While the West—with its high altitudes, rugged peaks and chill, outdoorsy vibe—has quietly claimed the mantle of quintessential hiking paradise, it's too soon to write off everything east of the Mississippi.
After all, seemingly endless wilderness stretches along the Ozark Highland, North Country Scenic and Appalachian Trails, so missing out on the chance to climb a 14er doesn't mean you miss out on quiet singletrack trails, panoramic views and majestic peaks.
Yes, the East is, in its way, smaller than the West. But it's also greener, more accessible (at least two of these hikes can be reached by public transportation!), wetter and wilder by the year as farmlands go fallow, allowing species like wolves, bears and moose to reclaim their native habitats. We've rounded up a list of 20 amazing Eastern day hikes, including a classic tromp through New Hampshire's White Mountains, a wild hike through an urban oasis, a birder's paradise in the Everglades and even a gorgeous (and strenuous) climb in the wilds just outside of New York City.
So what are you waiting for? The forests, fields and mountains of the East are yours to discover. It's time to lace up your hiking boots and hit the trail.
Caitlin Giddings reported for this slideshow.