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Adventure is out there.
You may have believed this all your life and in fact have made several plans to find out just what is out there in store for you. But somehow life finds several ways to keep you from exploring the world beyond the usual trails of everyday existence.
Fret no more and let us guide you in choosing where to visit to hike your way out of an adventure-less lifestyle. Let the explorer out and get ready to discover the best hiking trails the US has to offer. From rugged mountains to lush forests, from snow-covered territory to rock-laden desserts, you will not want to miss any of them.
Just make sure that you go hiking well prepared with the right equipment! Take the right clothing, hiking boots, enough water and food with you! Check out our ’10 Best’ articles of Hiking Boots and Sleeping Bags.
Harding Icefield Trail – Kenai Fjords, National Park, Alaska
8.2 miles, 6-8 hours round trip
Ever wondered what the world looked like during the ice age? The top of the Harding Icefield Trail lets you see just that through a seemingly endless view of ice and snow. The hike takes you from the valley floor through hardwood forests and heather filled meadows and on to the top of the Icefield.
Black bear sighting is a possibility and hikers should take precaution. The good thing is you can ask for a ranger-led guided hike.
Kalalau Trail – Kauai, Hawaii
11 miles, full day
If snow country isn’t your thing and you’d rather bask in the sun or go swimming, then the Kalalau Trail is for you. It starts from one beach (Ke’e Beach) and ends with another (Kalalau Beach) and the path is strewn with waterfalls and streams. The refreshing tropical landscape is home to both rare, native vegetation and introduced plants.
Hikers can opt not to go through the full trail, concentrate on certain spots like the Hanakapiai Beach or Hanakapiai Falls, and go back for a round trip instead.
Kitchen Mesa Trail – Ghost Ranch, New Mexico
5 miles, 3-4 hours roundtrip
Are you an art enthusiast and want to discover how nature inspires artists in their craft?
Discover the rugged terrain of the Kitchen Mesa Trail where you can visit the landscape that inspired Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings.
You will see the Pedernal Mountain and Abiquiu Lake in the distance which she has painted several times. If you’re very familiar with her works you can stop at places where she most probably did her paintings. A visit in the summer will reward you a view of blooming wildflowers and visiting migratory birds.
Redwood Creek Trail – Redwood National Park, California
17 miles, full day
If you care much for forest walks, go the second most visited trail in Redwood National Park. It not only boasts of the great redwoods but also of several other trees like red alders, maples, spruces and even Douglas-Fir trees. You will also pass through meadows where blackberry brambles as high as 12 feet can be found.
Pass through the creek using the seasonal bridges although they can easily be forded except in the winter. After a long hike up the creek, you will enter the Tall Tress Grove and marvel at the big redwoods. You can camp for the night at Redwood Creek and head back the next day.
Nankoweap Trail – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
28 miles, 3-4 days round trip
Reserve the Nankoweap Trail for later when you have gained much hiking experience as it is unmaintained and as rugged as it gets fit for experts. Located on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon National Park, it lets you explore the wild parts of the Canyon on 3-4 days of backpacking on a trail that descends for more than 6,000 feet.
You will see majestic sandstone cliffs and redwall limestone and if you go in the autumn, the trees at the trailhead are all in their fantastic fall colors. The best part of the hike is camping near the Colorado River not far from Nankoweap Rapids where you can also explore the ancient granaries.
Be sure to have enough water supplies all throughout the trail and to have it filtered.
Greenstone Ridge Trail – Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
42.2 miles, 5 days
When you are ready to cross the line from beginner to life-time backpacker, head to the Greenstone Ridge Trail and be broken in to the hiking habit. It is a forested trail where you can find maples and birches and starts from Lookout Louise in the east and goes on to Windigo on the west end.
The path has eight peaks located at higher than 1,300 feet of which Mount Desor is the highest. There are some wolves and moose although scarce. Shoreline pebbles and semiprecious greenstone, from which the place is named, can be found. Also, get ready to cross creeks and swamps.
Red River Gorge – Kentucky
If you want a variety of activities aside from hiking, head over to Red River Gorge where you can also experience camping, horseback riding, canoeing and wildlife viewing. It boasts of diverse flora and fauna and some are even endangered.
Hike along the Silvermine Arch Trail which goes through a wooded area up to the Silvermine Arch where you can see a large waterfall. Or visit the Natural Bridge, a sandstone rock bridge 65 feet high and 78 feet long.
Alum Cave Trail – Mount LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
11 miles round trip, overnight stay
Fancy sleeping on a mountaintop overnight? Then go conquer Mount LeConte through the Alum Cave Trail. Pass through stunning views and curious geological features, among them steep ledges, small waterfalls and the Alum Cave itself. Peregrine falcons can be found among spruce-fir forests and if visiting in the summer, there are rhododendrons along the way.
Upon reaching the summit, head up to Cliff Top or Myrtle Point to get the best views. Then get a restful overnight stay at LeConte Lodge right at the top of Mount LeConte, the third highest peak among the Smokies.
John Muir Trail – Sierra Nevada Mountain, Yosemite Valley, California
212 miles, 2-3 weeks
If you are an experienced hiker seeking for solitude, travel the length of the John Muir Trail, a hiker’s heaven where you will meet no roads for 2 or 3 weeks depending on your pace. Great granite structures, striking blue lakes and alpines are among its main attractions.
You will also pass through meadows and valleys, ford through several creeks and, even in early July, contend with icy slopes if there was heavy snowing during winter. It’s the ultimate long hike only to be had in America’s most famous trail.
Precipice Trail – Acadia National Park, Maine
1.6 miles, 3-5 hours round trip
Dare to clear sheer cliffs, boulders, ledge walks in the most challenging hike in Acadia National Park. The Precipice Trail is for those with no fear of heights. It is a non-technical climb but is still rated as strenuous with several steep locations that require you to crawl and scramble.
But the stunning views of the Maine coastline seen along cliffs and forests make the trek worth it. The summit affords a breath-taking scene of the vast ocean and also of Dorr Mountain.
To sum it up, this is going to be an awesome bucket list! Enjoy the hiking!