Great American Hikes You Need to Take Before Summer Ends

These 20 epic treks are some of the best in the country

When you think of summertime, do you think of long days in the sun, warm fire-side nights and weekends spent on the trail? [slideshow:1411]

If that’s how you imagine spending your summer than you know there’s nothing more liberating than lacing up your hiking boots and taking on a challenging trail in the height of summer. Heading up to new heights, in short sleeves with a light pack is an incredible feeling, matched only by the breathtaking views from the top.

We’re officially at the start of summer, so hopefully this sampling of epic trails from around the U.S. will inspire some trips and treks in the coming months.

Whether you’re a beginner who just got your first pair of trail shoes or you’re a seasoned pro who’s taken on some impressive thru hikes, this list of hikes should offer enough challenge for the most skilled trekker and some should be accessible enough for beginners.

Before you plan your summer vacations, check out these 20 hikes that are definitely worth your while.

Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop—Grand Teton National Park, Wyo.

One of the most breathtaking hikes in the country, the Paintbrush-Cascade Canyon Loop is about 19 miles long and gains around 4,000 feet of elevation. Certainly not for beginners or those looking for an easy day hike, but if you’re willing to put in the work, the experience and the views are unbelievable. You can camp overnight in either of the canyons and as you descend Cascade it seems as though you’re walking right into the mighty Tetons.

Waihee Ridge Trail—Maui, Hawaii

The Waihee ridgeline is beautiful any time of year but the lush greenery and tropical scenery are perhaps most incredible in the summer. This five mile hike in Maui climbs more than 1,500 feet through forest and over a winding ridge—so be sure to bring plenty of water. The beginning of the hike may be a bit brutal but the views of water cascading off Makamaka’ole Falls are amazing and seeing the valley from the farthest peak is incredibly surreal.

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