The United States is abuzz with tons of spectacular hiking trails offering surreal views, majestic landscapes, towering trees and enthralling geology, that beckon to both nature-lovers and expert hikers alike. With over 57 national parks and 5000 national parks to choose from, it is easy to get carried away in the natural splendor of America’s picturesque hiking trails. From routes starting in the heart of the glaciers in Alaska to narrow pathways gliding through the rocky Alpine tundra, these trails demand that every hiker carries their supply of water, camera and survival tools. And although the jury is still out on the best five hike trails of U.S.A, our list here is sure to act as a vacation primer and get you geared up for your next adventure!
Best Hiking Trails
1. The Long Trail, Vermont
Total distance: 272 miles (438 km)
Best months to visit: June to mid-October
Total duration: 20–30 days
Designed by the Green Mountain Club in 1930, the Long Trail is famed as the oldest long-distance hike trail in the U.S. Commonly referred to as the “footpath in wilderness, it stretches up to the summit of the Green Mountains of Vermont in the Canadian border and starts from the Massachusetts state line in the south. This rugged backcountry route offers as steep and strenuous hike as it passes along the crest of Green Mountains and crosses some major summits of the mountain chain, including Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump. Just like the Appalachian trail Long Trail too welcomes visitors with an array of shelters about a stone’s throw away from each other. Overlapping with the Appalachian Trail, the southern fringes offer easier terrain, while the northern stretches are relatively quieter and provide plenty of solitude to worn-out hikers.
2. Mount Cammerer Trail, Smoky Mountains
Total distance: 12 miles (19 km)
Best months to visit: April, June, September
Total duration: 7-8 hours
Located in Cosby and Greenbrier, Mount Cammerer is a 19-km long trail offering a unique combination of surreal vistas and heritage sites. A round trip through the trail will take you through an elevation of gain of 3,045 feet, but the highest point of the trail is at 5,054 feet, where you are rewarded for your hard-work with awe-inspiring sights of Pigeon River Gorge across which the Great Smoky Mountains seem to stretch on to infinity. Along the hike, you will benefit from scenic views of hardwood forests, bubbling creeks and seasonal blankets of wildflowers. You can also access the Sutton Ridge Overlook nearby to indulge in some fun-filled ridge top hiking. And the final fruit of your labor is the fire tower at Mount Cammerer. Nestled in the lap of nature, this is a rustic lookout structure offering a refreshing change from the cookie-cutter, urban buildings of the city. Do remember that this trail is believed to be strenuous climb and is not meant for the weak-hearted. However, if you are geared up to the challenge, Mount Cammerer is sure to reward you liberally for your efforts with charming views in abundance.
3. Presidential Traverse, New Hampshire
Total distance: 23 miles (37 km)
Best months to visit: February, June, September
Total duration: 7 days
Whatever be the season, the Presidential Traverse is not easy to hike, but there is a reason why it’s in the bucket list of thousands of mountaineers and adventurers who dream of scaling all the 10 peaks of the White Mountains in a single continuous hike that stretches nearly 23 miles long with roughly 9000 feet of height gain. This hike is almost entirely above treeline, so a good compass, map skills and ample water supply are a must. And while there are plenty of reasons to bail out halfway through, if you keep going, the enigmatic moonscape views and sweeping vistas are sure to multiply the thrill of your achievement. Hikers normally start by climbing Mt Madison first and then head south along Gulfside Trail to Jefferson. Beyond Jefferson is a grassy space called Monticello Lawn that offers vast green areas to lie down and watch the clouds pass in the sky.
4. Upper Hawksbill Trail, Virginia
Total distance: 2 miles (3 km)
Best months to visit: March, August, September
Total duration: 1-2 hours
Deemed as the easiest route to Hawksbill, the tallest mountain of Shenandoah National Park, the Upper Hawksbill Trail passes through dense woods and along the popular fire road while offering enchanting wildlife sightings and lush scenic views on the way. Like all other park trails, Upper Hawksbill too has blue blazes; it starts as a wide and relatively well-maintained trail and then follows an even, gradual slope, making it suitable for children and adults alike. The end of the trail is the summit of Hawksbill Mountain, which is also the highest point in the national park.
With no vegetation to block the panorama, hikers get the chance to enjoy stunning views of the valley below. This is typically a late afternoon hike that usually takes around 1-2 hours to complete. Even if it’s crowded with many hikers around, there’s still a lot of room at the summit for everyone to kick back and relax for a while. For all the shutterbugs out there, the fall season is particularly fascinating as the Blue Ridge Mountains take on a stunning display of red and gold colors that appear to undulate like a blanket and seem to stretch to infinity.
5. Northville-Placid Trail, New York
Total distance: 133 miles (214 km)
Best months to visit: May, June, September
Total duration: 8-10 days
Remote areas of wilderness, challenging road turns, lack of harmful pests and mesmerizing displays of fall foliage make the Northville-Placid Trail appealing to every hardened adventurer. Following an ancient logging road in the heart of the Adirondacks, this end-to-end hike trail is dotted with ponds, streams, lakes, hills, as well as regal forests of spruce and hardwood. Located in the farthest reaches of the Adirondack Park, Northville-Placid Trail stretches from virgin forests to ancient Adirondack villages located miles away from civilization.
Sure, hiking through the 133-mile long Northville-Placid Trail is no cakewalk, but you can always opt for easier segments of the route, leading to waterfalls, hermits’ spots, as well as the bridge over River Sacandaga. With a wilderness area as expansive as the Amazon Forests, the Adirondacks beckons to all the bird-watchers, nature-lovers and practically anyone who wants to explore the untainted fringes of the rocky alpine tundra and areas that have not changed a bit from the 20th century.
The spectacular States of America offer endless opportunities to connect with nature. Hiking through the aforementioned trails are some of them. Marked by enthralling views, majestic landscapes, lush greenery and challenging hurdles, these outdoor hikes offer an irresistible combination of thrill, solitude and adventure that stay in your memories long after you have returned back to the monotony of your daily life.