Dust off your hiking boots and grab your backpack for this roundup of top hiking spots in the US. From family-friendly, scenic trails to exhilarating climbs, read on to uncover top hiking trips you can take, no matter the season.
ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, ME
Acadia National park is both the most-visited national park in the Northeast and home to the highest peak along the North Atlantic. Acadia is one of the best hiking destinations in the US. Make the drive to take in stunning views from the 1,500-foot tall peak, or challenge yourself to hikes like the Gotham Mountain Trail.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MT
Montana may be landlocked, but a visit to Glacier National Park is all about the water. Hike to pristine alpine lakes, drive past waterfalls, or take a white-water rafting trip down the Flathead River. The Grinnell Glacier stands as a challenge over the park, but its rewarding views are unbeatable—be sure to bring plenty of food and water if you do the 8-mile trail on your own.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CA
In Yosemite, steep cliffs tower above the trees and host breathtaking waterfalls. Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan stand out as the park’s most recognized natural sites.
Though so much wilderness makes Yosemite one of the best hiking vacations you can take, the park is also a hit among photographers.
BIG SUR, CA
Rocky coastlines give way to crashing waves in Big Sur, a hiking destination along the California coast. Big Sur is easy enough to fit in during a California road trip, the area is right off Highway 1, but Big Sur’s incredible natural beauty merits its own visit. Take a hike through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or at the Point Sur State Historic Park for gorgeous views of the cliffs and waterfalls dropping straight into the ocean.
GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS, TN/NC
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the best hiking trips for their rolling hills and scenic trails. Hike up Mount LeConte to see the Smokies stretching endlessly into the horizon, or check out the popular Alum Cave Trail, which leads you past rushing rivers and through fields of wildflowers. Though well-marked trails make it easy enough to explore on your own, go with a guide to make the most of every moment.
ZION NATIONAL PARK, UT
Zion National Park is easily one of the most-recognized hiking destinations in the US, known for its red rocks smoothly carved out by water. Bring your best self to the trails at The Narrows, named for the tight squeezes needed to get through river-bound rocks. Once through, you will be rewarded by a number of viewpoints around the park that will surely take your breath away.
BLUE RIDGE, GA
The town of Blue Ridge is full of historic Southern charm. Ride down old trestles on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, stroll through the boutique-filled downtown, or bring the whole family for a day of outdoor fun at the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge or Long Creek Falls.
Plus, because it’s nestled in the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town is an ideal home base for a mountain retreat.
ESTES PARK, CO
Estes Park is the Rocky Mountains vacation destination of your dreams and known as the Gateway to the Rockies. Between its homey downtown and easy access to some of the best hiking trips in Colorado, Estes Park is a top stop for serious backpackers and casual hikers alike. Experienced hikers can use Estes as a basecamp for longer hikes into the Rocky Mountains, while nature-lovers of all hiking levels love the easy Adams Falls Trail and the hike to Lily Lake.
BIG BEAR LAKE, CA
Big Bear Lake may be small, but it packs in plenty of outdoor activities. This lakeside retreat in southern California is best known for its winter skiing, but also offers a number of hiking trails like Castle Rock Trail that are perfect for exploring in the summer. The area also features the popular Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which rehabs native animals and offers visitors a great chance to learn about local wildlife, including the lake’s namesake creatures.
COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE, OR
In addition to being one of the best hiking destinations in the US, Columbia River Gorge is one of the most popular and scenic day trips from Portland. Take a half-day tour from Portland to the Multnomah Falls—a wine-tasting and waterfalls tour is also an option, or spend the afternoon wandering the trails and taking scenic drives on your own.
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA
Clear waters surrounded by snow-topped peaks make South Lake Tahoe a popular vacation destination. Though hiking Mt. Tallac Trail or to Lower Eagle Falls are good options, the area is also well-known for its water sports and other activities.
JACKSON HOLE, WY (GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK)
Jackson Hole is a skiing paradise in the winter, but has hikes to waterfalls, crater lakes, and woodland wonderlands during warmer months. From the family-friendly Cascade Canyon Trail to the heart-thumping Static Peak Divide, Grand Teton National Park is by far one of the best hiking vacations you can take.
JAY, VT (JAY PEAK)
A high-end ski resort turns summertime bucket-list destination in Jay, a cozy city with family-friendly amenities and plenty to keep kids entertained, including the popular Jay Peak Pump House. The town’s best hike is to its namesake summit, Jay Peak, a 3-mile trail past wildflowers, boulders, and pastures.
The Adirondacks have great hiking, but they offer a whole lot more: go white-water rafting, learn about conservation at the kid-friendly Wild Center, or make some waves on glassy Lake Placid. Be sure to get to Bald Mountain, too, for an easy hike for the whole family.