiking gorges in the US. Those who are weak at heart and claustrophobics though may want to stay away from the narrowest canyons and the highest gorges – they have been classified as some of the most thrilling yet very scary natural formations in the world.

6. Yosemite National Park

Most nature treks, national parks and other nature attractions in the US are gorgeous, but the Yosemite National park in California takes the trophy as the most spectacular. The park spans close to 750,000 acres in size and has over 800 miles of amazing hiking trails. It is estimated that close to 4 million people visit the park each year, with more than half of these going there specifically to hike in its natural trails ( There are so many options for someone who wants to hike at the Yosemite National park that they can be spoilt for choice. It is a good thing though that there are so many resources on the internet and locally to guide them to choose a location they will love. Most trails are best for on-foot exploration and include a choice of lakes, rivers, glacier-formed mountain peaks, wildlife laden plains and cliffs. This is also the perfect trail for nature lovers, those who prefer to bird watching and campers.

5. Mount Whitney

Mount Whitney boasts of distinction in being the tallest mountain in the mainland US and for being only 3 hours away from California LA. This is a perfect hiking trail for an individual who is looking for a perfect mountain hiking experience on an old trail. The Mount Whitney hiking trail is over 100 years old and comprises of a 22 mile round trip to the summit of the mountain [Day Hiking Mt. Whitney]. Note however that because of the weather and the nature of the trail, novice hikers are often discouraged from attempting this hike. Statistics show that only half of about 16,000 hikers who attempt climbing Mount Whitney actually make it to the summit. Hiking to the 14,500 feet above sea level is exhilarating for experienced hikers not only because of the challenge but also because they get to navigate 97 slick boulders and switchbacks, hike over snow before reaching the summit and traverse river crossings and cliffs to on the trek [].

4. Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon happens to be one of the most popular tour destinations in the world. It is estimated that over 5 million pass through the gates to the national park each year to view the most amazing vistas only available at the canyon. Thousands go to the Grand Canyon each year not only to see the canyons, vistas, gorges and land formations but to also experience trekking there. Hikers who choose the Grand Canyon often find themselves worn out by the time they get to the bottom and have a difficulty coming up. This park has 15 official hiking trails with most of them being best for one day daytime hiking. If you are an experienced hiker or need an experience for a weekend, then you will need to get a back-country permit. Only 13,000 permits are issued to hikers every year at the Grand Canyon against over 30,000 applications each year [source:].

3. Denali National Park

There are different kinds of hikers. There are those that love the tranquility and safety of hiking in the plains and plateau areas while watching wildlife and birds and there are those that seek the thrill of dangerous cliffs, mountains and gorges. If you are the latter, you may want to know what Denali National Park has to offer. Unlike most national parks, Denali does not have marked cut trails – I guess just the fact that it is in Alaska says a lot. This is the best hiking trail for those who want to find their way through dense woods, navigate dangerous and demanding trails, see and cross raging rivers and thick bushes and generally get a true feeling of untamed nature. Because of its rough nature and the presence of dangerous animals, only experienced hikers who have a weekend or a week to spare are encourage to take these trails on..

2. John Muir Trail

The John Muir trail is among the most preferred hiking trails in the US. This is a 215 mile trail that starts at the Yosemite National park and passes through Sequoia National Park, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Kings Canyon National Park and climaxes at the Mount Whitney National Park highest peak at an altitude of 14,496 feet above sea level [Source:]. The trail is named after the founder of the conservation organization and legendary naturalist John Muir who came to San Francisco looking for ‘the wildest place’ when he was 26 (Source: Hiking the John Muir Trail]. refers to this trail as the most beautiful as it combines the best of 4 national parks, mountains and offers the best hiking experience during the spring. When you choose the John Muir trail for your holiday trek, be sure you will have a feel of mountain lakes, granite cliffs, high peaks of 14,000 feet, low gorges at 8,000 feet and mountain ranges just to name a few [Best Hike]..

1. Arches National Park

In my opinion, the Arches National Park hiking trail is the best in the US, maybe even in the world. Not only is the park a symbol of the country’s most amazing natural formations and beauty, the canyon country weather and concentrations of arches, the famous Delicate Arch included, is a sight to marvel at each time you visit. The park is located in Utah near Moab town and boasts of over 2,000 natural sandstone arches [Wikitravel]. Not all trails at the park are easy though, but there are all kinds of hiking trails for every kind of hiker – from a novice starter to an experienced risk take. The longest trail in the park is 7 miles and goes through 8 arches [Everytrail]. If you think this is what you need for a weekend getaway or to camp for a week, you should know that because of the climate in the area, the best season to hike is during the spring and summer.

Hiking is simply attempting what the early man did to survive, and it is still in us. Hiking nature trails involves walking the earth in its natural state, albeit with some safety improvements and defined paths, for fun and to be healthy. These are the best hiking trails in the US if you ask me..