Lace up your boots and hit the trail; summer will be over before you know it. You don’t have to a hardcore hiker to step outside of your comfort zone and explore the world, or even your state, on foot.
Trekking up a mountain is a stunning way to spend your afternoon or your week-long vacation. Along with the sheer beauty and natural appreciation that comes with rambling through a trail, mountaineering also enhances your health and improves your mood.
Few adventures feel more liberating than taking on a challenging trail in the summer. Heading up to new heights with nothing but a light pack is an incredible emotion, matched only by the breathtaking views from the top. Chances are, regardless where you live, there is a spectacular hike for you to embark on.
The hikes on the following list have been chosen after comparing reviews on internet hiking websites, some of which include alltrails.com and trails.com. The hikes with the best ratings and the most positive comments made it.
Walls of Jericho is a 6-mile trail located in Alabama. The trail starts going downhill. It can be a strenuous hike on the way back up, but visitors say it’s definitely worth it. Capture views of waterfalls, scenery and swim in a swimming hole if you desire. You also have the option to camp out overnight. Other hikes in Alabama include Natural Wells Trail in Montesano State Park and the Sipsey Wilderness hikes in Borden Creek.
One of the most spectacular hikes in the country, the Harding Icefield Trail is beautiful year-round. This is an extremely difficult trail, taking about 8-6 hours to complete. You are going to see incredible views of the Icefield. If you go in the winter, know that there is a large black bear population. Enjoy the excitement, but also take precaution. Summer is popular for ranger-led hikes.
A trip to the Grand Canyon is incomplete without a hike and the Bright Angel Trail is an incredible choice. The trail leads hikers from the south rim down to the Colorado River, over the course of 9.5 miles. Access to two campsites means you can stay overnight, but many people chose to continue, taking the South Kaibab Trail back to the rim.
Arkansas isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you consider top-notch backpacking destinations, but the Ozarks definitely deserve credit for long treks like these 14 miles (Mile 208 to 222) through lush, dogwood-studded forests with quiet trailside camping. Prepare for moderate climbs and a gorgeous view from the top of White Rock Mountain.
If the romance of the name "Lost Coast" isn't enough to lure you on this classic Northern California beach hike, the promise of ancient redwoods, black-sand beaches, sea cliffs and creek crossings should be. The trek starts at Shelter Cove, which is near—well, nothing, hence the name Lost Coast—and proceeds north to Mattole. The full point-to-point hike is 24 miles, so day-hikers may want to experience the beauty in smaller doses.
The Garden of the Gods Park is home to picturesque red-sandstone formations and mountain views. There are many trails to try. Depending on conditions, easy walks, even in the winter, include the Perkins Central Garden Trail or the Siamese Twins Trail. With names like “Kissing Camels” and “Three Graces,” these natural snow-dusted formations make a peaceful backdrop for 15 miles of trails.
The Ragged Mountain Preserve Trail is a 5.5-mile trafficked loop trail. “Been going here for years- love the views and how it can be anything from a short hike up to the first vista or a full day trek. Definitely would recommend this as the best hike near central CT,” a review from All Trails says.
Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge Loop is a 8.5-mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Smyrna. Walk the Boardwalk Trail and view the salt marsh. The best time to go is between September and May. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, and nature trips, according to All Trails.
Hike the Amicalola Falls State Park to Georgia’s tallest waterfall, the southernmost point of the Appalachian Trail. Make sure you have enough time for a hike to this stunning waterfall before departing for the Hike Inn. The adventure departs from a trailhead near the crest of Amicalola Falls, according to Atlanta Trails.
The 11-mile long Kalalau Trail provides the only foot access to the spectacular Na Pali Coast of Kauai and the hidden beaches along the way. The rugged trail, steep and eroded in places, traverses five distinct valleys before ending at a final one, Kalalau. The trail contours around the heavily vegetated cliffs, or fluted ridges—pali in Hawaiian, hence Na Pali Coast.
The amazing Tubbs Hill hike is actually quite short – just 2.4 miles. But it’s worth it. The moderately trafficked loop trail is great for families. Numerous reviews on All Trails say Tubbs Hill has incredible views. One review specifically said: “You get a good view of the lake and there are lots of beaches you can go down to for swimming or relaxing.”
If your ideal summer getaway is a peaceful retreat into nature, look no further than Starved Rock State Park. Scenic hiking trails lead you to waterfalls, sandstone canyons and overlooks of the Illinois River. The park is a quick 90 minute drive out of Chicago, or if you’re an avid cyclist, the ride is worth the challenge.
The Clifty Falls State Park Loop Trail is a bit difficult. It is a 5.7-mile loop trail. You will see caves, forests, rivers, very high waterfalls and wildflowers along the way. It is absolutely breathtaking. Trails are well marked. You can bring your dog on this trail but it must be kept on a leash.
The best hike in Iowa was chosen to be the 25-mile Backpack Trail at Yellow River State Forest in 1996 It is still as amazing as it was back then. The views of deep woods and the native oak on a rolling course across limestone bluffs are gorgeous.
The main visitor season is from April through October with the off-season November through March, according to NPS. The hiking trails are open 24/7 year-round, closing only in times of prescribed fire. The 10-mile hike can be completed in a day. You will pass the graveled Scenic Overlook Trail where you’ll see the best view of the preserve’s herd of resident bison. If you go in the spring, you will see wild indigo wildflowers and prairie coneflower.
This is a quiet hike. The 5.4-mile loop trail offers wildflower viewing, stunning streams, and rock outcroppings. It’s open year-round. Visitors say it also offers great views during the winter months of surrounding cliffs. The trail ends at the top right at the Natural Bridge Arch. Also look at Mammoth Cave National Park.
The number of “attractions” in incredible - alligators, hundreds of bird species, marshlands, 26 miles of natural Gulf of Mexico beaches, fishing, crabbing, and, of course, Cajun culture will make this 180-mile hike a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Affectionately known as Louisiana’s Outback, the Creole Nature Trail is a journey into one of America’s “Last Great Wildernesses,” according to Visit Lake Charles.
Yes, this is a very easy, short and heavily trafficked hike but it’s really worth it. The highest point in the park and on the East Coast, Cadillac Mountain rises to 1,528 feet above sea level. The Path is located near the iconic Bar Harbor and is good for all skill levels.
The Billy Goat Trail is by far one of the most popular hikes in Maryland. It’s about 7.8 miles long. Jump over rocks, capture views of the Potomac River from approximately 50 feet above and pass small ponds, six streams, wetlands and cross a small log bridge, according to Maryland Parks and Forests.
Capture incredible views of the southern Berkshires and the Housatonic River Valley on a hike up Monument Mountain. Several loop options are available – the 1.51-mile Indian Monument Trail which takes you through the remains of ancient native American trails; the 0.83 mile Hickey Trail, which is the more strenuous approach; and the 0.62-mile Squaw Peak Trail, which offers the best views.
This is one fun and adventurous trail. It spans more than 200 miles. It will take you from Empire on Lake Michigan to Oscoda on Lake Huron. You may also finish the hike at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The views of the water will take your breath away.
The best hiking in Minnesota is Eagle Mountain. It’s the highest point in the state at 2,301 feet. The Eagle Mountain Hike is approximately 7 miles round-trip. It can be strenuous, due to its steep hills, but visitors say it’s worth it. Enjoy views of the Zoo Lakes, Lake Superior and Brule Lake. Tip: Sturdy footwear is highly recommended for this hike.
A 440-mile footpath that was used for centuries by Native Americans and traders was later developed as a vital corridor between the Mississippi River and what is now Nashville, Tennessee. Commemorated as the Natchez Trace Parkway, a scenic two-lane road from Natchez to Nashville, the route was designated as a national scenic trail in 1983. Although some portions are on the original sunken footpath, only five disconnected segments totaling 65 miles are actual off-road trail.
The Ozark Trails sand more than 360 miles. You will see hills, valleys, waterfalls, knobs, streams and other incredible landscapes all the way from Ozark Mountains to southeastern Missouri. The highest point in the state, Mina Sauk Falls, which is also the state’s tallest waterfall at 1,772 feet, is in the Traum Sauk State Park.
The Norwesca Trail offers a hiking experience through open woodland, valleys, rugged buttes, dense tree cover, and high sights. The dirt path begins with a slow descent, and then levels along a small gully area before leading up to a climb. You will go up to 4,173 feet in elevation. You need a state park permit to enter.
The 2.2-mile hike takes about two hours, on average, to complete. It’s for people who like moderate to strenuous trails. The trail will take you to a hidden water pocket and a spot for absolutely gorgeous views of Sin City.
It’s hard to choose because New Hampshire itself is a beautiful destination for all kinds of recreational activities. This particular 3.2-mile, short hike goes up to the summit of Mount Willard and overlooks the gorgeous Crawford Notch. It’s for hikers who want a nice balance of challenge and sights.
Tent Rocks Canyon trail is 3 miles long and will take you way out and back. The moderate trail passes through a slot canyon with hoodos and striated rock formations, according to All Trails. It is a religious site of the Cochiti Pueblo. There are railroad ties to make steps to get to the top.
Whiteface Mountain, the fifth highest peak in New York, is located in the Adirondacks. The best way to get to its top is the Wilmington Trail. Everywhere you turn you are in awe of the magnificent wilderness views.
The 10.4-mile out and back adventurous trail, located near Burnsville, is recommended for mostly experienced hikers. The path is rough, the climbs are steep, and the elevation gain is about 3,700 feet. It starts at the Black Mountain Campground on the Toe River. Follow the trail to get to the 6,684-foot Mount Mitchell summit.
This is North Dakota’s best kept secret. The name means "Grandfather" or "an area that has been or will be around for a long time.” Along the 96-mile trail you’re likely to see mule and whitetail deer, antelope, wild turkeys, beaver, prairie dogs, golden eagle, red tail hawk, bighorn sheep, and elk.
Backpackers are often seen hiking this trail. The 12.30mile hike will take you to a spectacular swinging bridge. Bikers find the trail very difficult, but an absolute thrill. The forested trail is along a scenic lake so you can imagine how stunning the views are.
The waterfall, a magnificent 611-foot-tall attraction, is just about half an hour away from Portland. The Multnomah Falls, which does not dry up in the summer unlike many other waterfalls, is an awe-inspiring cascade of icy water. See it from the Benson Bridge for an ideal view of the top tier's full 542-foot height and a knee-wobbling vantage point over the second tier's 69-foot drop.
This is the trail you hike if you are in the state and want to see impressive waterfalls and caves. But keep in mind that the 4-mile Glen Onoko Run Trail is a technical trail, so make sure you have the proper wear and accessories.
Try cliff walking for 3.5 miles along the eastern shore of Newport. This is a very popular public access walk – a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District – that combines the natural beauty of the coast with the architectural history of the city’s golden age. Wildflowers, birds, geology will make the trip even more charming.
The 3.5-mile moderately trafficked and moderately difficult out and back trail, according to All Trails, features a beautiful and huge waterfall. It is accessible year-round. Hikers have described as “excellent front-country hike along a ridge to an impressive waterfall viewpoint.” Trail is well-graded and well-marked.
Devil’s Bathtub is one of the most worthwhile hikes in Spearfish Canyon. It can be quick but you can take your time soaking up the gorgeous views and make it a day trip. While hiking the tiny limestone corridor, you’ll have to cross streams, walk on rocks, and balance yourself on a makeshift bridge. Look up from time to time and you’ll see that some parts of the walls are shielded with moss, giving them an ancient look.
Hike along the Savage Gulf Loop near Chattanooga for about 9 miles and you’ll be compensated with views of tall and unspoiled waterfalls, otherworldly swimming holes, sandstone craters, and more than 50 miles of trails. Anywhere you turn you’ll see hardwood forests, towering cliffs, and odd rock formations.
Backpacker Magazine has named Big Bend South Rim Trail and Guadalupe Peak as some of the Best Day Hikes in America. This trail is about 12-14.5 miles round trip. You can choose to backpack or take a day hike. Along with the South Rim Loop, Big Bend National Park offers the opportunity to admire hundreds of bird species and the large amount of 500 million year old rocks.
This is definitely one of the most legendary canyons to hike in all of Zion National Park. It’s easy to hike the park’s slot canyons – when it’s not raining. If a sudden storm hits the area, don’t waste time and find refuge somewhere high. Unexpected and abrupt flash flooding is common year-round.
The Mt. Mansfield State Park’s namesake mountain is the highest point in Vermont. The most scenic and classic hike to the 4,300-foot summit is the Sunset Ridge Trail. Much of the route is above the tree line, providing the best views of any trail on the mountain.
Hiking this section of the Appalachian Trail in perfect 60-degree weather is like a dream come true. Along the 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the park you will see stunning panoramic views of incredible green foliage. Enjoy the wetlands and waterfalls.
This is a well maintained but highly trafficked trail that takes you through the forest with views of the Cedar River watershed, Mount Si, Mount Washington, Rattlesnake Lake and Chester Morse Lake, according to Washington Trails Association.
The trail is in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. You can see many gorgeous sites of the park along the trail, including remarkable settings, Civil War history, and a footbridge over the Potomac.
The 4.7-mile moderate loop trail features a lake. The hike offers several activities – hiking, camping and fishing are among the more popular – and is best used from July until November. Hikers like the trail for its elevation gains and incredible views throughout.
The Teton Crest Trail is the highlight hike of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Explore the glorious Teton Range, witness the high divides and passes, majestic alpine lakes, and stunning views at the legendary rocky peaks. The best time to go is between July and September when you’ll see all kinds of colors, flowers and wildlife. There are plenty of campsites in case you decide to take a break along the 37mile-trail.