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Discover the 22 Most Beautiful & Best Hikes in the US (Intermediate to Short)

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Ever had that itch in your feet? No, not athlete’s foot – I’m talking about that urge to wander the great outdoors! If you’re a fan of hiking (or even just thinking about it), then you know there’s something magical about wandering amidst the trees, gulping down that pine-scented goodness, and giving your legs the workout they’ve been craving since your last Netflix binge. Hiking is like therapy, but way cheaper and with better views. It’s that warm, fuzzy feeling in your chest (and sometimes, the burning in your calves).

Wondering where to let your boots make their mark next? Well, the US is pretty much a smorgasbord of trails, from the “is-that-an-ice-cube?” chill of Alaskan mountain passes to Hawaii’s “I-think-I-left-my-heart-and-soul-here” volcanic vistas. Dreaming of an epic desert sunrise or a waterfall that looks straight out of a fairy tale? Yep, America’s got those too.

I’ve put together a handpicked list of 22 absolutely drool-worthy hikes across the US. These aren’t just any trails, my friend. They range from the “let’s-take-it-easy-and-enjoy-the-view” paths to the “why-did-I-think-this-was-a-good-idea?” challenges and everything in between. But here’s the best part: every single one promises views that’ll make your heart skip a beat or two.

Ready to swap your slippers for hiking boots? And trade that popcorn for some trail mix. Dive in, and let’s uncover 22 US hikes that might just make you believe in love at first sight (or step)! 🚶‍♂️

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Hoh River Trail 

The Hoh River Trail in Washington’s Olympic National Park is truly special. Walking through the Hoh Rainforest, you’ll be surrounded by ancient trees, delicate ferns, and soft moss. Wildlife might cross your path as you journey past the river, catching glimpses of glaciers and waterfalls against a mountain backdrop. Whether you’re up for a short stroll or a longer trek, it’s your choice. And if you fancy an overnight stay, there are spots to camp with the right permit.

Length of Hoh River Trail: Up to 37.4 miles 
Best time to do: Year-round 
Start Point: Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center

Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop 

The Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop in Colorado offers a journey like no other. As you walk around the Maroon Bells, two of America’s most iconic peaks, you’ll cross four towering mountain passes. Every step reveals beautiful alpine lakes, lush meadows, dense forests, and the chance to spot wildlife. For a truly immersive experience, consider making it a multi-day adventure, but remember to grab a permit.

Length of Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop: 26.8 miles 
Best time to do: July to September 
Start Point: Maroon Lake Trailhead 

Kalalau Trail 

The Kalalau Trail in Hawaii is both breathtaking and demanding. Winding through Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, it offers views of majestic cliffs, green valleys, tumbling waterfalls, and hidden beaches. Do be cautious, as the trail can get muddy and slippery. If you’re fit and seasoned, it’s an adventure waiting to be had. Remember, if you’re thinking of going past Hanakapiai Beach or staying overnight, you’ll need a permit.

Length of Kalalau Trail: 22 miles 
Best time to do: May to September 
Start Point: Ke’e Beach

Bright Angel Trail 

The Bright Angel Trail in Arizona’s Grand Canyon is a journey from the top edge straight to the river below. As you walk, you’ll be stepping past layers of ancient rock and spots soaked in history, all while soaking in breathtaking vistas. Whether you want a short walk or a deeper exploration is up to you. If the canyon calls you to stay a night, there’s camping at Indian Garden or Bright Angel — just make sure you have a permit.

Length of Bright Angel Trail: Up to 19.9 miles 
Best time to do: October to May 
Start Point: Bright Angel Trailhead

Conundrum Hot Springs 

The Conundrum Hot Springs hike in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is a hidden gem. Imagine trekking up to 11,200 feet and finding a warm, natural hot spring awaiting you, with mountains and valleys as your backdrop. It’s a challenging hike, but the moment you dip into that warm water, you’ll know it was worth every step. Just remember, if you’re planning to stay overnight, you’ll need a permit. 

Length of Conundrum Hot Springs: 17 miles 
Best time to do: July to September 
Start Point: Conundrum Creek Trailhead

Half Dome 

Half Dome in California’s Yosemite Park is a sight to behold. Imagine climbing up a massive granite structure, standing 4,800 feet tall from the valley. The final stretch has steep cables – you’ll need a permit for this bit. But trust me, the breathtaking views make every step worth it once you reach the top.

Length of Half Dome: 14 to 16 miles 
Best time to do: May to October 
Start Point: Happy Isles Trailhead 

Highline Trail 

The Highline Trail in Montana’s Glacier National Park is a breathtaking journey. As you walk alongside the Garden Wall, you’ll feel the magic of the Continental Divide and see the stark beauty that divides the park’s two halves. Your path is framed by majestic mountains, deep valleys, gleaming glaciers, and occasional wildlife sightings. If you wish, there are spots like Grinnell Glacier Overlook or Granite Park Chalet to explore, but remember, you’ll need a permit for these detours.

Length of Highline Trail: 11.8 miles 
Best time to do: July to September 
Start Point: Logan Pass Visitor Center or The Loop

Grinnell Glacier 

The Grinnell Glacier hike in Montana’s Glacier National Park is a journey close to my heart. It leads to a rare glacier, captivating lakes, and breathtaking waterfalls with mountains framing the view. As you walk, keep an eye out – you might just spot a moose, a mountain goat, or even a bear. It’s nature’s wonder in every step.

Length of Grinnell Glacier: 10.6 miles 
Best time to do: July to September 
Start Point: Many Glacier Hotel or Swiftcurrent Lake Boat Dock

Cascade Canyon Trail 

The Cascade Canyon Trail has my heart in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park. As you wander through this glacial valley, magnificent peaks rise all around you. You’re treated to views of serene lakes, tumbling waterfalls, vibrant wildflowers, and perhaps a critter or two. If you feel adventurous, consider trekking further to Lake Solitude or Paintbrush Divide, just remember to get a permit.

Length of Cascade Canyon Trail: 9.7 miles 
Best time to do: June to September 
Start Point: Jenny Lake Visitor Center or Jenny Lake Boat Dock

Old Rag Mountain 

Old Rag Mountain in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park holds a special place in my heart. Reaching the top, you’re rewarded with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and distant Piedmont. The trail, with its fun rock scrambles, does ask for a bit of climbing spirit. It’s a popular spot, especially on weekends, so if you’re seeking solitude, consider visiting on a weekday.

Length of Old Rag Mountain: 9 miles 
Best time to do: March to November 
Start Point: Old Rag Parking Area 

Franconia Ridge Loop 

The Franconia Ridge Loop in New Hampshire’s White Mountains holds a special place in my heart. As you walk, you’ll touch the skies atop three majestic peaks: Mount Lincoln, Mount Lafayette, and Little Haystack Mountain. This trail, a piece of the Appalachian Trail, gives you breathtaking views of distant mountains and deep valleys. It’s nature’s canvas at its best. 

Length of Franconia Ridge Loop: 8.9 miles 
Best time to do: June to October 
Start Point: Falling Waters Trailhead or Old Bridle Path Trailhead

Guadalupe Peak Trail 

The Guadalupe Peak Trail in Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a gem. It leads you up to Texas’ highest point, Guadalupe Peak, standing tall at 8,751 feet. From there, you’re gifted with breathtaking views of mountains and the vast desert. Keep in mind this trail isn’t for the faint-hearted; it’s demanding and open to the elements. But if you’re fit and the skies are clear, the experience is unforgettable.

Length of Guadalupe Peak Trail: 8.5 miles 
Best time to do: October to April 
Start Point: Pine Springs Trailhead

Harding Icefield Trail 

The Harding Icefield Trail in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park is a journey I’ll never forget. As I trekked closer to the vast expanse of the Harding Icefield, the sight of its ice covering an area beyond my imagination left me in awe. With every step, the beauty of Exit Glacier, open alpine meadows, and curious wildlife enriched the experience. It’s a hike that speaks to the heart.

Length of Harding Icefield Trail: 8.2 miles 
Best time to do: July to September 
Start Point: Exit Glacier Nature Center 

Observation Point 

Observation Point is one of the best hikes in Zion National Park in Utah. This hike takes you to one of the highest viewpoints in the park, where you can see the entire Zion Canyon, including Angels Landing and the Virgin River. The hike involves a steep climb through switchbacks, slot canyons, and pine forests. 

Length of Observation Point: 8 miles 
Best time to do: Spring or Fall 
Start Point: Weeping Rock Trailhead

Devil’s Garden Loop 

The Devil’s Garden Loop is one of the best hikes in Arches National Park in Utah. This hike takes you to eight of the park’s most impressive arches, including Landscape Arch, Double O Arch, and Dark Angel. The trail is mostly easy, but some challenging sections involve scrambling over slick rock and narrow ledges. 

Length of Devil’s Garden Loop: 7.8 miles
Best time to do: March to May or September to November 
Start Point: Devil’s Garden Trailhead 

Skyline Trail 

The Skyline Trail is a loop trail that takes you around the Paradise area of Mount Rainier National Park in Washington. This trail offers spectacular views of Mount Rainier, the highest peak in the Cascade Range, as well as alpine meadows, waterfalls, glaciers, and wildlife. You will also pass by Panorama Point, a popular viewpoint that offers a 360-degree panorama of the park. 

Length of Skyline Trail: 6.2 miles 
Best time to do: July to September 
Start Point: Paradise Visitor Center

Angels Landing 

Angels Landing is one of the most famous and thrilling hikes in Zion National Park in Utah. This hike takes you to the top of a narrow rock formation that rises 1,488 feet above the canyon floor. The final section of the hike involves climbing along a steep ridge with chains to hold on to. The views from the summit are breathtaking and well worth the effort. 

Length of Angels Landing: 5.4 miles 
Best time to do: Spring or Fall 
Start Point: The Grotto Trailhead

Lost Mine Trail 

The Lost Mine Trail is one of the best hikes in Big Bend National Park in Texas. This hike takes you to a scenic overlook on the Chisos Mountains, where you can see panoramic views of the desert landscape, including Casa Grande Peak, Juniper Canyon, and Pine Canyon. The trail is named after a legendary lost mine that was supposedly located somewhere along the ridge. 

Length of Lost Mine Trail: 4.8 miles 
Best time to do: October to April 
Start Point: Lost Mine Trail Parking Area

Kilauea Iki Trail 

The Kilauea Iki Trail is one of the best hikes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. This hike takes you into the crater of Kilauea Iki, a former lava lake that erupted in 1959 and left behind a solidified lava floor. You will also see steam vents, cinder cones, and rainforests along the way. The trail is mostly easy but has some steep sections and can be hot and dry. 

Length of Kilauea Iki Trail: 4 miles 
Best time to do: Year-round 
Start Point: Kilauea Iki Overlook or Thurston Lava Tube Parking Lot

Mist Trail 

The Mist Trail is one of the most beautiful and popular hikes in Yosemite National Park in California. This hike takes you to two of the most impressive waterfalls in the park, Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall, where you will get sprayed by the mist from the falls. You can also continue to Half Dome or Little Yosemite Valley with a permit. 

Length of Mist Trail: 3 to 7 miles 
Best time to do: April to July 
Start Point: Happy Isles Trailhead

Fiery Furnace 

The Fiery Furnace is one of the best hikes in Arches National Park in Utah. This hike takes you into a labyrinth of sandstone fins, arches, and canyons that resemble a fiery furnace. The hike is fun and adventurous but requires some navigation and scrambling skills. You will also need a permit or a ranger-guided tour to enter the area. 

Length of Fiery Furnace: 3 miles 
Best time to do: March to May or September to November 
Start Point: Fiery Furnace Parking Area

Precipice Trail 

The Precipice Trail is one of the most exciting and challenging hikes in Acadia National Park in Maine. This hike takes you to the summit of Champlain Mountain, the second-highest peak in the park, via a steep and exposed route that involves iron rungs, ladders, and railings. The views from the top are spectacular and rewarding. 

Length of Precipice Trail: 2.5 miles 
Best time to do: June to October 
Start Point: Precipice Trail Parking Area

How to Choose the Perfect Trail for Your Run

How To Picking The Right Trail

Conclusion:

These are just some of the many amazing hikes that you can find in the US. You will find it here whether you are looking for a short and easy stroll, a challenging and rewarding climb, or a multi-day backpacking adventure. Hiking is a great way to explore the natural beauty and diversity of the US and improve your physical and mental health. So what are you waiting for? Grab your hiking boots, pack your snacks, and get ready to hit the trails. You will not regret it. Happy hiking!


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