USA

Best walks, hikes and treks in USA [View list of walks]

About USA

 

The vastness of the United States, one of the largest countries in the world, makes a summary of its charms an extraordinary challenge. Inhabited by native Americans for thousands of years, and visited by the Vikings as far back as the 10th century, this remains, however, a young nation, forged over the last half millennium through diversity and immigration.

Such recent and disparate origins, with all their inherent insecurity, have bought their own costs: a modern history of ethnic cleansing, slavery and suppression and social inequalities and lack of support for the less fortunate which amaze those in sclerotic Europe. And yet from this modern empire has arisen a fixation with freedom in all its forms, including hundreds of millions of privately-owned guns.

America’s history, its settlement, economic success, and through this its political domination, is inextricably intertwined with its natural resources. Perhaps because of their defining role, the USA began to look to the protection of its natural spaces earlier than any other country – and this has made it a home to some of the most famous and the most outstanding wildernesses in the world.

From the unspoiled mountain backcountry of the northwest to the eerie sandstone formations in the deserts of the southwest, the western-American landscape is fantastic and varied. It is not so surprising that its name in Mandarin – meigno – means “beautiful country”. For something more metropolitan head outwards: on either coast lie some of the world’s most renowned cities, New York and its fabulous Brooklyn Bridge to the east, and the beautiful bay of San Francisco in the west.

So, the USA has things to fascinate everyone, children included. The variety of travel and tours you can make in America is as a result huge.

Walking, hiking and trekking in USA

 

The USA has some of the world’s best walks, hikes and treks, ranging from tough mountain hiking and trekking trails, such as those in the vast Rocky Mountains and the compact Catskill Range, to geological absurdities like the Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, the Chinese Wall, Arches National Park and the various slot canyons to volcanic excitements such as Hawaii, Mount St Helen’s and Crater Lake to historic routes (the Nez Perce National Historic Trail, or the Freedom Trail through Boston) to the charismatic cities of New York and San Francisco.  

Perhaps most famously of all it has wilderness hikes through the great American national parks, with walking routes exploring the geothermal wonders of Yellowstone or the huge views, pristine forests and mirror-like lakes of the Tetons, or the crags, cirques and lakes of the Wind River Mountains.

In long distance walks America has something of a trump card in the heroic Continental Divide Trail.  Stretching down from the Canadian border in the north to the border with Mexico in the south, this epic trail takes in some of the country’s best scenery and toughest hikes. And the grand Appalachian Trail does well on that front, too

So, walking, hiking and trekking tours and holidays in the USA are so varied that everyone’s taste and energy levels can be met. Walking here isn’t just for hard-nuts, although there is plenty to get their juices flowing. The lazy and youngsters alike will be enthralled by what it offers:  American walking, trekking and hiking holidays and tours really can be for everyone.

See the list below for a (currently incomplete – please give us your recommendations!) list of the best walks, treks and hikes in the USA.  Various of these are in our world’s Top 100 list.

Famous walking regions include:

-        The Grand Canyon, Paria and Buckskin, the Wave, Canyonlands, Zion and Arches NP: beautiful, naturally carved sandstone shapes, slot canyons and weirdly wonderful desert

-        Yosemite, King’s Canyon, Mount Whitney and the long distance John Muir Trail that links them together: outstandingly scenic Californian landscape

-        Yellowstone NP, the Tetons and the Wind River Mountains: an illustrious, charismatic landscape of geothermal wonders and stunning views

-        Glacier NP: stunning mountainous landscape of rapidly disappearing glaciers on the Canadian border

-        Bob Marshall Wilderness and the Bitterroot Mountains: a mountainous countryside coated in thick forest and alpine meadows, and cut through by the imposing Chinese Wall

-        Shenandoah, the Catskills and the Great Smoky Mountains NP: lush green forests and cascading waterfalls in the eastern mountains of the USA

-        Volcanic Hawaii: the craters of Kilauea volcano, barren Haleakala NP, and the stunning coastal views of the Kalalau Trail

-        Alaska: the harsh, icy landscapes of the Kenai Peninsula and McGonagall Pass

We intend that our walk pages contain detail and photos on walking, hiking or trekking routes, including books, best times and weather, how to get there, possible problems, walking, trekking and hiking firms, organisers and guides in USA, accommodation in USA and useful links. But this takes a lot of research, so if they are not "there" yet, please give us any suggestions you may have.

Southern California Coast, Malibu to the Tijuana River, 188 miles
Point Dume - © Tyler E. Burgess Mount Washburn
Mount Washburn - View From Mount Washburn© By Flickr User Listen Missy! The High Divide Loop
High Divide Overlook  - © daveynin flickr user

Best walks, hikes and treks in USA

You can sort the walks by category by clicking on the category titles.

(The rating of walks marked * is currently provisional.)

Region Walk Name Walkopedia Rating Difficulty Day Walk
Possible?

  Continental Divide Trail
82*
Variable Yes
 Alaska Kenai Peninsula
77*
Difficult Yes
 Alaska McGonagall Pass
80*
Difficult No
 Alaska/Yukon Chilkoot Trail
87*
Difficult No
 California Californian Redwoods
84*
Variable Yes
 California John Muir Trail
86*
Strenuous No
 California Mount Whitney
76*
Strenuous Yes
 California Pacific Crest Trail
85*
Very Difficult Yes
 California San Francisco Bay Trail
0*
Variable Yes
 California Tahoe Rim Trail
80*
Yes
 California Yosemite National Park
86*
Variable Yes
 Eastern Appalachian Trail
78*
Variable Yes
 Eastern Gettysburg
82*
Straightforward Yes
 Eastern Stony Man Trail, Shenandoah NP
75*
Variable Yes
 Hawaii Haleakala National Park
0*
Variable Yes
 Hawaii Kalalau Trail, Kauai
81*
Strenuous Yes
 Hawaii Mt Kilauea
83*
Strenuous Yes
 Midwest Black Hills and Grasslands, South Dakota
86*
Yes
 Midwest Matthiessen State Park
77*
Variable Yes
 Midwest Superior Hiking Trail
77*
Variable Yes
 Northeast Breakneck Ridge Trail
80*
Strenuous Yes
 Northeast Brooklyn Bridge, New York
82
Yes
 Northeast Finger Lakes Trail
0*
Variable Yes
 Northeast Freedom Trail, Boston
0*
Straightforward Yes
 Northeast Long Trail, Vermont
77*
Strenuous No
 Northeast The Devil's Path, Catskill Mountains
79*
Strenuous Yes
 Northwest Crater Lake
87
Variable Yes
 Northwest Enchantment Lakes
79*
Variable No
 Northwest Icicle Ridge
81*
Yes
 Northwest Mt Rainier
82*
Variable Yes
 Northwest Mt St Helens
86
Variable Yes
 Northwest Sawtooth Mountains/Traverse
82.5*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Bogachiel River Valley
80*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Hoh River Trail
80*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Lake Crescent Area
74*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Olympic Discovery Trail
81*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Olympic National Park
80*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Olympic NP - North Wilderness Coast
80*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Queets River Valley
78*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Quinault River Valley
78*
Moderate Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Second Beach
80*
Moderate Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Shipwreck Coast
85*
Moderate Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP Sol Duc River Valley
80*
Variable Yes
 Northwest/Olympic NP The High Divide Loop
81*
Variable No
 South Freedom Marches
0*
Variable Yes
 South Mount le Conte
78*
Moderate No
 South: Great Smoky Mountains NP Great Smoky Mountains National Park
78*
Variable Yes
 Southwest Arches National Park
85*
Strenuous Yes
 Southwest Buckskin Gulch
86*
Strenuous Yes
 Southwest Canyon de Chelly
84
Moderate Yes
 Southwest Monument Valley, Utah
85*
Moderate Yes
 Southwest Paria Canyon
87*
Strenuous No
 Southwest Paria/Buckskin
87*
Strenuous Yes
 Southwest Sedona
77
Yes
 Southwest The Wave
83*
Moderate Yes
 Southwest: Bryce Canyon Bryce Canyon
86*
Variable Yes
 Southwest:Bryce Canyon Fairyland Loop
86*
Moderate Yes
 Southwest:Bryce Canyon Peekaboo Trail
86*
Moderate Yes
 SW: Canyonlands NP Canyonlands National Park
88*
Variable Yes
 SW: Canyonlands NP Chesler Park
88*
Moderate Yes
 SW: Canyonlands NP Salt Creek
86*
Strenuous No
 SW: Canyonlands NP Syncline Loop
79*
Strenuous Yes
 SW: Canyonlands NP White Rim Trail
85*
Strenuous Yes
 SW: Grand Canyon Grand Canyon
93
Variable Yes
 SW: Grand Canyon Havasu Canyon
85*
Variable Yes
 SW: Grand Canyon Kaibab and Bright Angel Trails
93*
Variable Yes
 SW: Grand Canyon Thunder River / Deer Creek Trail
90*
Variable No
 SW: Grand Canyon Tonto Trail
88*
Variable Yes
 SW: Zion Angel's Landing
84*
Strenuous Yes
 SW: Zion Zion Narrows
87*
Strenuous Yes
 SW: Zion Zion National Park
87*
Variable Yes
 Texas Kennedy Assassination Site, Dallas
65*
Straightforward Yes
 Western Lewis and Clark National Trail
84*
Variable Yes
 Western Maroon Bells, Colorado
84*
Variable Yes
 Western Mounts Elbert and Massive
0*
Variable Yes
 Western/Rocky Mountain NP Bear Lake to Fern Lake
88*
Strenuous Yes
 Western/Rocky Mountain NP Glacier Gorge
83*
Strenuous Yes
 Western/Rocky Mountain NP Longs Peak
85*
Strenuous Yes
 Western/Rocky Mountain NP Odessa Lake
88*
Strenuous No
 Western/Rocky Mountain NP Rocky Mountain NP
87*
Variable Yes
 Western: Bitterroot Mts Bitterroot Mountains
82
Variable Yes
 Western: Bitterroot Mts Trapper Peak
82*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Bob Marshall Wilderness Bob Marshall Wilderness
82*
Variable Yes
 Western: Bob Marshall Wilderness Chinese Wall
82*
Strenuous No
 Western: Bob Marshall Wilderness Upper Holland Loop
82*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Glacier NP Glacier National Park
84*
Variable Yes
 Western: Glacier NP Grinnell Glacier Trail
84*
Straightforward Yes
 Western: Glacier NP Iceberg Lake Trail
85*
Moderate Yes
 Western: Glacier NP North Circle
87*
Strenuous No
 Western: Grand Teton NP Garnet Canyon
82*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Grand Teton NP Grand Teton Loop
88
Strenuous No
 Western: Grand Teton NP Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
88*
Variable Yes
 Western: Grand Teton NP Jenny Lake to Cascade Canyon
85*
Moderate Yes
 Western: Grand Teton NP Paintbrush/Cascade Loop
83*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Grand Teton NP Teton Crest Trail
88*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Grand Teton NP Two Ocean Trail/Emma Matilda Lake
82*
Moderate Yes
 Western: Wind River Mts Cirque of the Towers
87*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Wind River Mts Deep Lake Cirque
85.5*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Wind River Mts Highline Trail
86.5*
Strenuous No
 Western: Wind River Mts Titcomb Basin
89*
Strenuous Yes
 Western: Wind River Mts Wind River Mountains
88*
Variable Yes
 Western: Yellowstone NP Bechler River and Canyon
82*
Variable Yes
 Western: Yellowstone NP Black Canyon Trail
84*
Moderate Yes
 Western: Yellowstone NP Geyser Area Trails
80*
Variable Yes
 Western: Yellowstone NP Mount Washburn
83*
Moderate Yes
 Western: Yellowstone NP The Thorofare Trail
77*
Moderate No
 Western: Yellowstone NP Uncle Tom's Trail
78*
Straightforward Yes
 Western: Yellowstone NP Yellowstone NP, Wyoming
84*
Variable Yes


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