The Best Hiking Trails in America
Do you love hiking? Do you love being outdoors enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature – the giant redwoods, waterfalls and granite mountain walls? These are things that you don’t see inside the four corners of your home.
There’s something incredibly fantastic about feeling the earth beneath your feet or standing on the edge of the cliff. There is some simplicity to hiking, having everything you need on your back, and being in complete commune with your surroundings.
There are no distractions. There are no modern conveniences that people have gotten used to having in their daily lives. Below are the best hiking and running trails in America.
Pacific Coast Trail
If you’re interested in exploring and seeing a wide area of the western United States, the Pacific Coast Trail is for you. The trail covers over 2650 miles. You’ll pass through three states, 24 national forests, 1000 lakes, seven national parks, 19 canyons and 60 major mountain passes. This trail was first explored by some hiking groups from YMCA in 1930s. Eventually, the trail was secured into one single trail. It is varied though, and it passes through several ecozones in North America. There are some brave hikers who actually take on this whole length of the trail.
If you would like to see the span of the eastern United States, you might want to explore the Appalachian Trail. Like the PCT, this isn’t just a spot. It actually includes a series of spots. The whole trail stretches from Georgia to Maine. It is over 2178 miles which covers about 12 states, 6 national parks and 8 national forests. This makes the Appalachian Trail the longest trail in the country. The trail was completed in 1937. There were over 6000 hikers that helped maintain the trail. If you would like to complete this trail, you need to plan ahead.
Grand Canyon National Park
There are over 5 million people that pass through the gates of the Grand Canyon. If you would like to take on the Grand Canyon, you need to know a few things first. Day hikers do not realize that traipsing through the canyon would wear them out. Do not start your hike with a tough downhill descent. This can make your hike even more difficult. You also need to bring a lot of water with you especially if you plan to do the hike in the summer. This is a long trail. In fact, it covers about 15 trails which lead into the canyon. You might want to secure your permit if you’re going to spend the night in the canyon.
Yosemite National Park
Most of the country’s national parks are gorgeous, but this one definitely takes the cake. This is definitely quite spectacular. The Yosemite National Park is huge. It is roughly the size of the entire Rhode Island. It has over 800 miles of hiking trails. This is just perfect for any ardent hiker. The park receives about 3.5 million visits each year. The park has dozens of trails, so you have options if you plan to explore by foot. There are areas with dense forests, lakes, rivers, mountains – all packed with wildlife.
Glacier National Park
With over 730 miles of marked trails to explore on foot, this park is definitely a hiker’s paradise. It is a quite popular destination amongst people who love to hike. The trail is known for its impressive sights, alpine lakes, wildlife and mountain glaciers. There are about 26 glaciers today. You will need a back country permit to hike overnight.
John Muir Trail
John Muir is a naturalist and founder of The Sierra Club, a conservation organization. At age 26, he ended up in Yosemite where he protested the human impact on the area. He was instrumental in converting the area into a national park.
Ten years after his death, the state started the construction of the John Muir Trail. After 23 years, it has become one of the best trails in the country. Hikers are treated to canyons, granite cliffs, mountain lakes and mountain peaks. The hiking season runs from June to September.
Zion National Park
To explore the most beautiful cliffs and canyons in the country, you should give Zion National park a try. You will find diverse ecology when you go exploring on foot. You need to plan ahead if you want to go on an overnight excursion. You can choose to go on an easy day hike where you could enjoy the waterfalls, rivers and canyon walls. Zion Canyon has well-traveled trails which are frequented by hikers, but the park has different kinds of trails for different kinds of hikers. The Zion Narrows place you in the base of the highest and narrowest canyon walls. There are parts that are so narrow you might have to remove your backpack. You will literally creep through some areas of the trail. You might want to avoid this if you are claustrophobic.
Arches National Park
If you are a fan of desert hiking, you might want to explore the beauty of Arches National Park, located in Moab, Utah. There are over 2000 sandstones arches to discover. These are definitely a sight to behold. Many of the trails in this park are considerably easy hike. There are no steep cliffs and massive mountaintop ascents, but you would still get all the spectacular views. If you want a slightly moderate or difficult hike, the park has steep and rocky trails as well. You can try the Devil’s Garden Trail. This takes about eight arches.
Mount Whitney is about 3 hours from Los Angeles. This is the tallest mountain peak in the lower 48 and it has over 100 year old trail. If you want to hike to a mountain peak, you will need to do the 22 mile round-trip hike. Over 16000 people attempt to reach the summit, but only half of this number actually reaches the peak. Hiking the summit will have you traverse through river crossings, switchbacks and slick boulders. You would actually have to make your way through an actual snowfield before you could reach the summit. Once you reach the summit, you can be able to enjoy the 360 degree view before you go back down again.
Denali National Park
If you want to experience an even more awesome adventure, you should venture into Alaska and explore the Denali National Park. This is not like the usual national park. Most of the hiking you’ll have to do is trail-less. This is the true backcountry hiking experience. You will be forging your own path. You will have to brave uneven and dangerous terrain. You will have to go through streams that you may not be able to cross. The brush could be so thick. It would be so hard to go around. Because of its dangerous nature, it is not something you would recommend for beginners or weekend enthusiast.
Pacific Coast Trail: Michael via Flickr
Appalachian Trail: Ken Lund via Flickr
John Muir Trail: Oakley Originals via Flickr
Mount Whitney: Miguel Vieira via Flickr