The USA is full of spectacular natural landscapes - from dusty plains and russet canyons to waterfall-peppered woodlands. Whether you're looking for a day of hiking in the countryside or an epic trek, there’s a dramatic hiking trail to suit you. Here’s our list of some of the best hiking trails in the USA - all top travel destinations to feature on your instagram feed.
The Appalachian Trail to Mount Rogers in Virginia
The Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, which runs between Maine and Georgia. The trail is almost 2,190 miles long and passes through 14 states, eight different national forests, six national park units and numerous state parks, forests, and game lands. There are plenty of places to get started on the trail, and there are marked out walks for a day trip - to walk the whole thing would take 5-7 months. Highlights include Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia
at 5,729 feet and McAfee Knob, a rocky platform that sticks out from a tilted mountain. It’s the most photographed site along the Appalachian Trail and offers sensational views over the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Wonderful waterfalls in Ithaca, New York State
It’s easy to get immersed in beautiful fresh green landscapes, when you're based in Ithaca, in New York State
. The area is known for its waterfalls
, gorges and beautiful woodlands. There are four pristine State Parks packed with trails
for hiking, biking and running, within five miles of Downtown Ithaca
. Try Taughannock Falls State Park which has an easy route along the Taughannock Creek to the base of the falls, and some more challenging routes along the North and South Rim Trail.
Cunningham Falls Nature Trail, Thurmont, Maryland
This short but rewarding 2.8-mile loop offered by the Cunningham Falls Nature Trail in Catoctin Mountain Park near Thurmont in Maryland
, gives a spectacular view of the 78-foot cascading high falls. Other trails in the park lead to the popular destinations of Wolf Rock and Chimney Rock.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
The state of Utah
is full of otherworldly landscapes that you can hike through including russet, lunar canyons full of sculpted rocky towers. It’s easy to visit some of the best hikes in a day trip. Try the 9.6-mile The Narrows in Zion National Park and the 8-mile Fairyland Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. It’s also a 3-mile route to Delicate Arch, Arches National Park. Head for this iconic arch, which is pictured on Utah state license plates, or take a more challenging hike to Tower Arch. The most difficult hike is the 7.2-mile Devils Garden Primitive Loop.
Challenging hiking in Colorado
Looking for a challenge? Head to Colorado
for some seriously dramatic hikes. Climb 224 stairs next to the seven cascading waterfalls of The Broadmoor Seven Falls
to make it to the top of two trailheads. The Trail to Inspiration Point is about an hour roundtrip and the Trail to Midnight Falls is 30 minutes Roundtrip. Meanwhile there are 2,744 stairs up the wooden ‘rails’ on the Manitou Springs Incline
, a former cable car railway turned intense hiking trail to the stunning trail summit. Take it and you'll gain 609 metres in elevation in less than 1,609 meters. It’s one of the most challenging in the state of Colorado.
Great Allegheny Passage, Maryland and Pennsylvania
Looking for an epic trip? Head for the new Great American Rail-Trail, a cross-country, car-free route that will largely follow more than 125 existing rail-trails (former railway lines across the United States) as well as greenways and other multi-use pathways. The trail will eventually run for more than 3,700 miles from Washington, D.C.
to the west coast creating the first contiguous multi-use pathway across the United States, fully accessible on foot and by bike. You can experience it on the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage
(GAP) running between Cumberland, Maryland and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Allegany County.
Sherwin Lake, Mammoth Lakes
Fancy a walk along alpine lakes or under a thick forest canopy or along level trails? Head to Mammoth Lakes
and hike the Sherwin Lake loop. Head off on this 5-mile trail, for sweeping valley views and the chance to take a dip in the clear lakes.
Hike to Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Explore a sort of best-of of Yosemite National Park
on a hike. Hike up the iconic Half Dome at this Californian national park, or try some of the park's lesser-known trails, like Eagle Peak and Mirror Lake, to discover the iconic park’s inspiring vistas, granite icons, hundreds of lakes, sweeping meadows and breathtaking waterfalls.
Spectacular summit in Mount Washington, New Hampshire
You’ll enjoy incredible views from Mount Washington in New Hampshire
, the highest peak in the Northeast. On a good day when the air is dry and the view is clear, you can see the landscape for up to 130 miles away, to Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean. Heading to this unique spot is not for the inexperienced, though, as the weather here is changeable and extreme, making it one of most dangerous places to hike in America, with record breaking winds of up to 230mph. In winter, the summit is blasted by sub-zero temperatures, hurricane-force winds, blizzards and ice. Mount Washington’s winter conditions can sometimes rival those of Mount Everest and the Polar regions.