9 American Hiking Trails Sure to Wow
Read about nine of the best hiking trails and plan your next hiking adventure.
From tough treks up steep mountains to nice relaxing walks through the wilderness, this fine country has some incredible places to hike.
But where do you start?
You may feel as if there are endless options for hiking trails, and you’re right – there are. Making finding the perfect trail even more difficult, not all of the great hiking spots are obvious. While there are cult favorite hikes that you’ve likely heard of, or possibly even experienced yourself, there are also some hidden gems that maybe only a lucky few have had the chance of exploring.
To help you find the right kind of hiking trail to fulfill your wildest hiking dreams, we’ve done some research to uncover the top trails to hike this summer.
Read on to find your happy hiking place, and start exploring!
1. Sargent Mountain Loop | Acadia National Park, Maine | Distance: 5.5 miles
This national park is full of stunning granite peaks, and the Sargent Mountain Loop is one that provides some gorgeous views of those peaks.
The Sargent Mountain Loop is a moderate hike that takes travelers on a loop starting at the Jordan Pond House (elevation 200 feet), and takes you all the way up to the summit of Sargent Mountain (elevation 1,373 feet).
On your way up to the top, you’ll go around the Jordan and East Cliffs via carved steps and perfectly-positioned iron rungs. Without these aids, the hike would not be possible (well, for most of us, at least).
Once you reach the top, you’ll be wowed by the view of Mount Desert Island and beyond.
And on the way down, hop into Sargent Pond to cool off.
2. Franconia Ridge Loop | Traverse, New Hampshire | 9 miles
This trail will take you traversing through Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln, and Little Haystack. A very popular hike, this ridge sees up to 700 hikers a day!
And the crowd should be no surprise — this is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in the White Mountains. Additionally, its proximity to Boston makes it a perfectly easy escape from the city.
However, this is a trail that should really only be taken by those who have the strength to deal with 3,480 feet of elevation increase in just 4 miles.
If you’re up for the challenge, this hike will be well worth it. The views you will experience (including some beautiful waterfalls) will blow your mind.
3. Hidden Lake Nature Trail | Glacier National Park, Montana | 1.5 – 6 miles
The varying levels of difficulty on this trail make it a great option for families. The hike begins at Logan Pass, and 1.5 miles along the trail will take you to a beautiful overlook of Hidden Lake.
You can stop here and enjoy the view, or continue on to head to the shore of Hidden Lake to get up close and personal, and enjoy the cooling waters.
The trail to Hidden Lake descends from the overlook and is quite steep, so keep in mind that you’ll have to hike up that on your way back.
5. Queens Garden/Navajo Loop | Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah | 3.1 miles
If you’ve never been to Bryce Canyon, you’ve certainly seen pictures. This place is fabulously picturesque and the short 3-mile Queens Garden/Navajo Loop trail will take you through an incredible amount of views and scenery.
This loop takes hikers past the park’s famous rock formations, called hoodoos, including one of the park’s most iconic hoodoos, Thor’s Hammer.
If you’re able, it is recommended to hike this trail on the night of a full moon. The deep darkness of Bryce Canyon allows you to see up to 7,500 stars, whereas most rural places in the United States can only see 2,500 stars on a clear night.
Whether night or day, this hike is a gorgeous one.
5. Paint Mines | Colorado | 3.6 miles
If you’re looking for some more hoodoos, we’ve got them for you on this hike.
In addition to the hoodoos, you will also see caprock canyons and some seriously bright clay.
Hiking in this area will not only take provide you with stunning views, it will also provide you with a walk back in time.
The mines that have been found here in Colorado are proof of human life that dates back as far as 9,000 years ago. That will certainly give you something to think about while walking!
6. Pacific Crest Trail | California, Oregon, and Washington | 195 miles
In case you missed it above, traveling this entire trail means you’re going 195 miles. In other words, don’t attempt this unless you are ready for a serious challenge — and are well prepared for it.
However, you can opt to break this into several different trips, which many hikers do, as hiking 195 miles in one trip is something only very few people can endure.
All the hard work hiking this will 100% be worth it. You’ll experience some of the most gorgeous parts of our country in ways that not many people will ever get to see.
7. Angels Landing | Zion National Park, Utah | 2.5 miles
This trail was cut into the rocks of the Angels Landing rock formation back in 1926, and will take you to the very top of Angels Landing where you will find yourself reveling in an incredible view of Zion Canyon.
The majority of this hike is not very difficult, and its short distance makes it doable for most. However, be aware that the very last part of the hike is a bit more difficult, as the steepness increases and the sheer drop-offs to your side can make weary hikers a bit nervous.
A few words of warning: do not go on this hike if you are afraid of heights!
8. Mount Healy Overlook Trail | Alaska | 4.5 miles
This is a great hike for those who don’t want to lug a bunch of equipment and who are not super technically-skilled hikers.
The different environments this hike takes you through are truly wonderful. The Overlook Trail starts in a thick forest, then ascends to alpine tundra, then to the top where the lookout provides gorgeous views of the valley and its surrounding ridges.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can hike the additional 2 miles to get to the top of the mountain. However, it is not an easy hike, so is definitely not for your average hiker.
9. Soldier’s Pass | Sedona, Arizona | 4.0 miles
Home to the famous red rocks, Sedona is a hiker’s heaven. And Soldier’s Pass is one of the local favorites.
This moderate trail is right in the middle of town, but you’d never guess it. The views of nature you’ll see up top are stunning. On your way up, you’ll see arroyos, a massive sinkhole (called Devils Kitchen), the “Seven Sacred Pools,” and much more.
The sinkhole that resides along the trail was created by a major collapse that happened in the 1880s, and then again in 1989, thus increasing the size of the sinkhole by ⅓!
Whether you’re a newbie, or a skilled hiker with many miles under his belt, these hikes are ones you don’t want to miss.
See you out there on the trails!
Born and raised in the Big Sky Country of Montana, Leslie K. Hughes is a writer, editor, and communication specialist who calls Arizona Home. Leslie has over 10 years of experience in working with words and helping people use the magical English language to grow their businesses. When not traveling and choosing “cake over steak,” Leslie serves her fabulous clients as Copy Girl.