Oh, America. Sweet land of liberty…and nature! Though less often talked about, the wildly diverse landscapes of the United States have so much to offer: rainforests and deserts, mountains and lakes, plus epic coastlines on either side. And all throughout it, no less than 100,000 hikes.
That makes creating a list of the top few hikes nearly impossible. But, since we live in a hustling, bustling world, few have time to trek them all. So while picking just three is tough, it must be done! Here are the top three picks for our different hiker types.
1. Lost Coast Trail, California
Despite the state’s 40+ million inhabitants, the Lost Coast remains almost completely remote – connecting smooth, sandy beaches to raggedly beautiful cliffs with lush forests perched on top. It’s 24.6 miles (39.6 km) long, and takes 3-4 days to trek. Head there in the fall for the best weather.
2. Cracker Lake, Montana (Glacier National Park)
In this well-known national park, so many trails run through it that you can choose a route anywhere from 5-16 miles and 1-2 days. Its slot canyon path shows off 18 million years of eroded rock walls. Much of the hiking is done along the riverbed, which runs from one canyon wall to another.
3. Kesugi Ridge Trail, Alaska (Denali National Park)
This 2-3 day hike is 36.2 miles (58.3 km) long, and packed with opportunities for adventure. It includes several steep climbs and boulder fields to cross – but the views are unbeatable and unforgettable.
4. Red River Gorge Loop, Kentucky
At 36 miles (57.9 km) long, The Red River Gorge loop takes about 2-3 days to cross full – and every step is an amazing chance to take in a variety of scenery, including diversely colored trees, that are especially magical in the fall. It’s also famous for its rock climbing opportunities. You can opt for the full hike, or escape down one of its many side trails to shorten the duration while still catching the epic backcountry views.