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The United States has so much to offer hikers and outdoor enthusiasts alike; huge mountain ranges, dense forests, and vast open canyons make the country a sort of all-you-can-hike buffet.
With so many great locations for hiking, it’s hard to narrow down the best ones, especially since everyone’s taste and skill level will differ. For this list, we’ve compiled some of the country’s popular hiking locations that vary in difficulty but are each scenic in their own way.
Yellowstone National Park
With over 900 miles of hiking trails, Yellowstone National Park should be on every hiker’s bucket list. Hikers can expect to see beautiful springs at Mammoth Hot Springs, scenic lakes at the park’s West Thumb area, and of course Old Faithful. Yellowstone is covered in snow for most of the year, and some mountain areas have snow late into the summer. The park is also a nature lover’s paradise filled with bears, bobcats, coyotes, American bison, and a variety of fish that attract fishermen from all over the country.
Hoh Rainforest (Washington)
Rain is beautiful. Seriously, the way it transforms a forest and its inhabitants is a true testament to its power. The Hoh Rainforest, in Olympia National Park, gives visitors more than a glimpse of this transformation. Temperate rainforests are few in the United States but walks through lush forest floors and challenging ascents that leave to breathtaking views of Mount Olympus give hikers some of the best experiences this country has to offer.
Roan Mountain (Tennessee)
Located along the border of Tennessee and North Carolina, this series of ridgetops is dotted with purple rhododendrons and bright green balds in the late spring through summer season. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, hikers can expect treks across that, while not extremely difficult, provide chance encounters with weasels, owls, black bears, and bobcats.
Little Talbot Island (Florida)
When most people think of hiking, their brains conjure images of cascading mountains and vast desert canyons. Tropical coasts don’t necessarily come to mind, but Florida’s sandy beaches and a rich brush that creeps into the interior makes hiking, the Sunshine State’s hidden gem. `
Running along California’s south-central coast, Big Sur gives hikers a relatively easy journey with views of the Pacific coastline that can’t be beat. Redwood forests and streams seem to appear out of nowhere from the low-lying beaches that can give you a rare look at whales in their natural habitat. Visitors can also check out McWay Falls, which empties right out into the Pacific from the rocky coast.
The Grand Canyon (Arizona)
Few places emit more sense of grandeur and magnificence than The Grand Canyon. Stretching 277 miles and running though several National Parks, the Canyon has been a tourist destination for almost a century now. The most difficult hiking trail, the South Kaibab Trail, brings hikers all the way to the bottom of the canyon. Hiking the Grand Canyon’s Kaibab trail in the summer is not recommended for beginners though, and hikers should always remain hydrated no matter which season they visit.
This list is just a small glimpse of what this country’s various parks and preserves have to offer hikers looking for exciting new outdoor journeys. By doing a little research you may find that there’s hiking spots in or around your home that you’ve never been to. The most important part of any hike is safety, so wherever you decide to go make sure you’re prepared.
Now get out there and see the world!
By David Vasquez