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Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

If you’ve been wanting to spend some time in the great outdoors, look no further than these best hikes in the U.S. We all lead busy lives, so when we get a chance to escape to a national park or local preserve and go on a hike, the tall trees and quiet lakes can be like therapy for our souls. That's certainly true for the destinations we've compiled here, many of which feature awe-inspiring views, babbling brooks, mountain vistas, and towering pine trees. Others will bring you closer to animals and other wildlife, from sea turtles to herons. And whether you're a beginner or a more experienced hiker (or camper), there's something for you here: These hikes span the range from easy to challenging, with many falling somewhere in between. Happy trails!

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Alabama: Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge

Bon Secour is French for “safe harbor,” which is the perfect name for this 6,000-acre coastal wildlife refuge. As you wander wood-plank trails above sands and swampland, you just might spot snowy plovers, sea turtles, and other endangered creatures.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Herbert Ho

Alaska: Mount Roberts Trail

Mount Roberts Trail, starting in downtown Juneau and reaching a height of 1,760 feet, is guaranteed to take your breath away. The sight of the snow-capped mountains can’t be beat—plus, if you reach the top and you’re exhausted, you’ll be happy to know that you can hitch a ride on a tram and head back down in comfort.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Denny Armstrong

Arizona: Devil’s Bridge Trail

The Devil’s Bridge is the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area. The 1.8-mile trail loop can be a bit of a rocky challenge, but it’ll be worth it to witness those stunning desert views.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Adam Shaver

Arkansas: Lost Valley Hiking Trail

Nestled in the Buffalo National River park, you’ll find the Lost Valley Trail, an Arkansas treasure that boasts fields of wildflowers, waterfalls that surge after rainstorms, and babbling brooks.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

California: Congress Trail

Get ready to feel tiny—really tiny—when you walk along the Congress Trail and you’re dwarfed by the giant Sequoias. The paved loop starts at the famed General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/mark byzewski

Colorado: Seven Bridges Trail

Located near Colorado Springs, the Seven Bridges Trail promises a hiking experience that'll appeal to all ages and skill levels. There are flat trails, rocky spots for those who want a little challenge, and wooden bridges that cross over rushing creeks.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Connecticut: Bluff Point State Park

If you love hiking along the water, this is the U.S. state park for you. The trails in Bluff Point State Park in Groton, Connecticut, offer a mix of woodland scenery and sandy shorelines.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Mike Mahaffie

Delaware: Junction and Breakwater Trail

This paved Delaware rail-trail is suitable for leisurely strolls and fast-paced bike rides, all while you soak up scenes of wetlands, marinas, and beaches.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Florida: Anhinga Trail

On this boardwalk trail that’s less than a mile long, you’ll get an up-close-and-personal view of the Florida Everglades, complete with alligators, herons, turtles, and other native wildlife.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/mwms1916

Georgia: Jekyll Island Trail System

The biking and hiking trails of the Jekyll Island Trail System provide plenty of tourist diversions, like a miniature golf course, local hotels, and historical markers. And it doesn’t get much more Southern than watching the Spanish moss sway in the trees along the trails.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Hawaii: Kalepa Ridge Trail

Say aloha to one of the best hikes in the world, let alone the U.S. Hawaii’s Kalepa Ridge Trail stuns visitors with its views of turquoise seas, lush greenery, and rocky cliffs. But be forewarned that this will be a walk on the wild side—it’s an unofficial trail that’s not regularly maintained. Still, locals and well-trained hikers assert it’s one of the best around.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/David Taylor

Idaho: Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

Winding throughout the Idaho panhandle, this paved 72-mile rail-trail holds a wealth of natural beauty: pine-topped hills, riverside scenery, and frequently-spotted animals like otters, moose, and beavers.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Illinois: Starved Rock State Park

Imagine towering sandstone rock formations, flourishing green trees, and picturesque waterfalls. Yup, that's Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois, and it really is the stuff of daydreams. The trails are resplendent year-round, but when the trees change color in the fall, that's when it's really not to be missed.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Mark

Indiana: Clifty Falls State Park

It’s said that the waterfalls throughout Clifty Falls State Park reflect the changing seasons: They fluctuate from misty trickles in dry periods to surging, grandiose wonders in the late winter and spring.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Anissa Wood

Iowa: Effigy Mounds National Monument

Near Harpers Ferry, Iowa, you might be surprised to learn that there’s a treasure trove of Native American history found in the Effigy Mounds National Monument. Traverse bridges and a mix of paved and grass-covered paths to see the area’s 191 effigy mounds.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Vincent Parsons

Kansas: Kanopolis State Park

Kanopolis State Park in Marquette displays every type of Kansas terrain imaginable, from sandstone formations to flat, grassy prairies.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Anthony

Kentucky: Berea Pinnacles

The Berea College Forest holds what’s known as “The Pinnacles,” a scenic area showcasing seven miles of hiking and running trails. Visit Indian Fort Lookout for some of the most spectacular views in Kentucky.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/dconvertini

Louisiana: Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Only 25 minutes from New Orleans, you’ll discover a whole new world at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. If you’ve ever wanted to visit a real-deal bayou filled with alligators, armadillos, and other swamp wildlife (viewed from wood-plank trails), this is your chance.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Timothy G. Lumley

Maine: Jordan Pond

There are few places as beautiful as Maine’s Acadia National Park, and there’s one hiking destination within it that’s particularly pretty: the Shore Trail that touches Jordan Pond. It’s a 3.5-mile paved path where you’ll find an unforgettable view of the idyllic shoreline.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Maryland: Billy Goat Trail

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from Washington, D.C., you might find yourself jumping like a billy goat on this striking but challenging trail. Appropriately name the "Billy Goat Trail," the rocky, 4.7-mile hiking path does require some fancy footwork. Be prepared for an amazing workout and equally amazing views.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Ani Od Chai

Massachusetts: Mount Greylock State Reservation

Take your pooch to the dog-friendly Mount Greylock State Reservation and look out as far as 90 miles away from the highest point in Massachusetts.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Copyright Matt KazmierskiGetty Images

Michigan: Empire Bluff Trail

Located in the Sleeping Bear Dunes, visitors enjoy the 1.5-mile Empire Bluff Trail, a combination of dirt trails and boardwalks that lead to a bluff where you can take in a panoramic view of Lake Michigan.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Joe Passe

Minnesota: Kawishiwi Falls Trail

Splish! Splash! Those are the sounds you’ll likely hear when hiking Ely, Minnesota’s Kawishiwi Falls Trail. It’s famous for its gushing, gorgeous falls and easy-to-traverse path.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Mississippi: Tishomingo State Park

Visiting Tishomingo State Park is like going for a hike through a simpler time, one marked by classic log cabins that visitors can stay in, old-school swing bridges, and plenty of Native American history.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Karen Blaha

Missouri: Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Now, here’s something you don’t see every day during a hike in a state park: ruins of an early 20th-century castle. In Ha Ha Tonka State Park, don’t miss the formerly grand mansion constructed by a wealthy Kansas City businessman, which met its demise in a 1942 fire.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Montana: Highline Trail

Glacier National Park (specifically the Highline Trail) should be on everyone’s U.S. hiking trail bucket list. See the majestic Continental Divide in all its glory as you make your way to Haystack Pass.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Nebraska: Saddle Rock Trail

What’s the best way to see Scotts Bluff National Monument? That would be the Saddle Rock Trail, a 1.6-mile uphill path where you’ll witness the very landscape seen by pioneers on the Oregon Trail.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Nevada: Calico Tanks Trail

When you need a break from all that Las Vegas glitz, head out to the desert for some time in nature on the Calico Tanks Trail in Red Rock Canyon. You’ll be dazzled by the bright-red rock formations and desert vegetation.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

New Hampshire: Franconia Notch State Park

In the White Mountain National Forest, there are miles and miles of hiking trails found in Franconia Notch State Park. Be sure to make your way through Flume Gorge, known for its granite boulders and cascading river.

Best Hikes In The US: Our Definitive Guide

Flickr/Miguel Vieira

New Jersey: Pochuck Boardwalk

Hike along a piece of the Appalachian Trail on the Pochuck Boardwalk, found in Glenwood, New Jersey. This slice of the trail is certainly kinder to those who don’t wish to tackle the trail in its entirety, offering wood-plank paths that travel through wooded areas and pastures.