“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts.” ~ Mark Twain
After more than a year of COVID-19 led pandemic, the world needs to travel more than ever. And if you are living in the U.S., you don’t have to travel too far. With diverse landscapes ranging from lush green forests to rocky mountain passes and ridgelines, the U.S. features some of the top hiking trails in the world.
Having said that, here are the 10 best hiking trails in the U.S. you should definitely give a shot to escape the pandemic blues.
10 Best Hiking Trails In The U.S.
1. South Kaibab Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
One of the greatest ways to see the Grand Canyon is to hike the South Kaibab Trail. This trail descends a series of steep, giving you a sense of the canyon’s enormity as you gaze into its deep views. The views are spectacular straight from the brink of the canyon, but they continue to change and grow with each step down the trail.
There are two significant turnaround points for the hikers: Cedar Ridge and Skeleton Point. Cedar Ridge is a three-mile round-trip climb, and Skeleton Point is a six-mile round-trip hike. Cedar Ridge is a fantastic place to stop on a hot summer day. While the entire trail is infamous for its lack of shade, Cedar Ridge provides a little break before beginning your walkout.
To enter the National Park, you must pay an entry charge of $35 per car or $20 per person.
2. Ocean Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Hikers of all levels will enjoy this family-friendly seaside ramble. The Ocean Trail offers breathtaking vistas of the rugged Northeastern coast, as well as the opportunity to hear the sea roar as it tumbles into Thunder Head. This cave is one of the hiking trails most well-known in rock formations.
This path serves as a jumping-off point for many other paths in Acadia National Park if you want to add mileage or adventure to your hike. You’ll be able to make a one-of-a-kind hiking loop by going up to Gorham Mountain or the Beehive.
Acadia National Park has a $30 vehicle entrance fee and a $15 individual entrance charge. This trail is open all year long. The granite path can become extremely icy in the winter, so plan and bring trekking poles.
3. Mohonk Labyrinth And Lemon Squeeze, New Paltz, New York
This is one of the hiking trails that begins at the historic Mohonk Mountain House, which has miles of hiking paths. Follow trails through the grounds, passing by gardens and gazebos until reaching the Labyrinth, a rocky scramble that twists and turns through a maze of boulders. The ‘Lemon Squeeze’ final barrier will put your claustrophobia to the limit as you climb a ladder suspended between two rocks.
This pathway is located on private property at the Mohonk Mountain House; there is a $22 admission fee per person to visit the grounds. Weekends and holidays see a rise in day-pass prices. Hiking trail passes are not available in advance.
4. Vesper Peak, North Cascades, Washington
Vesper Peak is a hidden gem in the North Cascades, offering a pick-your-own-adventure path with spectacular hiking on massive slabs of white granite. It’s nestled among a sea of granite ridgelines and deep blue alpine lakes in the middle of the Cascade Range. At the summit, you’ll be greeted by 360-degree views and a rainbow of colors.
To stop at the trailhead, you’ll need an Interagency Pass or a Northwest Forest Pass. Before you begin your journey, make sure to sign the trail register.
5. Clouds Rest, Yosemite National Park, California
Clouds Rest is a spectacular alternative to Half Dome, but without the crowds or the inconvenient permission system. Hikers ascending the cables on Half Dome’s rounded back may be visible as you glance down at Half Dome and the entire Yosemite Valley. Although there are no cables on this hike, Clouds Rest offers enough excitement.
Yosemite National Park has an admission fee of $35 per car or $20 per person.
6. Monarch Lake to Crater Lake, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado
This diverse trail showcases the best that Colorado Rockies have to offer. You’ll begin at Monarch Lake and follow the walkthrough meadows of wildflowers, passing by cascading creeks. As you weave through open meadows, keep an eye out for animals and moose, and enjoy the waterfalls that punctuate the trail.
Overnight visits in the Indian Peaks Wilderness require permits, which can be reserved in advance. At trailheads in the Arapaho National Recreation Area, vehicles must pay a charge to park. Passes from the Interagency and National Park Service are accepted.
7. Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
This small trail appears to have been carved directly out of a cliff face, dangling precariously on the edge of the Continental Divide’s west slope. It offers panoramic mountain views of Glacier National Park’s Logan Pass area. You walk via small hiking trails, past a mountain lodge, and near to precipitous drop-offs.
To enter the National Park, you must pay an admission charge of $35 per car or $20 per person.
8. Paria Canyon And Buckskin Gulch, Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, Utah
This unique region of the United States is defined by narrow slot canyons created by millions of years of water flowing through towering sandstone cliffs. Waves of light move across the red, orange, and golden rock. Paria Canyon is located deep within the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness in Southwestern Utah’s renowned canyon landscape. When you walk along the San Diego river, natural arches and circular amphitheaters rise above you.
Any overnight stay in Paria Canyon requires a permit, so make your bookings ahead of time. Only twenty overnight visitors are allowed into the canyon each day, making these permits extremely competitive. Fill out a self-serve day-use permit at the trailhead if you want to go for a day hike into Paria Canyon.
9. Mount Rogers Virginia
In the southwestern Blue Ridge Mountains, close to the North Carolina border, Virginia’s tallest peak climbs to 5,728 feet. It’s a 4.5-mile hike to the top, partly following the Appalachian Trail, starting at Massie Gap in Grayson Highlands State Park. It can be covered in a day, and the level of hiking is moderate.
10. Tongue Mountain Loop, New York
The Tongue peninsula protrudes out into Lake George, its five peaks standing in stark contrast to the area’s bustling resort cities. Hikers focus on a 13-mile loop around the bottom half of the peninsula, which affords unparalleled views of the lake and its many islands, even though paths crisscross the peninsula. The level of hiking trails is moderate.