There are thousands of hiking trails in the US, so it’s no wonder it’s your typical hiker’s dream destination. America’s landscape is incredibly diverse, containing pretty much every type of terrain and climate imaginable. From mountains and deserts to tropical woodlands and rainforests, you’ll find a route to suit or surprise you. Understandably though, it can be difficult to know where to begin.

 

Here are a few of the best hiking trails in the US to get you started:

 

Lost Coast Trail, California 

Length: 24.6 miles (39.6 km)

Location: California 

Best time to hike: All year, but wintertime is best. 

Estimated time to complete: 3-4 days. 

Difficulty Level: All levels, but precautions do still need to be taken.

 

The Lost Coast Trail can be taken from either direction (north-south or vice-versa) starting from Mattole Beach or Black Sands Beach which is near Shelter Cove. The coastline here is one of the least developed in the US, so this route is ideal for any soul-seekers looking to switch off and venture into the unknown.

 

One thing to remember is that planning and research are key, especially regarding the tide. In some areas, if it’s too high, you simply can’t pass.

 

Want to explore the surrounding area? Hotspots beyond the trail include the romantic hamlet of Mendocino, approximately a 3-hour drive up the coast from San Francisco. There’s also Eureka, a former logging town 2 hours further north. 

 

Gila Loop Trail, New Mexico 

Length: Up to 55 miles, though typically routes are around 21.5 miles

Location:  Pinos Altos, New Mexico

Best time to hike: March-October

Estimated time to complete: 2-3 days, perfect for a long week 

Level: Advanced

 

The Gila Wilderness Loop is a major draw for adventure seekers. The River Gila is a cold, clear, photogenic gem which wades between canyons and highlands. The route offers breathtaking vistas of the roadless and development free backcountry of New Mexico. Take care of the elusive Mexican wolf said to roam the region too! 

 

If you’re after a change of scenery, why not head to Albuquerque’s Isotopes Park? The stadium is the home field of the Albuquerque Isotopes baseball team and also hosts New Mexico United’s home soccer games. Fancy a flutter on the match? Sports betting is becoming a popular pastime following the repeal of PASPA, with 2018’s nationwide sports betting handle totalling over $5 billion. New Mexico is one of the few states that offers legal sports betting, so you can visit the Santa Ana Star Casino and Hotel sportsbook if you’d like to wager on the match – it’s only a half hour drive from the stadium.  

Tonto Trail, Arizona (Grand Canyon National Park) 

Length: 70 miles (113 km)

Location: Arizona

Best time to hike: Not summer! You’ll melt.

Estimated time to complete: 4-6 days

Difficulty Level: All Levels 

 

If you’re after spectacular views, this one’s for you. Experience the stunning red rocky canyons from within the belly of the beast; the hike is enclosed in the Grand Canyon. For the Tonto Trail, you want to take the South Rim hike which runs from Garnet to Red Canyon. Take care to make sure you have enough filtered water, as some of the streams are bacteria-ridden.

 

Want to explore the surrounding area? Like New Mexico, there’s some really unique casino spots in Arizona if you want to try something a little different. Casino del Sol offers award-winning dining, spa, golf and gaming options for a bit of luxury after a few days climbing canyons!

 

Katahdin, Maine 

Length: 2.4- 9 miles (depending on where you choose to start or end your trek)

Location: Maine

Best time to hike: summer (and in dry conditions)

Estimated time to complete:. 1 day (8-12 hours)

Difficulty Level: Advanced 

 

Mount Katahdin is famed for its cultural-historical backdrop; its legendary peak is where Appalachian Trail thru-hikers either began or ended their monumental journey.

 

While the hike itself is short, it’s technically a tough trek to trial. The terrain is unforgiving and steep – it’s often referred to as a knife’s edge trail. However, the reward is sweet. Expect sweeping views and dramatic scenery at the peak.  

 

Want to explore the surrounding area? To take a break from land, hikers can go island hopping in a sea kayak in Acadia National Park. 

 

Cracker Lake, Montana (Glacier National Park)

Length: 12.6 miles (20km)

Location: Glacier National Park

Best time to hike: Summer

Estimated time to complete: 1-2 days

Difficulty Level: All levels

 

Surprisingly, Glacier National Park is one of the least visited in the US, despite its spellbinding views. Due to its northern location, Glacier National remains quite cool. On a clear day in Summer, it’s an ideal location to trek.

 

You can hike from the north or south, but the most popular trailhead is at the south end. To the south of Cracker Lake, you’ll find Mount Siyeh which rises over 4,000 feet above the lake. 

 

Want to explore the surrounding area? Montana is a well-known haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Visit Flathead Lake, the largest natural lake in the Western US, for rowing and kayaking. For some history, take to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument or the centre of peace: The Garden of One Thousand Buddhas.

 

Half Dome, California (Yosemite National Park)

Length: 17 miles

Location: Yosemite National Park

Best time to hike: May-September 

Estimated time to complete: 1 day (12 hours) 

Level: Advanced

 

Yosemite is one of the most famous rock formations in the world. Half Dome, which sits 4,800 feet off of the valley floor, is regarded as a right of passage for most hikers visiting the states. In other words, expect a lot of traffic! Permits are also required (300 are dished out a day). 

 

Most hikers begin before sunrise on the Mist Trail, which gets its name from the wall of mist you often have to trek through. Falling rocks are a nasty but regular occurrence so keep an eye up ahead. To summit, you’ll also need cables. 

 

Although the preparation (logistical and physical) is demanding, the mesmerising views are unrivalled. It’s definitely one for your US hiking bucket list. 

 

Want to explore the surrounding area? You could tour a gold mining town, see a play at the East Sonora Theatre, or visit Mono Lake, an immense saline soda lake in Mono County. The lake is filled with calcified tufa towers – very jurassic park!

 

As long as you’re prepared, you stay safe, and you’re ready for some spellbinding views, you’re all sorted. Whichever hiking trail you choose, you’re set for an adventure to remember. 

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