Welcome to the ultimate hiking bucket list for America!
From Alabama to Wyoming, these are the best hikes this beautiful country has to offer…
1. The Walls of Jericho, Alabama
Once owned by an oil tycoon, the amazing rock formations at the Walls of Jericho are breathtaking. Natural amphitheaters and caves all come together in this privately owned park for a beautiful backdrop. Located on the Alabama-Tennessee border, this hiking and camping area is actually quite accessible from much of the American South.
The most spectacular viewpoint comes at mile 3.7 on the 7 mile out-and-back trail. This is the amphitheater itself, a limestone bowl lined with small waterfalls. Supposedly, the legendary frontiersman Davy Crockett explored the area in the early 1800s too! If you’re in search of an example of the American Southeast at its finest, the Walls of Jericho are there for you.
2. Crow Pass Traverse, Alaska
Not far from Anchorage, this awesome 25-mile traverse takes you across the Chugach Mountains from Eagle River to Girdwood, or vice versa. From dense forests of pine and birth into the high alpine tundra with one of a kind views of Americas last glaciers, the Crow Pass Traverse is a bucket list hike!
Be ready for a major river crossing at the halfway point, when the trail goes over (or under?) the Eagle River, and then climbs several thousand feet up Raven Creek. And at mile 18, Raven Gorge stands out as a stunning chasm in the Alaskan rock, surrounded by snow-bound peaks.
For the extremely adventurous, there is a mountain marathon every year on this route, though naturally, it is very challenging and requires qualifications first. But for most people, the hikes on the Crow Pass Trail close to Eagle River are a wonderful way to explore the Alaskan backcountry without going too far from a bed and shower.
3. The Bright Angel Trail, Arizona
The best hike on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, the Bright Angel Trail offers unparalleled views of the Inner Canyon, and even has water points on it too. The trail is far from easy with a 4200 foot descent into the Canyon itself, but the views make it all worth it.
The Grand Canyon is one thing when seen from above, but another entirely when seen from within. Once in the Canyon itself, the experience becomes less majestic but more personal. You experience the Canyon on a far deeper level as you hike down millennia of erosion through the stone.
Be careful on this trail though. It’s quite strenuous, and though there are water points at miles 1.5 and 3, once you pass that, you’re on your own. Do not underestimate the heat in the Canyon. The National Park Service explicitly warns hikers not to attempt to hike from the Rim to the River and back in a single day.
However, this hike is amazing because it offers a different perspective on the Canyon, one not shown on most postcards. It’s worth the effort if you’re in the park!
4. Mount Magazine, Arkansas
As the highest point in the state, Mount Magazine offers some of the best views of Arkansas. Though it’s not a wilderness area by any stretch, there are many trails to pick from. You can also enjoy some of the best technical rock climbing in the region on the rock faces of the mountain.
At the summit of the 2700 foot peak you’ll find a hotel and restaurant where you can relax after a day of hiking or climbing too. The best park about Mount Magazine is the long list of trails to choose from. You can hike from dense woods to streams and lakes. And the most adventurous visitors can even hang glide from the rock formations near the summit lodge.
4. The John Muir Trail, California
One of the finest trails in the United States, the John Muir trail traverses some of the most spectacular areas one can find. From Mount Whitney to Yosemite Valley, the trail passes by numerous 14000 foot peaks through an untamed wilderness.
Stretching on for 211 miles all told, the John Muir Trail, itself mostly a part of the much longer Pacific Crest Trail, is not for the faint of heart. Elevation gain can pose issues, as can extreme weather. If you choose to hike this trail, please bring the proper equipment for the season. Emergency signaling devices are recommended.
The John Muir Trail is a magical experience that allows you to explore the American West as people saw it before it was called either ‘American’ or ‘West.’
6. Hanging Lake Trail, Colorado
Easily accessible within the White River National Forest, local Coloradans love this hike. The moderately difficult trail leads to various waterfalls and bridges and finally ends at a stunning western lake. If you’ve never been to the Rockies before, this hike is fairly close to Denver, with the trailhead just off Interstate 70.
Also, if you’ve never experienced altitude before, be aware that this hike takes you up about 1000 vertical feet, and the starting elevation is high too. If you’ve just arrived in Colorado, that ascent may take a toll on you.
And here’s the best part of this hike. It shows you the grandeur of the American West in a way simple photos on a blog miss. No image can demonstrate the real scale of those mountains. A hike like the Hanging Lake Trail is a good way to start your hiking addiction!
7. Sleeping Giant State Park, Connecticut
If you’re looking for a wonderful walk through some eastern woods, Sleeping Giant State Park may be the answer for you. In a very urban state, a lot of people assume there is little hiking, but this gem is an exception.
With a wide variety of trails on the sides of Mount Caramel, you can hike through the woods in a geologically interesting area littered with old evidence of volcanoes. Follow the tower trail up the mountainside for three miles and you’ll find the tower itself, often packed with tourists.
Looking for a peaceful jaunt in the woods? The Quinnipiac Trail is for you. Go there in the fall when the weather is cool and the leaves have turned for the best experience. A clear day can even give you a view over Long Island Sound!
8. Gordons Pond Trail, Delaware
Though it’s a short trail, Gordons Pond Trail takes you through a variety of ecological areas on the Delaware coast. Cutting through some of the best preserved wetland ecosystems in eastern North America, this trail provides a great opportunity to see wildlife.
The easy trail is both fun to bike and walk, and Gordons Pond is a beautiful patch of wild wetland directly beside the ocean. Also, once your day is done at the State Park, Rehoboth Beach isn’t too far away, so a trip to Gordons Pond fits neatly with a family vacation too.
9. Ocala North, Florida
Located within the Ocala National Forest on the north end of the state, this section of the Florida National Scenic Trail offers a hike through beautiful sand scrub forest. So many Florida ecosystems have turned into housing that it’s easy to forget that much of the state was one impenetrable swamps and forests teeming with wildlife and native tribes.
The Ocala North trail system offers both day hikes and extended backpacking trips. But be prepared for extremely hot weather and dangerous wildlife. This area is beautiful, but there is a reason original Spanish settlement in the area was limited to the coast. The Florida interior is quite inhospitable, so appreciate the views with caution.
10. Hurricane Falls Trail, Tallulah Gorge State Park, Georgia
Up in North Georgia, not far from the start of the Appalachian Trail, you can find amazing waterfalls and gorges. The Hurricane Falls Trail leads you, of course, to Hurricane Falls. From there, you’ll wind your way down to the river itself at the base of the falls.
A wooden suspension bridge hangs over some of these terraced falls and offers a hard to beat view of the water below. The park has a variety of trails for every type of outdoors person. You can hike, run, or bike out there without any issue, all at the very southern tip of Appalachia.
11. Kalalau Trail, Hawaii
Nestled in the forests beside the Pacific coast, the Kalalau Trail will guide you through some of the best scenery our nation has to offer. You will need a permit to hike the whole thing, but for less intense hikers, there are also shorter options.
This trail will take you through some of the finest untouched ecosystems left on Earth and show you to indescribable grandeur of the ancient mountains where they meet the sea. There is quite a bit of human traffic on the trail, so I recommend you hike it in the off season.
It’s a hike like no other, and that alone makes it worth it.
12. Sawtooth Lake Trail, Idaho
There’s nothing quite like a hike up to an alpine lake, and the Sawtooth Lake Trail is no exception. Not too far from Boise, this 10-mile trail takes you through rugged country in the Sawtooth Range of the Rockies.
It’s really only a moderate hike, just be prepared for the elevation gain required to actually get to the lake. The trail does switch back to reduce the pain of the climb, but it is still considerable. Once at the lake, set up your camp chair and appreciate a pristine alpine lake, a living symbol of the American West.
13. Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Illinois
Though not itself a trail, this prairie is a part of an ecosystem restoration. And best of all, there are bison. Yes, bison are back in Illinois, though of course only in limited numbers. There are other hikes in Illinois, but the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is unique for that.
The Forest Service has taken great steps towards recreating a small section of the Great Plains as they once were before American encroachment disrupted the ecosystems and peoples there. In this way, the prairie is a window into the past, an amazing achievement of restoration and recovery only an hour south of Chicago itself.
14. Charles Deam Wilderness Peninsula Trail, Indiana
Located on the South Side of Lake Monroe, the Charles Deam Wilderness Area is a beautiful expanse of forested hills and valleys. There are a variety of trails in the park, but the Peninsula Trail stands out above the others as it guides you to the lake itself.
Once there, you can enjoy anything from a picnic to a relaxed afternoon of fishing. In the fall, you can also hunt white tail deer there. Camping is allowed, and there’s even an old fire lookout tower open to the public.
So in a state not famous for its hiking, the Charles Deam Wilderness stands out as a special patch of woodland which the entire family can enjoy.
15. Ledges State Park, Iowa
Just south of Boone, Iowa, Ledges State Park may be small, but it offers a visitor a great view of bluffs and canyons along the Des Moines River and Davis Creek. The geological formations are quite impressive, especially when considering that they occur in a particularly flat section of North America.
There are about four miles of hiking trails in the park too, so hikers and runners can enjoy some peace as well. The park is probably best viewed in the fall, as the weather will be cool by then and with the leaves turning orange and red, the forest becomes something truly special.
16. The Buffalo Tracks Canyon Nature Trail, Kanopolis State Park, Kansas
Located in Kanopolis State Park, the Buffalo Tracks trail offers you access to some of the roughest terrain in Kansas. The trail is, of course, named for the buffalo tracks that you can still see worn into the rocks themselves. Though the herds longer make their great migrations across the Plains, here you can find history still intact.
Even better, there are caves in the park where it is speculated the natives slaughtered buffalo. The ancient heritage of the area is truly amazing, and the hiking’s not bad either!
17. Mammoth Cave, Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Miles upon miles of trails loop and wind through the forests of Mammoth Cave National Park. You can hike them, bike them, or even ride them on horseback.
But the real feature of this park is the caves. You need to buy tickets, and the National Park Service advises you to make advance reservations too. The hike is actually somewhat strenuous, but the guided cave tours are spectacular. Just remember to bring water and a snack
The caves really did earn their names, mammoth. And the history of the area, from natives to a saltpeter mine in the War of 1812 add depth and meaning to the caves as well.
18. Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve, Louisiana
An untouched wetland ecosystem once inhabited by a legendary pirate. Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve offers the visitor an amazing chance to see the Gulf Coast as it used to be. It’s a forest of impenetrable vegetation and swampland.
The alligators add viewing opportunities, but please don’t get too close! Bring bug spray and enjoy hiking the boardwalks over terrain that could stop an army.
In the park, you feel as though you’re in a different world, and it’s not even far from New Orleans!
19. Gorham Mountain Loop, Acadia National Park, Maine
Offering an unbeatable view of the ocean and parts of the mainland, this trail is the perfect intro to hiking in Acadia National Park. It’s quite easy and even those with disabilities can hike this trail.
The Park has quite a few more challenging trails, so use this one to see how you do. And stop for a moment around sunrise or sunset to appreciate the absolute majesty of one of the finest parks in eastern North America.
The trailhead is only a short way from Bar Harbor as well, so couple this hike in with a fishing or boating trip for a perfect vacation.
20. Maryland Heights, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, Maryland
Steeped in history, this moderate trail up the Heights themselves offers the best possible view of the Potomac River and of Harpers Ferry below. The site of the first battle between Northern and Southern troops in Northern Territory in the American Civil War, Harpers Ferry was a critical strategic town, and as such, it’s a must see place for any history aficionado.
The trail up the rocky outcrop takes you past batteries of artillery pieces from the Civil War, as both sides tried to seize the Heights in order to take and hold Harpers Ferry.
The guns are silent now, leaving harpers Ferry and the Heights to the hikers and historians.
21. Mount Greylock, Massachusetts
Though it’s only 3491 feet tall, Mount Greylock is the highest point in the state. And the views from the peak are… breathtaking. On a clear day you can see much of the state. The mountain is far from being a pristine wilderness though. There is a tower on the summit.
The hike itself is not too hard, and of course, the surrounding Berkshires offer nearly limitless hiking and fishing for anyone interested in spending time outdoors. This is the old Massachusetts, far removed from Boston’s sprawl.
22. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
With over one hundred miles of hiking trails… I cannot recommend one in particular. They are all amazing. Perched on the north side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an amazing wilderness area with something for everyone. Looking for a couple of day hikes and car camping? Got it.
Want to backpack? You can do that too. Hunting and fishing? Indeed. It’s one of the best destinations in the United States, made even better for the remarkable lack of crowding, maybe because of its remote location.
23. The Boundary Waters, Minnesota
With over one million acres and 1200 miles of canoe trails, the Boundary Waters offer a one of a kind canoeing opportunity. There are hiking trails too, but come one, if you’ve come to the Boundary Waters, you’re here for the water!
You can canoe for a single afternoon for weeks on end, it’s really up to you. Just make sure you have an accurate and detailed map, as lake navigation can be difficult, especially if the weather turns foul.
The Boundary Waters are legendary for their watersports, so take advantage of that explore the vast Minnesota wilderness!
24. The Tour Road, Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi
The Vicksburg Tour Road guides visitors around the site of one of the most brutal sieges in American history. Besieged by Ulysses Grant’s Union Army in 1863, the Confederacy’s final link with the west was severed in July of that year.
And now the 16-mile Tour Road serves as a way for visitors, in vehicles or on foot, to explore the historic site. The best way to walk the battlefield is to use the road as a guide, while spending most of your time exploring off of the road to see the battlefield close up.
Though a battlefield can often be a grim sight, as it conjures up memories of loss and pain, Vicksburg remains as a special scar in American history, from a time when the nation ripped itself apart. Hiking this piece of history may well be the best way to experience our past.
25. The Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, Missouri
Stretching from the Mississippi River in Missouri to the Pacific coast along the Columbia, the Lewis and Clark Trail is a national epic. The Corps of Discovery took three years to travel across the continent and back, and you can retrace their momentous steps.
You can travel the Missouri section of the trail by foot, bike, car, or boat. Of course, travel by boat would be the most historical way to experience this trail, but the Missouri can be a difficult river when going upstream.
Pick a section of the trail and hike it! You can even just make it a day trip to a particular site of interest. Starting in Missouri is a good way to catch the bug and end up walking to the Pacific!
26. Trout Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
From the spectacular Lake McDonald Lodge, the Trout Lake Trail takes you up to Trout Lake, of course! The trail links in with the entire network of Lake McDonald Valley trails and also connects you to the back country areas of the park.
The trail is a fantastic introduction to the park for anyone looking for a real wilderness experience. Explore even further afield from Trout Lake, or get a back country permit and set a fishing camp up on the lakeshore.
There are endless activities in the Lake McDonald Valley, and the Northern Rockies stand as some of the most awe inspiring places on the continent.
27. Hidden Lake Trail, Fontenelle Forest, Nebraska
Directly beside the Missouri River, Hidden Lake remains true to its name in a little visited part of the Fontenelle Forest. You hike through the Great Marsh, well not through the actual marsh, on a trail over the marsh. And then onto the lake itself.
The area is a beautiful wetland, perfect for anyone interested in birdwatching. The forest staff have even provided a birdwatching blind for interested people. The actual Hidden Lake Trail is a bit out of the way in the forest, but it’s absolutely worth the extra hiking for the amazing seclusion.
28. The Tahoe Rim Trail, Nevada
Running the entire circumference of the largest alpine lake in America, the Tahoe Rim Trail offers some of the best hiking and biking in the west. The entire stretches on for 165 miles, with about half of that open to bikes.
Lake Tahoe is one of the most beautiful lakes on the planet, with impressive mountains rising directly from the pristine blue water.
The lake itself offers almost limitless outdoors activities from paddling and fishing to hiking and skiing. A trip to Lake Tahoe is a once in a lifetime experience, so pack along your best camera and some friends and have fun!
29. Mount Monadnock, Monadnock State Park, New Hampshire
Rising up to 3165 feet, Mount Monadnock stands as an impressive granite peak surrounded by highland country. The view from the peak is incredible, especially in the fall.
Unlike the much more popular Mount Washington, you cannot drive to the top, and thankfully, there is no tacky gift shop at the summit either.
Monadnock is simply a beautiful peak in a beautiful state, and the views from the peak make it absolutely worthwhile for any hiker in New England.
30. Pinwheel Vista Trail, New Jersey
Often called the Stairway to Heaven, this trail takes the hiker to the Pinwheel Vista at the end of the 7-mile route. Though New Jersey is most famous for urban areas, this climb offers amazing views deep into the Kittatinny Mountains.
Even better, this trail offers access to the Appalachian Trail itself. The views of the Garden State offered on this route are the best that you can ever hope to get, so get out there and hike. Beware of black bears though, many people from cities underestimate wildlife.
31. Trampas Lake Trail, New Mexico
An alpine lake in New Mexico? That’s right, there’s a lot more to the west than simple high desert. This 12-mile hike is surprisingly hard, but the views are worth it. At the end, you’ll find yourself at the beautiful Trampas Lake.
It’s a classic hike of the Southern Rockies, and the fishing isn’t bad either! Just make sure you’re in good enough shape to complete the hike. As a day trip, it would be quite the ordeal, so this route is best as an overnight.
So go experience the high alpine of New Mexico and appreciate the beauty many forget.
32. The Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, New York
As its name suggests, this amazing trail takes you to a fantastic gorge and waterfall. Nestled among the Finger Lakes, themselves spectacular, Watkins Glen may be New York’s best state park. The hiking is not too difficult and the trail guides you through amazing woodlands.
The gorge itself stands out as a striking rock formation, and you can either camp or rent a room for the night. The trip here makes a good addition to any Finger Lakes trek, and would also serve as a good introduction to the outdoors for a new hiker.
33. The Seven Sisters, Black Mountain, North Carolina
A classic and accessible hike out of Black Mountain, the Seven Sisters are a personal favorite. This amazing Appalachian hike by the side of the Asheville Watershed takes you up a wooded ridgeline and over seven distinct peaks.
I think this one is best hiked in the fall… and in a light rain or mist. That way it feels like you’re hiking through the clouds. But if the day if clear, the ridge will offer an unbeatable view of Black Mountain. The hike itself is short at only 3.5 miles, but moderately difficult.
As an introduction to the area it’s hard to beat the Seven Sisters, and make sure to enjoy the rich local history while you’re at it!
34. Fort Mandan Nature and History Trail, North Dakota
A part of the vast Lewis and Clark Trail, the Fort Mandan Trail goes through the history of the expedition’s second winter, and first winter outside of American controlled territory. Not far from modern Bismarck, the expedition spent the winter with the Mandans, a friendly tribe that housed and fed them.
Enjoy a replica of the old fort and hike through some rare western forests. While the buffalo no longer own the plains around the area, immerse yourself in the history of their lost migrations.
35. Brandywine Falls Trails, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
With excellent views of waterfalls and woodlands, this trail is one of the best in the park. Though the trail is only a mile and a half, that makes it easy for beginners or children. It’s a great introduction to hiking in Cuyahoga Valley national ark if you plan on spending longer there.
The Nation Park Service tells visitors that the best time to come is in the fall, when leaves will cover the falls, creating truly magical scenery. There are dozens of other hikes in the area too, especially the ledges Trail which takes you to a secluded overlook.
Wherever you do hike in the park, make sure to pack your camera!
36. Cathedral Mountain Trail, Gloss Mountain State Park, Oklahoma
Rising high above the plains below, Cathedral Mountain stands out as a regional promontory. The trail to the summit is only a little over a mile, but it can be quite steep. Hiking in the high summer may not be a great idea either as the heat in the area is severe.
But if you hike in the fall or spring, make sure to do so at sunrise or sunset, as that will give you amazing views of the sun over the plains. The mountain itself is a bright red hue. For anyone who likes to paint landscapes, this would be an excellent project as well.
37. Canyon to Rim Loop, Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
At only 3.7 miles, this hike may not seem like much, but the views of the canyon are amazing. The terrain is moderately difficult, and if you do go for this trail, please make sure you’re in good enough shape to complete the entire loop.
Oregon is one of the most amazing states in the Union, and Smith Rock State Park is no exception. Smith Rock itself is another good hike, and the park as numerous trail loops. Planning a trip? The official park website has free maps and advice for hikers.
You can tell which states value the outdoors by how well their websites are put together. Oregon State Parks sites are fantastic, as are their actual parks.
38. Falls Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania
With about 26 miles of trails, Ricketts Glen State Park isn’t that big, but the falls are quite impressive nonetheless. On this 7-mile trail, there are an awesome total of 21 waterfalls. The trail is advertised by the park as difficult, but in reality moderate would be more accurate.
Wherever you hike, make sure to have an accurate assessment of your skill level. Just because I’ve backpacked in Alaska with tennis shoes on my feet does not make that a universally good idea.
The falls themselves are quite beautiful, and the river runs through dense eastern hardwood forest. Overall the park, not far from Scranton, is a beautiful patch of woods within driving distance of many major cities.
39. Lincoln Woods State Park, Rhode Island
In a state that is almost entire developed, it can be hard to find a decent outdoors place. But Lincoln Woods State Park offers you some great outdoors and running trails. You can also swim at an actual beach, ride horses, and fish for trout.
Though the park, like its state, is small, it’s probably the best outdoors place in Rhode Island. During the winter, the state even checks to ensure that the ice is safe for skating.
40. Chattooga River Trail, South Carolina
This 15-mile trek takes you along the Chattooga River in the Sumter National Forest. For a time, the trail runs on a ridge overlooking the river before descending into the forested gorge below. It’s a wonderful way to experience southern Appalachia.
This hike is either best done as a long one day or relaxed overnight backpacking trip. Even better, you can fish for trout in the river, so make sure to bring your rod and license.
The area can get pretty hot, so try to take a three-day weekend in the fall and hike the trail then. You’ll even get to experience all of the fall colors in their full glory!
41. Castle Trail, Badlands National Park, South Dakota
The moonscape of Badlands National Park is certainly awe-inspiring, and the Castle Trail leads you right through it. Measuring at 10 miles, the trail is not short, but it is quite level. Getting to experience such a unique landscape firsthand is something most people ever get to do.
There are also other loop trails in the area, and you can go deeper into the backcountry for camping if you’d like to. And the best part of camping in the park… the night sky is as pure as it was a thousand years ago.
With no cities nearby, you’ll see the stars like you didn’t know you could, and that alone makes the long drive or flight worth it.
42. Appalachian Trail near Charles Bunion, Tennessee
Charlies Bunion is a knob atop a ridgeling that stands out on the skyline. The hiking to the area is amazing, as it’s on some of the best parts of the parts of the Appalachian Trail. From the trailhead the hike is only 4 miles, but be aware that you will climb about 1600 feet.
The view from Charlies Bunion may well be the best in East Tennessee. A sweeping valley landscape of wooded mountains and valleys. And the trail you stand on, should you take a few months off work, can carry you all the way to Maine.
The Smokey Mountains are amazing, and Charlies Bunion is one of the best ways to experience them.
43. Santa Elena Canyon Trail, Big Bend National Park, Texas
A spectacular hike through the Santa Elena Canyon, this trail takes you along the water until the canyon closes on the river and blocks your passage further. The trail is quite short at only 1.7 miles both ways, but the views are amazing.
Postcards often show you a canyon from the air, but this trail shows you a canyon from within, which is probably the most awestriking way to experience one. Only when inside the chasm does one understand the true scale of the rock formations.
And while you’re in Big Bend National Park, enjoy the other hikes too! There are nearly infinite trails there, hike them all.
44. West Rim Trail, Zion National Park, Utah
Traversing a wide variety of terrain, from canyons and valleys to high desert, this trail shows the Zion National Park as a whole unit. Better yet, it gets you away from the throngs of tourists in the main canyon and visitor center.
The trail is strenuous, and length can vary wildly depending on your personal goals. There are a variety of offshoot hikes, best of which is Angel’s Landing, a difficult ascent to a peak with stunning views. Angel’s Landing may well be the best way to see the park, as it shows you the main canyon without the tourists.
From there, do the whole West Rim Trail! Zion is a once in a lifetime experience for most people, so make it a memorable one.
45. Glastenbury Mountain, Appalachian Trail, Vermont
Deep in the wilderness, a backpacking trip to Glastenbury Mountain is the real deal. The trip is typically around 20 miles, though the exact route varies depending on which trailhead you use. The peak itself is not what this hike is for, rather the experience of being in true wilderness is the reward.
Of course, the views from the summit are quite impressive, and you could even link into the rest of the Appalachian Trail if you wanted to! Vermont is a good state to immerse yourself into any of the many outdoors activities.
Try doing this hike in the fall, when the leaves are turning to experience Vermont at its best. Though the name of the state does mean ‘Green Mountain,’ the place really is at its best in oranges and reds!
46. Andy Lane Trail, Tinker Cliffs, Virginia
An accessible hike from as far as Washington D.C., Tinker Cliffs offer hikers amazing views of western Virginia. Appalachia is spectacular from any angle, but the steep ascent and open, stunning views from the top are truly amazing.
This climb is intermediate in difficulty, though despite the name it is not a technical ascent. Try hiking Tinker Cliffs to see if you’re interested into going deeper into Virginia’s backcountry, maybe even the Shenandoah.
47. All the trails! Olympic National Park, Washington
Okay I cheated here. But really, just go to Olympic National Park and hike any trail you can find. The Sol Duc River Trail is amazing as a tour of biodiversity, but then so is the Elwa River Trail. The amazing rainforests of the park are simple magical.
I have a personal soft spot for this ecosystem, having spent time in Washington and Southeast Alaska. Olympic is accessible from Seattle without any major issue. My only specific recommendation for trails in the park is to check on trail closures before going.
Since the place is a rainforest, trails do wash out, as do roads. So make sure to check Park Service bulletins on the website before heading out, but beyond that… improvise!
48. Loudoun Heights Trail, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia
Harpers Ferry may be the best hidden secret of the Potomac River. Drivable from Washington, the small town offers great hiking. The National Historical Park that remembers the battlefield only adds to the rich history and scenery.
Try hiking up to Loudon Heights, a part of the venerable Appalachian Trail and get a view of the town and river below you. The hike is a tough one at about 7 steep miles, but the views and forests make it worth it. Just make sure to pack enough water for the entire trip, as resupply there can be difficult.
The entire Harpers Ferry area is spectacular, so if you’re near it, go spend a free weekend there!
49. Tumbled Rocks Trail, Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin
Another wonderful hike around a lake in the forest. This hike is a Wisconsin classic, especially known for its interesting rock formations. Make sure to see things like Balanced Rock (which earned its name!) and the Devil’s Doorway (which probably didn’t). The Tumbled Rocks trail takes you around the west shore of the lake through really scenic terrain.
The forests here are also beautiful, and together with the lake and rock formations, they really do complete the picture. You can also camp in the park, so find a campsite you like and stay the night. The hiking here is good for the whole family, so let it serve as a wilderness introduction for the kids too!
50. The North Fork Pinto Park Trail, Popo Agie National Forest, Wyoming
This trail changed the way I see the world. Hiking from low wooded country near Stough Creek, this trail takes you through the wilderness to the Cirque of the Towers. A formation is staggering peaks that circle the valley as if a dying giant had reached his hand up to the sky before falling.
It’s a long difficult route, about 50 miles through rough terrain. There is a Cirque of the Towers trail that people do as a day hike, but where’s the fun in that? Take the long way over a week or two.
So how do I recommend you experience the Wind River Range in Wyoming? A NOLS course! That’s how I saw this area, though not every course goes by the Cirque of the Towers. The Winds stand as some of the last truly wild… and never civilized… spots on earth, and as that, they are truly special to me.