Hiking in the USA is iconic, diverse, and stunning! We’ve compiled the best hikes in America into a comprehensive bucket list for you to gain inspiration and plan your next hiking trip!
These hikes are unforgettable and under the radar, making them worth every challenging step!
Back in 2015, when we first moved into our RV with our 5 kids, we weren’t really hikers. But as we started traveling around the USA, we discovered so many epic trails that most of our travels became centered around hiking.
We traveled to Europe, New Zealand, Central America, and all over the US in search of trails to explore. We have this blog with a list of some of our favorite hikes around the world.
To put into perspective how much we hiked, we’ve put in about 3,000 miles in the last 8 years…That’s why we’ve been able to discover epic, bucket list hikes many people don’t know about!
Below, we’ve curated a list of our favorite US hikes after hiking hundreds of trails in the USA!
You’ll notice that most of our favorite hikes are in the Western half of the USA. We are obsessed with sharp jagged mountains and tend to stay close to the Rockies.
Last yaer, we did go out to the Great Smoky Mountains. While it was nice and a lot of people would’ve added Cades Cove to this list, it didn’t do it for me. We also explored Florida and none of the hikes there made the cut either 🤷🏻♀️.
I guess that is why I had to include our Fit To Hike program in this Hiking Bundle because pretty much all our favorite hikes climb mountains or drop into canyons where you eventually have to climb back out of.
Table of Contents
Hiking in The USA
Whether you’re hiking in summer in Montana, winter in Arizona, or fall in Colorado, you’ll always need to be prepared the right layers. After a decade of intense hiking obsessions, we know exactly what layers you need and when.
We’ve jumped around between lots of different brands for our layering solutions but we recently got to test out new layers by collaborating with adidas in the adidas bloggers community.
adidas jackets give you all the tiers of layering you need to stay warm or cool on your hiking adventures.
The layers you need are very seasonal and regionally dependent. In general, we always pack a lightweight wind/sun protection hoodie, a rain shell, and a puffer jacket.
The WIND.RDY Lined Hoodie is a great light layer to protect from sun and wind.
In the fall in the mountains, it’s important to make sure your puffer is a mid or heavy weight to keep you warm. The Helionic Hooded Down Jacket is great choice for this. For more packability, get the TERREX TechRock stretch Primalloft Jacket for your mountain hikes.
If you’re hiking in the rainy Pacific Northwest region, it’s important to have a highly durable rain jacket like a Gore-Tex rain jacket.
Remember, unless you’re trail running or speed hiking, it’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared!
Without further ado, here’s our votes for…
The All-Time Greatest Hikes in the USA
We didn’t rank these choices, but we have categorized them for simplicity.
Read more: 19 Greatest National Park Day Hikes
Best Hikes in Montana
Mount Aenaes is just outside of West Glacier and has epic views, isn’t too crowded, and there’s a good chance you’ll run into some mountain goats at the summit.
Related Blog: Best Hikes Just Outside Glacier NP (no permit required!)
Piney Creek Lake, Livingston
Piney Creek Lake near Livingston is a thigh burner and a unique addition to the best hike sin the USA. The snow-capped mountains surrounding the lake make each strenuous step worthwhile!
Frazier Lake, Bozeman
Frazier Lake near Bozeman has a short hiking window but if you can time it right, the shade of greens and blues make this lake one of the prettiest we’ve ever seen.
Dawson & Pitmakin Pass, Glacier National Park
When it comes to Glacier National Park, there’s too many great hikes to choose a favorite. Our entire family agreed that while the Highline Trail is nice, it isn’t worth dealing with crowds imo. And while we also loved all three lake hikes in Many Glacier- Cracker Lake, Iceberg Lake, and Grinnel Glacier, we thought the Dawson Pass & Pitamakan Pass was the best hike in Glacier.
It’s almost 19 miles long but it really is only hard for two and a half miles and the views all along the ridge from Dawson to Pitamakan passes mixed in with how few people you encounter make this our top pick.
Related Blog: Top 50 Hikes in Glacier NP (Ranked!)
Best Hikes in Colorado
Odessa Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park
While Sky Pond, Mills and Black Lake, and Chasm Lake are all gorgeous our top pick for Rocky Mountain NP is Odessa Lake to Lake Helene through hike because of the fewer crowds.
Long’s Peak, Rocky Mountain National Park
We haven’t done Longs Peak yet, which is on many people’s top 10 best hikes in the usa. We plan to climb it but haven’t yet so we can’t say if it’s worth the early morning start and dealing with crowds.
Related Blog: Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain NP
Zirkel Circle is near Steamboat Springs and brings you to pretty alpine lakes amongst beautiful mountains. We recommend doing the loop counterclockwise for the best views of the lake as you go over the pass.
Ten Peaks Traverse is definitely the scariest and most exposed of the hikes listed here. It starts in Frisco and climbs up peak 1 then goes across all 10 peaks that sit above Breckenridge. It’s a long hard day of hiking and scrambling along peak 3 and 4 but if you aren’t afraid of heights, it’s pretty epic.
Eccles Pass is also near Silverthorne and Breckenridge but is much tamer than the Ten Mile hike listed above. Start at Meadow Creek trail and hike 5 miles out to views of a gorgeous green meadow filled with small lakes.
All three of these hikes are great for seeing fall colors.
Best Hikes in Wyoming
Cirque of the Towers
Cirque of the Towers is another one of the most beautiful hikes in America. The first time we backpacked it and the second time we climbed to the top of one of the towers however, it is doable to just day hike it too. Although, then you’d miss how incredible the rocks look at sunrise and sunset.
Lost Twin Lakes, Tensleep
A similar but even easier day hike in Wyoming is the Lost Twin Lakes. This hike is located in the Bighorn Mountain range near Ten Sleep, a region full of amazing untouched wilderness for those willing to venture off the grid.
Glacier Lake, Red Lodge
Glacier Lake is right near Red Lodge, Montana but it’s technically on the Wyoming side. This hike is almost as gorgeous as Piney Creek in Livingston but it’s shorter and easier.
Paintbrush Canyon to Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park
We’ve done most of the hikes in Grand Tetons and if you are an advanced hiker, you’ll find an abundance of epic hikes like Middle Teton and Delta Lake. The overall most bang for your buck hike that doesn’t require off-trail travel is Paintbrush Canyon Divide to Cascade Canyon. This lets you tour the 2 most beautiful canyons in the park with amazing views of the Grand Teton and other alpine areas.
Related Blog: Best Hikes Grand Teton NP
Popo Agie Falls, Lander
We spend a lot of time in Lander and there is an easy hike in Sinks Canyon to Popo Agie Falls that I recommend doing if you are in the area. It’s never crowded and if you hike past the first waterfall, there’s a fun rock waterslide you can do.
Related: Discover 10 more of the Best Hikes in Wyoming
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone
While many say Yellowstone has amazing hiking, I personally can’t say many of these trails make the GOAT list. Tbh, we don’t hiking in Yellowstone. This trail can barely be considered a hike but it’s certainly a highlight of Yellowstone, the short trek out to see Grand Prismatic at sunrise is worth it.
Best Hikes in The Southwest: Utah & Arizona
Rim-River-Rim, Grand Canyon National Park
If you can time this one with good weather & enough daylight, it is a great day hike and much easier than I thought it would be. The striated colors of the canyon and the teal green river really make the effort worthwhile.
Related Blog: How To Hike The Grand Canyon Rim to River to Rim
The Subway Top-Down, Zion National Park
I know right… Surprising to see that we don’t have the Narrows is the best but I still prefer The Subway because it has route finding, short rappels, and a few freezing cold pools to swim across. This is no doubt one of the best hikes in the USA…but it is a little bit more than just a hike as you can see in the video below.
Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park
Angel’s Landing is a great hike however, the crowd factor makes it not so fun. To make this a truly unforgettable hike and for fewer crowds, make it a sunrise or sunset trek!
Fairyland Loop, Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
With the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world, it’s not hard to see why this hike is called Fairyland. Bryce Canyon is like traveling to another world and this hike has the highlights.
Double O Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
The most popular hike in Arches is Delicate Arch but with all the crowds, it honestly feels overrated. While you may still feel like you gotta see it once (go at sunrise if you do go), the Double O Arch hike is beautiful and almost equal in beauty. Arches is a great place to stop on your way to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park on a road trip.
Zebra Slot Canyon, Escalante, Utah
Zebra Slot Canyon is near Escalante. We did this hike in May and there was a lot of freezing cold water in the slot making it extra adventurous. Check conditions before heading out there. Regardless, the stark zebra-like striations are like nothing else we’ve seen before.
Devil’s Bridge, Sedona, Arizona
Devil’s Bridge, the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area, used to be quite a hidden gem when we hiked it a decade ago, but you may now recognize it as a popular Insta-worthy photo spot. While it’s certainly overrun with tourism, we can’t help but include it as a stunning, iconic hike in the Southwest. The key is to go super early to enjoy the arch without tons of people.
Best Hikes in Idaho
Alice Toxaway Loop, Sawtooth Range
The Alice Toxaway Loop in the Sawtooths is an epic long 20-mile route to gorgeous alpine lakes and jagged mountain peaks. This is a hike you can complete in one day if you are like us and prefer not to have to carry heavy backpacking packs.
Pro tip: The Sawtooths are full of many more insanely gorgeous hikes. Click here to discover more alpine lake hikes that aren’t as long and just as pretty.
Goat Lake, Sawtooth Range
If we’re talking GOAT hikes, it would be a crime to not include Goat Lake. This hike is strenuous but moderate in mileage to easily one of the most rewarding alpine lakes we’ve ever seen.
West Fork Butte Lookout, Lolo
Add variety to your adventure by hiking up to this old, incredible lookout tower converted into a cabin in the woods. Plan in advance and you can even reserve the cabin to spend the night in the cozy cabin.
Discover more of the top hikes in Idaho here.
Best Hikes in the Pacific Northwest: Washington & Oregon
The Enchantments, Leavenworth
The Enchantments near Leavenworth is a really hard day hike and one you can backpack instead if you can get a permit. Once you hike this, you’ll see why it’s so hard to get permits and why it’s one. ofthe best hikes in the usa!
Panorama Point via the Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
Smith Rock, Bend
We visit Smith Rock frequently to go rock climbing but even if you don’t climb, Smith Rock is a great hike. If you happen to visit in the summer and want a little more adventure, head over to Steelhead Falls for some cliff jumping or float the river in Bend.
Four-Mile to Panorma to Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park
This hike is strenuous, long, hard, and absolutely the most “bang-for-your-buck”, all-inclusive hike in Yosemite (that doesn’t require a permit).
You will see everything from the best vantage points. You will earn every single view through hundreds of painful steps and you will see Glacier Point, Vernal Falls, and Nevada Falls with completely different eyes than the swarms of people who hiked an hour on a paved trail to see the same views.
Best Hikes in Hawaii
Kalalau Trail, Kauai
The Kalalau Trail has grown to be a legendary trek that takes hikers along the rugged, pristine Na Pali Coastline in Kauai. The hike ends at Kalalau Beach, often said to be the number 1 beach in the world. That said, this hike is no easy feat. It’s overgrown and more strenuous than you’d expect of a hike at 100′ elevation…Oh yeah, and it’s 22 miles roundtrip.
Olomana Ridge, Oahu
While we did think the famous Kalalau Trail was beautiful, in many ways, we enjoyed hiking Olomana Ridge more. If you have the opportunity to do both, even better.
While this wasn’t one of my favorite hikes, I think many would love hiking
Best Hikes in Alaska
Eilson Alpine Trail, Denali National Park
Eilson Visitor Center is the end of the road at the iconic Denali National Park. The Alpine Trail is a steep but very short hike to a perfect lookout of the highest point in North America: Mt McKinley. The biggest challenge isn’t the trail, it’s scoring a day where you can happen to see the mountain come out from beneath the clouds that usually linger.
Crow Pass Cabin, Girdwood
An even better hike than the endless explorations to be had in Denali is down along Turnagain Arm. In the wilderness beyond the stunning ski town of Girdwood is a hike up to Crow Pass where a cabin looks out to an alpine lake and mountainscapes. It’s no easy trek but well worth it!
Best Hike in South Dakota
Black Elk Peak, Custer
Black Elk Peak is the highest peak between the Rockies and the Pyrenees. Crazy, right?! Though I don’t swoon for the Dakota peaks as I do for the Alps, there is something uniquely beautiful about the forests and rocky clusters of the Black Hills and Black Elk Peak delivers the best of it.
Pro tip: Be sure to combine this Black Elk Peak with the Sunday Gulch trail for an epic day hike.
Best Hikes in Smokies & The Northeast
Mount LeConte, Great Smoky Mountain
Mount LeConte may be a somewhat lackluster hike by Rocky Mountain standards but amongst the Appalachians, it’s a highlight.
Katahdin Dudley, Baxter State Park
This renowned knife-edge hike is not for the faint of heart. Though technical climbing skills aren’t required, they’re certainly useful on the exposed sections of scrambling.
That wraps up the most beautiful and best hikes in the USA! There are so many more ridiculously beautiful hikes in the USA and in the regions included in this blog so make sure to dive deeper in the places nearby:
- 13 Best Hikes in Beautiful Idaho
- 16 Best Hikes in Wyoming
- 10 Best Hikes in the Black Hills
- 10 Best Hikes in Grand Teton National Park
- 50 Best Hikes in Glacier National Park (Ranked)
- 30 Best Hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park
- Best Hikes in Zion National Park + St George
- Yellowstone to Mount Rushmore National Park Road Trip
- Grand Teton to Glacier NP Road Trip
- Big 3 Utah National Parks Road Trip
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