The 17 Most Amazing Hiking Trails in the U.S. (Did Your Favorite Make the List?)

There’s no better way to experience the United States’ abundant outdoor splendor.
Updated Sept. 6, 2023
Woman hiking

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With its diverse landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty, the United States offers an abundance of incredible hiking trails.

From rugged mountains and deep canyons to serene coastlines and ancient forests, the following trails provide a gateway to some of the most awe-inspiring outdoor experiences in the world — all within the bounds of the U.S.

Book your trip (ideally with a card that allows you to earn travel rewards), lace up your boots, and prepare to embark on an unforgettable adventure.

Half Dome (California)

Alexander Demyanenko/Adobe yosemite half dome at sunset

Ascending Half Dome in Yosemite National Park is a challenging and rewarding experience.

Peaking at 8,000 feet above sea level, this strenuous hike involves climbing steep granite stairs and navigating cables to reach the summit — and its breath-stealing view.

A permit is required to hike this trail. Hikers should have advanced hiking skills, be comfortable with heights, and pack proper safety equipment.

Zion Narrows (Utah)

stuart/Adobe the narrows of zion national park

For a unique adventure, the Zion Narrows provides an unforgettable experience of hiking through the narrow slot canyons of Zion National Park. Hikers wade through the Virgin River, surrounded by towering sandstone walls.

Any interested hikers should have moderate-level hiking skills, bring trekking poles and footwear with traction, and be prepared for potential flash floods.

Appalachian Trail (Eastern United States)

jonbilous/Adobe Sunset on the Appalachian Trail

This legendary trail stretches over 2,190 miles, traversing 14 states along the Appalachian Mountains. Hikers will encounter breathtaking vistas, quaint trailside towns and shelters, and diverse wildlife.

Proper gear, including sturdy hiking boots and lightweight backpacks, is essential. This trail requires a high level of physical endurance and backpacking experience.

Pacific Crest Trail (West Coast)

Dustin/Adobe The Pacific Crest trail

Stretching 2,650 miles from the border of Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail offers hikers the opportunity to experience the stunning beauty of the West Coast.

From desert landscapes to snow-capped mountains, hikers should prepare for extreme temperature and terrain variations on this trail.

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Trail (Arizona)

Ashley/Adobe rim-to-rim trail of grand canyon

This iconic trail offers hikers an unparalleled view of the Grand Canyon. Spanning approximately 24 miles, it requires careful planning and preparation due to extreme temperatures and rugged terrain.

Adequate hydration and sun protection are crucial here. Hikers should have intermediate-level hiking skills and be comfortable with steep ascents and descents.

The Wonderland Trail (Washington)

Tara/Adobe wonderland trail

Circling the majestic Mount Rainier, the Wonderland Trail offers stunning alpine scenery and diverse ecosystems.

This challenging trail covers approximately 93 miles and requires careful planning due to unpredictable weather conditions. Hikers should have intermediate- to advanced-level skills and be prepared for river crossings.

Kalalau Trail (Hawaii)

Fominayaphoto/Adobe  ocean view in Kalalau trail Kauai Island Hawaii

Located on the stunning Nāpali Coast of Kauai, the Kalalau Trail is a breathtaking hike that leads to secluded beaches and dramatic cliffs.

This 22-mile out-and-back trail is physically demanding, with steep ascents and descents. Hikers should have a high level of fitness, be comfortable with heights, and carry ample water and supplies.

Angels Landing (Utah)

Chris/Adobe Angel's Landing in Utah

A highlight of Zion National Park, Angels Landing offers a thrilling and challenging 5.4-mile hike with sweeping panoramic views, peaking at around 1,488 feet.

This trail involves steep switchbacks and a narrow ridge with sheer drop-offs. Hikers should have advanced hiking skills, a head for heights, and use extreme caution.

It’s worth noting that you’ll need to apply for a permit with the National Parks Service to do this hike.

The Presidential Traverse (New Hampshire)

Galusha Photography/Adobe sunset over kancamagus

This demanding hike in the White Mountains takes hikers across the Presidential Range, offering stunning views and challenging terrain. It has a point-to-point distance of around 20 miles.

With unpredictable weather, hikers should be prepared for sudden changes and carry appropriate gear. Advanced hiking skills, navigation abilities, and physical endurance are necessary.

The Enchantments (Washington)

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Located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, the Enchantments is a pristine area with alpine lakes, towering peaks, and wildflowers.

This 18-mile one-way trail requires a permit and careful planning — but the vistas are worth it.

Hikers should have intermediate- to advanced-level skills, be comfortable with off-trail navigation, and carry necessary camping and safety equipment.

The Wave (Arizona)

Michael Whitworth/Adobe the wave

Nestled within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, the Wave is a surreal sandstone formation that attracts hikers from around the world.

Access is limited to 64 people per day, requiring a permit obtained through a lottery system. Hikers should prepare to navigate a challenging landscape and bring plenty of water.

The Superior Hiking Trail (Minnesota)

Daniel Thornberg/Adobe hiking trail around divide lake

Stretching over 310 miles along Lake Superior, this trail offers diverse landscapes, including waterfalls, forests, and breathtaking overlooks.

Hikers should prepare for rugged terrain, unpredictable weather, and mosquitos. Skill levels range from easy day hikes to multi-day backpacking trips.

Delicate Arch Trail (Utah)

Christian B./Adobe sunset at delicate arch

The Delicate Arch Trail in Arches National Park is a captivating hiking experience that leads adventurers to one of the most iconic natural arches in the world.

Measuring approximately three miles round trip, this trail offers an unforgettable journey through a mesmerizing desert landscape, surrounded by towering red rock formations and vast panoramic views.

A moderate skill level is necessary for this hike.

Tuckerman Ravine Trail (New Hampshire)

haleturek.raw/Adobe tuckerman's ravine on mount washington

As the highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington offers breathtaking views and extreme weather conditions. A popular way to reach its peak is via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

This hike is recommended for experienced hikers. They should be prepared for rapidly changing weather and typical Alpine hazards.

The Lost Coast Trail (California)

ChrisOvergaard/Adobe Waterfall in the Lost Coast Trail

This remote and rugged 33.6-mile trail along California's North Coast offers hikers a sense of solitude and pristine beauty. Wildlife encounters, including sea lions, eagles, and deer, are possible.

Tides can make sections impassable, so planning is crucial. Hikers should have intermediate-level skills, be prepared for challenging terrain, and bring ample supplies.

John Muir Trail (California)

Sundry Photography/Adobe hiking trail going through redwood forest

The John Muir Trail in California offers hikers a 211-mile journey through the stunning Sierra Nevada mountains, showcasing diverse landscapes, alpine lakes, and panoramic vistas.

This trail requires a high fitness level and hiking experience due to its length and challenging terrain.

Hurricane Hill (Washington)

LoonChild/Adobe hurricane ridge

Olympic National Park is a diverse and enchanting destination in Washington State. This park offers a unique combination of temperate rainforests, rugged mountains, and a stunning coastline.

Hurricane Hill is a popular hike within the park; the steep paved trail is 3.4 miles out and back and leads to an unbeatable view of the Olympic Range, Puget Sound, and Vancouver Island.

If you’re planning a road trip to any of these hiking trails, look for ways to lower your car insurance costs. Every bit of savings adds up.

Bottom line

Monkey Business/Adobe Friends hiking

From the Appalachian Trail's awe-inspiring beauty to the Southwest's unique landscapes, the United States boasts many remarkable hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels.

A smart way to help you go on hiking trips like these is to earn travel rewards. You might even be able to visit all of these parks for free if you can accumulate enough points and miles.

Remember to prepare adequately, respect the environment, and leave no trace as you embark on these incredible adventures that will leave you with a profound appreciation for the wonders of the American wilderness.

Author Details

Adam Palasciano Adam Palasciano is a personal finance-obsessed and money-savvy individual who loves to hash out content on all things saving money. He specializes in writing millennial-friendly personal finance content, covering topics ranging from trending financial news, debt, credit cards, cryptocurrency, and more.