With wilderness trails spanning thousands of miles from its northern to southern boarder, America provides a variety of trails and hikes suitable for the amature and the experienced hiker. It’s a perfect way to explore the beauty of the different states and keep fit in the process.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders and is naturally absolutely incredible to hike. Inhaling the views of this great rift in the rock of the Colorado Plateau is one of the all time great experiences available to walkers, but be warned you must be prepared for a fatigue draining hike in often equally taxing conditions. The temperatures you could experience whilst trekking will vary wildly between scorching heat and – especially if you’re planning on doing an overnight hike – bitter cold, so be prepared and do research on the kind of gear you need to take. As long as you plan your hike properly and constantly hydrate the landscape and views offered by the Grand Canyon’s many trails will take your breath away and be forever carved into your memory.
The Appalachian Trail
From walk’s you can conquer in a couple of days to one which will take even experienced hikers several months to complete; one of the jewels of the unofficial Triple Crown of long distance trails in the US. The Appalachian Trail is a mammoth jaunt encompassing 2,174 miles (3,455km) of the ridges and valleys of the Appalachians which spans 14 of America’s states. If you are looking for an extreme hiking experience or for a way to escape from the rigors and banality of modern society the Appalachian Trail is the perfect way to get a true taste of wild America. There are simply too many awe inspiring things to be seen across the trail for us to possibly to do justice with our meagre word count. When Hiking the Appalachian, and indeed any long distance trail, it is essential you plan properly. If you do the whole hike or any decent portion you’ll likely be crossing states and will experience extreme weather during the winter in places.
Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The snow-brushed peaks of Grand Teton National Park peaks jut directly out of the Wyoming grasslands and pierce the tumultuous mid-western skyline. The park is an adventure enthusiasts dream and is home to some awesome hikes and rock climbs including a portion of the Continental Divide Trail, another of the three trails which form the Triple Crown of long distance hiking in America. The trails are varied in length some taking you close to the 10 mile (16km) mark. They will take you over some exquisite terrain into meadows and over glacial moraines and offer you the chance to see wildlife. The trails are at very high altitudes – 7000ft (2133m) above sea level - so if you haven’t hiked in such an environment before be prepared to be physically tested.
Silver Falls Park, Oregon
Silver Falls Oregon contains around 25 miles (40km) of hiking the best of which is a moderately difficult hike of nearly 7 miles (11km), which provides a classic canyon walk which will take you under and past 10 of the parks cascading waterfalls. American hikers say this hike epitomizes the splendors of the North West taking you through an aqueous maze abound with mossy caverns and groves of sturdy timber. Don’t take the trail too lightly the moistness of the area means it can be treacherous.
The Pacific Crest Trail
The final trail among the three leviathan American trail routes which make up the Triple Crown. The Pacific Crest Trail spans 2,650 miles (4264km) across the entire Western United States, from Mexico to Canada, and traverses three states. The trails various segments offer hikers extreme diversity in climate and scenery from the harsh beauty of the arid Californian deserts to the frozen expanse of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and beyond into the fertile, volcanic peaks of the North West. Some travelers only take in parts of the PCT’s vast extents while others do the whole trail in a season. However long you intend to hike take plan your journey, certain sections the PCT will not suffer fools.
Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods, Colorado
The name of this incredible park was inspired by the rock formations, resembling formed obstacles from some kind of celestial adventure park. Within the park there is a relatively easy path going 7 mile/11km hike which allows you to bask in the glory of the unearthly surroundings.
The North Country Trail
At 4600 miles (7402km) the NCT is big by American trail standards. In fact it’s the largest in the United States, stretching from the Missouri River in North Dakota to the shores of Lake Champlain in New York. In national trail terms the NCT is still only young, being officially designated in 1980. The trail was put together and is maintained by an army of around 800 volunteers and for this among many reasons had to make our list. Stretching across seven northern states (New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota) the NCT allows patrons to take in views of the great lakes, the great northern plains and the thick Northwoods as they traverse its rugged and captivating expanse.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park encompasses over a million acres protected of alpine forests, meadows and lakes. For hikers the park is a utopia with around 700 miles (1126km) of well maintained trails in which to lose themselves in pursuit of the area's abundant wildlife and incredible views. The icy landscape is covered in a network of trails most of which are perfect for casual walkers. Note that the ease and accessibility of these visually rewarding trails means they are well trod. There are however, a few more challenging routes such as Siyeh Pass which will be quieter and reward more adventurous hikers with stunning vistas. Glacier is also home to a large section of the Continental Divide Trail.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Bryce Canyon has a few superb trails to cover which can very easily be combined to make for a solid day of trekking. The best route combines the Queen's Garden Trail, the Wall Street Trail and the Peek-a-boo Loop to make a 7 mile (11km) trek which is saturated with incredible sights and takes you straight through the parks “hoodoos” - incredible twisted rock formations. The trek is at an altitude of 8000ft (2438m) which will sap even experienced hikers strength and the weather can be extreme so plan accordingly.
Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah
Ancient Hebrew for sanctuary it is clear to why the Mormon settlers of Utah would have mistaken the area now enclosed in Zion National Park as some kind of paradise. Among its many hikes is a route considered to be one of the best in the national parks system: Zion Narrows. Again word count will impact on our ability to this 12-mile (19km) round trip justice but needless to say it deserves its prestigious reputation. An extraordinarily beautiful hike which takes you through a twisting canyon via hanging gardens dotted with ponderosa trees and sandy banks. The hike is made all the more unique by the fact that large portions involve wading or water hiking. Simply marvelous.