Choosing your favorite hiking trails is no easy task. The United States is a big country, full of amazing natural wonders, so choosing the 10 best hikes in the United States is a daunting task. While there are many trails that can be considered among the best, we have chosen a diverse list representing a variety of lengths, levels of difficulty, and regions of the country. Hiking is for everyone, so no matter your ability level, these hikes will get you out and enjoying spectacular trails and amazing scenery.
- Panorama Trail, Yosemite National Park
- Canyon Overlook Trail, Zion National Park
- Delicate Arch Trail, Arches National Park
- Crow Pass Trail, Chugach State Park
- Sunrise Rim Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
- Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park
- Rock Harbor Trail, Isle Royale National Park
- Ocean Path Trail, Acadia National Park
- Sky Pond & Lake of Glass Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park
- Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park
#1: PANORAMA TRAIL
Location: Yosemite National Park, California
Trailhead/parking: Glacier Point parking area
Length: 13.4km one way , 6-8h
Difficulty: Strenuous. 1200m total elevation change
More information on Panorama Trail.
This incredible trail passes several stunning waterfalls and also takes hikers along the Panorama Cliff ridgeline for spectacular views. One of the reasons we love this hike is the sheer variety out on the trail. You’ll see the mists rising from the gushing waterfalls, enjoy sensational views up and down the valley, and spend a full day in some of Yosemite’s most dramatic scenery. It’s a fabulous place to snap that classic picture of Half Dome and in our opinion, one of the best ways to experience this iconic park.
Choose between two different routes, one of which takes you along several miles of the John Muir Trail. This trail can be combined with the Four Mile Trail, which is actually closer to 5 miles, for a long and strenuous loop. During the summer season, the Panorama Trail can also be hiked one-way as a bus is available to return to Glacier Point (reservations required). Hiking from the top to the bottom of the Yosemite Valley makes the Panorama Trial one of the most impressive hikes in Yosemite National Park, and one of the best hikes in the United States.
#2: CANYON OVERLOOK TRAIL
Location: Zion National Park, Utah
Trailhead/parking: near the Zion / Mount Carmel Tunnel, east entrance
Length: 1.6km, 1h
More information on Canyon Overlook Trail.
Don’t let the length and accessibility of this trail fool you, the Canyon Overlook Trail gives you maximum canyon views for the least amount of effort. We think this trail is one of the great hikes in the United States, taking you through some of the most incredible scenery in Utah. One of the wonderful things about this route is that the park service has created a proper path in the rock, with a helpful railing for anyone who struggles with exposed trails. The trail is still somewhat rocky and there are steep drop-offs along the way, but it brings you to a viewpoint with jaw-dropping views of the lower Zion Canyon as well as the Pine Creek slot canyon.
This amazing trail is also extremely popular, and it’s easy to see why! The view from the top gives you a fabulous panorama over Bridge Mountain and Mount Spry, as well as the Court of the Patriarchs and the towering West Temple. Whatever your fitness levels or hiking experience, you’ll be able to enjoy this magnificent trail in Zion National Park. There is no shuttle available, so get an early start to increase your chances of finding a parking space. The Canyon Overlook Trail is one of the best hikes in the United States, and can be enjoyed year-round.
#3: DELICATE ARCH TRAIL
Location: Arches National Park, Utah
Trailhead/parking: Wolfe Ranch
Length: 4.8km, 2-3h
More information on Delicate Arch Trail.
The Delicate Arch is a favorite landmark for visitors to Arches National Park. This towering, precariously balanced stone arch sits in a natural amphitheater, the perfect place to sit and admire this fantastic natural feature. The eponymous stone structures of Arches National Park were created as a result of a compressed layer of salt deposits in the rock, which later became fluid, thrusting upwards to form strange stone domes. Weathering over time has all but destroyed these domes, leaving behind only the fragile arches that characterize this otherworldly landscape. Delicate Arch is a rare and impressive piece of natural architecture, making this trail one of the best hikes in the United States.
While there are easily accessible viewpoints, the only way to get up close and personal with the Delicate Arch is to brave the steep climb over bare rock and along a narrow ledge. Watch for Ute Indian petroglyphs in the rock near Wolfe Ranch Cabin. Be aware that there is no shade on this hike and the summer heat can be very intense. This trail is an incredible adventure with spectacular views, and that’s what makes the Delicate Arch Trail one of the best hiking trails in the United States.
#4: CROW PASS TRAIL
Location: Chugach State Park, Alaska
Trailhead/parking: Eagle River Nature Center or Crow Creek Trailhead
Length: 33.8km one way
More information on Crow Pass Trail.
Unique wildlife and landscapes, crossing snowfields, fording rivers and streams without the help of bridges, incredible views… the Crow Pass Trail has everything an adventurous hiker could want in a trail. You’ll wind your way through stunning snowfields before arriving at Clear Creek, where you’ll need to ford the stream. Passing through brush and atmospheric forest, the trail will eventually lead you to the Eagle River. With panoramic views over the craggy peaks and glistening glaciers, and an abundance of wildlife, this is one of the USA’s best hikes.
While hiking the full length of this trail is generally done over two or more days, reasonable day hikes can be taken from either trailhead. Designated campsites are available for those who pursue the full Crow Pass experience. The Crow Pass Trail is part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail and it is easy to see why it is one of the best hikes in the United States.
#5: SUNRISE RIM TRAIL
Location: Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Trailhead/parking: Sunrise parking lot, south end
Length: 8.0km loop, 3+ hours
More information on Sunrise Rim Trail.
The most breathtaking views of Mount Rainier can be found along the Sunrise Rim Trail. Stroll through meadows full of wildflowers and watch for picas and marmots along the way. If you stay alert, you’re sure to hear the characteristic marmot whistle as you hike along the rocky path. The trail ascends gently along a rugged trail strewn with colorful wildflowers, passing by a gorgeous alpine lake with views over Sourdough Ridge.
Climb to the Glacier Overlook for a chance to see the ice towers and crevasses of Emmons Glacier, the surrounding moraine, and the turquoise glacier-fed lakes. The intense turquoise color of the water is created by the presence of glacial silt, dislodged as a result of the passage of the glacier over the rock. Continue climbing above the treeline up into the Burroughs Mountains, where the rocky, tundra-like terrain will challenge and impress you. This amazing trail truly has it all, making it one of the best hiking trails in America.
#6: GRINNELL GLACIER TRAIL
Location: Glacier National Park, Montana
Trailhead/parking: Grinnell Glacier trailhead or Many Glacier Hotel
Length: 17.7km round trip, 5-6 hours
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
More information on Grinnell Glacier Trail.
This incredible hike leads you to a turquoise glacial lake where icebergs float in the water. As if the view at Grinnell Glacier were not enough, the whole trail offers spectacular and varied views of the mountains and glaciers of the Many Glacier area in Glacier National Park. The trail itself passes through the trees before emerging to hug the shores of the beautiful Lake Josephine, boasting crystal-clear waters that mirror the surrounding peaks.
As you climb the views just get better and better, although you’ll need to navigate a narrow ledge and waterfall to get to your destination. The cirque at Upper Grinnell Lake is magnificent, offering plenty of opportunities to snap some epic photos. You’re likely to see mountain goats or moose leisurely grazing in their natural habitat. Grizzly bears like to stop for a drink in the lake. This trail can be shortened by taking a ferry across Lake Josephine (for a fee) if desired. Hiking the Grinnell Glacier Trail is the experience of a lifetime and it is easily one of the best hikes in the country.
#7: ROCK HARBOR TRAIL
Location: Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Trailhead/parking: Rock Harbor Visitor Center
Length: 17.2km one way, 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
More information on Rock Harbor Trail.
The Rock Harbor Trail is a lovely stroll along the shoreline of Lake Superior. Its features change with the seasons. You’ll find abundant wild berries in late summer, and the fall colors are a sight to behold. Watch for wildlife, including moose, all along the trail. The trail itself is simple and leaves you free to focus on the amazing views that surround you. You might forget you’re looking at a lake as you gaze out over barrier islands and then see the waters of Lake Superior stretch to the horizon.
One of our favorite parts of this trail is the detour to Suzy’s Cave. Follow the Rock Harbor Trail beyond the campground and you’ll eventually come to a picturesque cliffside and an arched cave. This lovely spot is a fine place for a rest, and you can extend the hike along the Tobin Harbor Trail before looping back through the spruce and fir trees to the Rock Harbor Trail itself. The stunning scenery is what earns the Rock Harbor trail a spot in the top 10 hiking trails in the United States. The stunning scenery is what earns this trail a spot in the top 10 hiking trails in the United States.
#8: OCEAN PATH TRAIL
Location: Acadia National Park, Maine
Trailhead/parking: Sand Beach or Otter Point
Length: 3.5km one way
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
More information on Ocean Path Trail.
The Ocean Path Trail along the coast of Maine is not to be missed, especially as the sun rises over the Atlantic Ocean. A relatively flat walk along Maine’s rocky coastline, this popular trail can be crowded during the peak season, especially during the late morning and early afternoon. It is usually, however, a quiet peaceful place to watch the sun rise.
If ocean views are not enough, explore one of the many side trails that takes you to the water’s edge. The routes to Otter Cliff and Otter Point are particularly impressive, with some wonderful sea views. Keep an eye on the sea at all times, as rogue waves can make the trail somewhat slippery. Nevertheless,it’s a fantastic route for the whole family, and a really fun outing for kids. The accessibility of this trail, combined with inspiring ocean vistas, make it one of the top 10 hikes in the country.
#9: Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Trail
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Trailhead/parking: Glacier Gorge trailhead
Length: 13.7km round trip, 4-6h
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous
More information on Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Trail.
Imagine the sight of majestic Rocky Mountain peaks reflected in a clear mountain lake. The Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Trail gives you multiple opportunities to experience this as you pass The Loch and the Lake of Glass on your way to Sky Pond. Rising up from the Loch, you’ll start climbing a steep path that will take you all the way to Timberline Falls, a picturesque spot for a breather after the strenuous ascent.
From the falls, you’ll need to do a bit of scrambling which can be challenging in wet or icy conditions, but will get you up onto the trail that leads directly to Lake of Glass and Sky Pond. Once you reach the final lake, you’ll see that the gorgeous mountain vista is reflected in the pristine waters, making this a wonderful place to stop and contemplate the majesty of the Rockies. The beautiful waterfalls and thrilling scrambling section of the trail make it easy to understand why this is one of the best hikes in the United States.
#10: Bright Angel Trail
Location: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Trailhead/parking: Bright Angel trailhead, near Bright Angel Lodge
Length: 15.3km round trip, 4-5 hours going down, 7-8 hours coming up (not recommended to attempt round trip in one day)
More information on Bright Angel Trail.
Hike the Grand Canyon on the ancient trail along a natural fault line that has been used for centuries by the native people of the area. The Bright Angel Trail is the safest in Grand Canyon National Park because it is well-maintained and has regular access to drinking water and sheltered rest areas. However, be warned – attempting this route in one day will be a tough challenge! If you’re planning to descend into the canyon and hike out on the same day you’ll need to start early and be prepared for a strenuous hike.
Instead, we’d recommend splitting this hike over two days and camping at the wonderful Bright Angel Campground. This will not only give you the opportunity to relax and enjoy the magnificent canyon scenery, you will also be able to admire the glittering canopy of stars that emerges when the sun goes down. This trail provides the quintessential Grand Canyon experience. It’s the premier trail in one of America’s premier national parks, so it is only fitting that it is counted among the best hiking trails in the United States.