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The Best Hikes In The United States

The United States is home to a diverse range of landscapes, from the rocky coastlines of Maine to the staggering peaks of the Rocky Mountains. There’s no better way to experience the natural beauty this country has to offer than by hitting the trails. For adventurers and nature lovers alike, here are five of the best hikes in the United States, including a unique gem in New York: the Eternal Flame hike.

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Eternal Flame Falls, New York

Eternal Flame Falls, New York

Photo by Wirestock on Istock

Nestled within Chestnut Ridge Park in Western New York, the Eternal Flame Falls trail is one of the most unique hikes in the United States. This moderately challenging 1.5-mile round-trip hike takes you through serene forests and across gentle streams before arriving at its centerpiece: a small waterfall with a natural gas flame flickering behind it. What makes it magical is that this flame is eternal, often staying lit even when the waterfall is at its most powerful. The flame is fueled by natural gas escaping through cracks in the shale rock. The surreal sight of fire behind water makes this hike a must for any nature enthusiast.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California

Photo by Madhu Shesharam on Unsplash

From the serene beauty of New York to the awe-inspiring grandeur of California, the Half Dome hike in Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic in the United States. The 14-16 mile round-trip trail is strenuous and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. The trek takes you through lush forests, past thundering waterfalls, and culminates with a heart-pounding ascent up the dome’s steep granite face using cables. From the summit, the panoramic views of Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra are absolutely breathtaking.

Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Photo by David Waite on Unsplash

Angels Landing is another heart-pounding trail that’s not for the faint of heart but offers an unforgettable experience. Located in Zion National Park in Utah, this 5.4-mile round-trip hike is renowned for its narrow ridge and steep drops. The final ascent involves holding onto chains for support while navigating a narrow path with sheer cliffs on either side. However, once at the top, hikers are rewarded with magnificent 360-degree views of the Zion Canyon below.

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii

Photo by Alain Bonnardeaux on Unsplash

For a taste of tropical paradise combined with rugged hiking, look no further than the Kalalau Trail on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. This challenging 22-mile round-trip trail traverses along the stunning Na Pali Coast, offering unparalleled views of the Pacific Ocean. The trail winds through lush valleys, along sea cliffs, and across streams. The endpoint of the trail is the idyllic Kalalau Beach, where you can rest and take a refreshing dip in the ocean before heading back.

The Appalachian Trail, Eastern U.S.

The Appalachian Trail, Eastern U.S.

Photo by John Verrone on Unsplash

Stretching over 2,180 miles from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world. Though few attempt to hike its entirety, many sections offer exceptional hiking experiences. One of the most scenic sections is the 8-mile round trip hike up to Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which is the highest point of the trail. On a clear day, it offers views over the undulating mountains stretching to the horizon.

Hurricane Ridge Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington

Hurricane Ridge Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington

Photo by Susan Flynn on Unsplash

For a high-altitude adventure with jaw-dropping vistas, the Hurricane Ridge Trail in Olympic National Park is a must-visit. Situated in the heart of the park, Hurricane Ridge is accessible via a 17-mile drive that is an experience in itself, offering majestic views of the Olympic Mountains.

Once at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, you have several trail options ranging from easy to moderate. One of the popular choices is the Hurricane Hill Trail, a 3.2-mile round-trip path that’s suitable for hikers of varying levels. As you ascend through alpine meadows, keep an eye out for black-tailed deer and marmots. The summit offers panoramic views encompassing the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Mount Olympus, and on a clear day, even Canada’s Vancouver Island.

Hurricane Ridge is also a year-round destination, with opportunities for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter months.

Precipice Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

Precipice Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine

Photo by Cheri Alguire on Istock

The Precipice Trail is a short but adrenaline-pumping hike up the east face of Champlain Mountain. This 2.5-mile round-trip trail involves iron rungs, ladders, and narrow ledges. Although it’s not for those with a fear of heights, reaching the summit offers stunning views of the Acadia coastline and the Atlantic Ocean.

Maroon Bells Scenic Loop, Colorado

Maroon Bells Scenic Loop, Colorado

Photo by Joshua Woroniecki on Unsplash

Maroon Bells, near Aspen, is one of the most photographed locations in Colorado and for a good reason. The Scenic Loop is an easy 1.9-mile trail, making it accessible for hikers of all levels. This hike takes you around Maroon Lake and provides stunning views of the Maroon Bells, two strikingly beautiful peaks in the Elk Mountains.

Conundrum Hot Springs Trail, White River National Forest, Colorado

Conundrum Hot Springs Trail, White River National Forest, Colorado

Photo by ablokhin on Istock

This hike combines the beauty of alpine landscapes with the luxury of natural hot springs. The Conundrum Hot Springs Trail is a challenging 17-mile round-trip hike that takes you through the gorgeous Elk Range. The highlight of the trail is reaching Conundrum Hot Springs, where you can take a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs while surrounded by the stunning peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

 Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

Photo by Josh jfisher on Unsplash

The Highline Trail is one of the best ways to experience Glacier National Park. This 11.8-mile point-to-point trail takes you along the Continental Divide and offers incredible views of alpine meadows, jagged peaks, and possibly some mountain goats. A popular portion of this hike includes the Garden Wall, a narrow pathway with heart-stopping cliffs and views that stretch out seemingly forever.

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Photo by Sheelah Brennan on Unsplash

The Grand Canyon is an emblem of the American West’s dramatic landscapes, and hiking the Bright Angel Trail is one of the quintessential ways to experience its splendor. Starting from the South Rim, the Bright Angel Trail is a strenuous but incredibly rewarding 12-mile round-trip hike. It descends into the very depths of the Grand Canyon, offering unparalleled perspectives of the canyon’s majestic layers and the Colorado River.

As you traverse the switchbacks and make your way down, keep an eye out for fossils and ancient pictographs. The trail’s endpoint is the lush oasis of Indian Garden, where you can take a well-deserved rest under the cottonwood trees before making the ascent back up.

However, a word of caution: the hike is tough, especially during summer when temperatures soar. It’s essential to be well-prepared with water, snacks, and to start early to avoid the heat.

America’s landscapes are as diverse as they are vast, offering a cornucopia of trails that cater to every type of hiker. From the mystical Eternal Flame Falls in New York to the staggering depths of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, these trails weave through some of the country’s most stunning and varied terrains.

Embarking on these adventures not only invigorates the body but also nourishes the soul. Each trail tells a different story – of geological wonders, ecosystems that thrived for centuries, and sometimes the indomitable human spirit that connects with nature.

However, as we revel in the beauty and thrill these trails provide, it is essential to remember our responsibilities as stewards of these natural wonders. Practicing Leave No Trace principles, respecting wildlife, and preserving the sanctity of these places is crucial.

So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your essentials, and set forth on an adventure through the wonders that stretch from sea to shining sea. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or someone looking for a serene retreat in nature, the trails in the United States offer an escapade that can become a cherished memory in the treasury of your experiences.

As John Muir, a renowned naturalist and the “Father of National Parks,” once said, “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” Happy trails to you, as you seek and find the boundless gifts that nature has to offer.

Interested in more hikes, check out: Top 10 Hikes In The World For Jaw-Dropping Views

and The Best Epic Hikes In Norway

or maybe more of the United States: Exploring Hidden Natural Gems In The United States

and Exploring The Wonders Of Maine

-Sarah, Tripio Guru

 

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