Hiking & Camping

Must-visit Hiking Destinations in the United States

Tim Gillespie
January 16, 2024

Have you hiked all the local trails in your neighborhood? Are you looking to explore some of the United States' natural wonders? We’ve got you covered with a roundup of the best hiking destinations in the United States. Hike through pristine rainforests, ascend jagged peaks, discover ancient ruins, and get sprayed by the mist of amazing waterfalls. The United States is home to some of the world’s best hiking, so lace up your hiking boots, and let’s hit the trails.

Check out our list of Top Travel Solo Destinations in the United States.

The Tetons

The Teton Range extends for 40 miles along the Wyoming / Idaho border, encompassing Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming, and the Jedediah Smith Wilderness in Teton National Forest near Driggs, Idaho.

Wyoming’s majestic Teton Mountains are the centerpiece of Grand Teton National Park. Hiking trails, ranging from easy day hikes to overnight backcountry excursions, navigate through a scene rich with extraordinary wildlife, shimmering alpine lakes, and lush meadows.

Recommended Hikes in the Tetons

Phelps Loop, Grand Teton National Park

7.2 miles (11.58 kilometers)

Hike through sagebrush flats, forest, and meadows to scenic Phelps Lake, nestled in a glacial bowl beneath Prospector Mountain, Albright Peak, and Static Divide Peak. This hike offers the quietness of the backcountry and a great place to take a swim in the cold, refreshing glacial waters. 

Surprise and Amphitheatre Lakes, Grand Teton National Park

10.5 miles (16.8 kilometers)

A scenic hike to two lovely lakes tucked in a rugged cirque beneath Disappointment Peak. Views from the lakes extend to high summits of the Teton Range.

Taylor Mountain, Driggs, Idaho

8.8 miles (14.1 kilometers)

Wildflowers and far-reaching views of the high peaks in the Tetons, Gros Ventre, Snake River, and Big Hole Ranges are the highlights of this scenic trail ascending the beautiful meadows of the Coal Creek Valley before climbing to the summit of Taylor Mountain.

Bonneville Pass, Jackson, Wyoming

5.2 miles (8.3 kilometers)

This short trail leads to the beautiful meadows of Bonneville Pass with nice views of Pinnacle Buttes and the volcanic peaks and cliffs rising above the Brooks Lake area and the Dunoir Valley, located to the northeast of the Tetons.

Additional Reading:  Top Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Lake Tahoe

Located along the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe’s sparkling blue waters and fantastic mountain scenery continuously exceed the expectations of those who come to visit. From lake adventures in the summer, to scenic foliage drives in autumn, and world-class skiing in the winter, Lake Tahoe welcomes outdoor enthusiasts all year round. Discover sandy shores tucked away in tiny coves, boulder-strewn summits, and vast fields of wildflowers on these must-do hikes.

Recommended Hikes around Lake Tahoe

Five Lakes Trail, Olympic Valley, California

5 miles (8 kilometers)

This out and back trail travels through pine forests and fields of wildflowers making its way to alpine lakes nestled in the foothills of the Granite Chief Wilderness. Though the trail is mostly uphill, there is nothing too steep, and the extra effort is worth the tranquil settings you’ll find at the lakes. Enjoy a swim, set up a picnic on the shore, or cast a line and hook a fish. Whatever you choose, you’ll find yourself at peace.

Mount Tallac Trail, Desolation Wilderness, California

10.5 miles (16.8 kilometers)

Rising prominently and towering 3,500 feet (10,066 meters) over Lake Tahoe’s southwest shoreline, Mt. Tallac is one of the most popular and rewarding summits in the Tahoe region. The hike features breathtaking panoramic views of the vast and sparkling indigo waters of Lake Tahoe and the glacially sculpted 63,000-acre Desolation Wilderness.

Additional Reading: 6 Must-do Hikes in Lake Tahoe for All Levels of Hikers

Southeast Utah

Public lands in southeast Utah protect an amazing landscape of high desert plateaus carved into a maze of intricate canyons, mesas, buttes, fins, arches, and spires. Hikers will find trails that travel through scenic canyons, visit magnificent arches, and lead to spectacular panoramic viewpoints. Numerous hikes offer the opportunity to discover Ancestral Puebloan cliff ruins and rock art in a natural setting. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are also home to this region. 

Recommended Hikes in Southeast Utah

Mesa Arch Trail, Canyonlands National Park

0.5 miles ( 0.8kilometers)

This short hike will take you to the most iconic arch in Canyonlands. You won’t be alone on this trail as it is the most visited section of the park but that doesn’t mean you should skip it. An early sunrise hike will provide you with one of the best views.

Devil’s Garden Trail, Arches National Park

4.2 miles (6.7 kilometers)

The Devil’s Garden is filled with arches, spires, and fins, and offers some of the most breathtaking views. It is considered one of the premier locations in Arches National Park. Check out our Top Hikes in Arches National Park for more information.

Natural Bridges National Monument Loop Trail, Blanding, Utah

8.6 miles (13.8 kilometers)

This great loop hike in Natural Bridges National Monument visits three majestic natural bridges, crosses a high desert landscape, and wanders along two scenic canyons with rock art panels and ancestral Puebloan ruins.

Procession Panel, Bluff, Utah 

2.8 miles (4.5 kilometers)

If you love rock art you will want to visit Procession Panel. The impressive petroglyph panel, thought to represent a ceremonial gathering or migration story, depicts 179 human-like forms coming from three different directions and converging on a central circle.

Learn more about Salt Lake City in our Top Things to Do in Salt Lake City, Utah article.

Yosemite National Park, California

No doubt you’ve heard about Yosemite National Park as it’s one of the crown jewels of America’s national park system. Hikers can criss-cross more than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) of trails to take in Yosemite’s dramatic scenery, including towering granite walls, dramatic waterfalls, and giant sequoias. Every season has its not-to-be-missed highlights from legendary hikes, valley bike rides, rafting, and snowshoeing through a winter wonderland. However, for those planning on hiking or backpacking in Yosemite, the best time to do it is during the summer months.

Recommended Hikes in Yosemite

Cathedral Lakes, Tuolumne Meadows Area, Yosemite National Park

8 miles (13 kilometers)

Explore some of the grandest glacially carved terrain in the Yosemite high country. This hike visits the shores of both Lower and Upper Cathedral Lakes and passes through splendid alpine scenery including the shapely granite pinnacles that form Cathedral Peak.

The Mist Trail, Curry Village, Yosemite National Park

6.6 miles (10.6 kilometers)

One of Yosemite’s signature hikes, The Mist Trail brings hikers to two amazing waterfalls that together total more than 900 feet (270 meters). Oh, and if you time your hike during waterfall season (springtime) then you will most likely get wet while hiking beside Vernal Fall.

Additional Reading: Top Hikes in Yosemite National Park

Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina

A great year-round getaway, Western North Carolina’s rolling hills offer hikers plenty of options and adventures to be found. Hiking trails lead up to mountain top panoramic views and peaceful swimming holes alongside cascading waterfalls. The vibrant mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina serves as a great base for exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just around the corner as well.

Recommended in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Shining Rock via the Art Loeb Trail, Shining Rock Wilderness Area

9.5 miles (15.2 kilometers)

One of the most spectacular hikes in the Southern Appalachians, this trail provides stunning vistas as it crosses several miles of open bald country. Atop the summit of Shining Rock, hikers will find An elaborate network of Quartzite Rock formations that are known as the “Crown Jewel” of Appalachia to the locals.  

Linville Falls, Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Marker 316

2.2 miles (3.5 kilometers)

Climb to high-elevation views in a steep-walled gorge just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Take in three waterfall overlooks, each catching a unique perspective of the upper falls, immense lower falls, and the surrounding gorge.  

Graveyard Ridge and Graveyard Fields Loop, Blue Ridge Parkway Mile Marker 418

6 miles (9.6 kilometers)

Hike a loop at Graveyard Fields, one of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s most popular hiking destinations, to ridgeline views, two waterfalls, and through fields of wildflowers, wild blueberries, and blackberries.

White Mountains, New Hampshire

The White Mountain National Forest is one of New Hampshire’s most beloved outdoor playgrounds. Consisting of some of the most impressive alpine terrains on the East Coast, these rocky peaks feature miles of hiker-friendly ridgelines so you can spend your days above treeline soaking in the views. Plus, Mount Washington, the Northeast’s tallest peak, is located in the White Mountains.

Recommended Hikes in the White Mountains

Franconia Ridge Loop, Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire

8.5 miles (13.6 kilometers)

This strenuous and challenging hike summits three of the state’s famed 4000-foot (1,200+ meters) peaks. Along the way, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the White Mountains and Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.

Welch-Dickey Loop, Thornton, New Hampshire

4.4 miles (7.1 kilometers)

Connecting the Welch and Dickey mountains of New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley area, this popular loop trail features bare rock scrambles, steep ledges, and a spectacular payoff with views of the White Mountains.

Additional Reading: 22 Must-see Parks in the Northeastern United States

Olympic National Park, Washington

Covering nearly one million acres, Olympic National Park provides three distinct ecosystems—glaciated mountains, rugged Pacific coastline, and lush temperate forests—and their distinct flora and fauna for nature-lovers to explore. Over 95% of the park is designated wilderness, protecting one of the largest wilderness areas in the lower 48, allowing visitors to experience remoteness and pristine nature in a way that few other places can.

Recommended Hikes in Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Falls Trail, Sol Duc Valley, Washington

1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers)

A relatively easy trail to visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Olympic National Park. Walk through an old-growth forest and along boardwalks while admiring the lush rainforest landscape. Consider visiting on a cloudy day, or during the morning and evening hours, when light and shadows dance through the landscape.

Hoh River Trail, Hoh Rain Forest, Washington

17.4 miles (28 kilometers)

One of the few and finest examples of temperate rainforest in the United States, the Hoh Rain Forest is one of the most popular places to visit in Olympic National Park. This iconic hiking trail caters for family-friendly day hikes and overnight adventures. The first 13 miles of the Hoh River Trail are relatively flat as the path navigates the sights, sounds, and overwhelming presence of the rainforest. 

Ozette Triangle Loop, Ozette, Washington

9.4 miles (15.1 kilometers)

Located on the northern Wilderness Coast, this popular coastal route combines the beauty of lush forest environments and rugged beachscapes. Available for overnight adventures (permit required), the Ozette Loop is also a manageable day hike given the proper time.

Additional Reading: 27 Must See Parks in the Western United States

It should come as no surprise that the United States is home to plenty of incredible hiking destinations. From the East Coast to the West Coast, and everything in between, hikers of all levels can find a trail that suits them best. Do yourself, and us, a favor, head out for a hike and experience the benefits of being outdoors.

More hiking articles from Under30Experiences:

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Tim Gillespie
Tim is U30X's Thailand Manager & Community Builder, and has been living, traveling and accumulating experiences in SE Asia since 2009. He loves being in the outdoors, immersing himself in local cultures, and tasting exotic foods.


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