For some, the ideal vacation is reclining in a beach chair with a cold margarita. But for others, it’s strapping on some boots and a pack and walking until their thighs burn.
If you’re in the latter camp, then boy, do we have a list for you.
We’ve compiled a collection of the best hikes for you to choose from this summer. And there’s something here for everyone, whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge or prefer a less-intense trek.
You had to know this one was coming. I mean, come on, it’s the friggin’ Appalachian Trail, the most iconic hike in the whole country.
Now, you probably don’t have time to traverse the whole thing. After all, it’s 2,190-miles long in its entirety, and runs through 14 states. But that’s actually part of what makes it so accessible.
You can hop on the trail anywhere, then hop off when you’ve had your fill, whether that’s after 5 miles or five hundred.
Teton Crest Trail, Grant Teton National Park, Wyoming
Equal parts stunning and challenging, Teton Crest Trail is a worthy addition to any hiker’s bucket list.
Depending on the route, you’ll cover 35 to 45 miles during your journey. Much of it is spent at over 8,000 feet of elevation, where you’ll have a superlative view of everything the region has to offer: towering peaks, vast forests, and shimmering lakes.
There’s also plenty of wildlife in the area, from moose and bison to bears, both black and grizzly.
Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Maine is absolutely beautiful in the summer.
So, why not take advantage with a hike through the state’s most famous national park?
The Beehive Trail is a little different than what you might be used to, as parts of this 1.4 mile climb include climbing rock faces using steel rungs and navigating narrow ledges. But the view from the top is totally worth it.
Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
There’s lots to see in Glacier National Park and a variety of trails to choose from. But at the end of the day, it’d be a shame to miss out on the park’s namesake. You know, the glaciers.
Not only will the Grinnell Glacier Trail take you to foot of one of the park’s most famous glaciers, you’ll first travel through forests, past lakes, and maybe even encounter some of the abundant local wildlife.
After the 10 mile trek, you’re sure to enjoy your rest. Because Glacier National Park also has some of the best summer camping.
Burroughs Mountain Trail, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
If you want the best view of Mount Rainier, you’re going to have to earn it.
There are three legs or peaks to the Burroughs Mountain Trail, referred to as First, Second, and Third Burroughs. As you hike further, you get higher – and closer to Mount Rainier.
If you make it to the end, you’ll be standing at over 7,800 feet, the highest trail-accessible point in the whole park. But there’s no shame in stopping at one of the earlier peaks, if that’s all you can handle – or have time for.
Kalalau Trail, Hāʻena State Park, Hawaii
The best hikes take you to someplace like paradise – and then totally kick your butt.
Kalalau Trail may just be the best example. It runs for 11 miles along the Hawaii coastline (yes, that’s one way) and ends at Kalalau Beach. In fact, the trail is the only way to reach this beach, by land at least.
However, the trail itself is brutal. Not only is it long, it’s steep, it’s narrow, it’s rocky, and there are multiple stream crossings. Rainstorms can make all of this worse.
But hey, if you wanted the typical Hawaii vacation, you would’ve stayed at the resort.
Yosemite Falls Trail, Yosemite National Park, California
At 2,425 feet, Yosemite Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in all of North America.
And these trails take you up close. There’s the Upper Falls Trail, which is 7.2 miles and takes you all the way to the top of the falls, so you can even see the river that feeds them.
But if you’d prefer something a little less strenuous, the Lower Falls Trail is only two miles and will still give you an incredible view.
Sol Duc Falls Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
There are multiple different ecosystems within Olympic National Park, including beaches, forests, and mountains.
And there are trails that explore them all. That being said, we’re partial to the lush rainforests of the Pacific Northwest, and Sol Duc Falls Trail is an amazing – and easy – way to experience them.
The trail is only 1.6 miles round trip, with very manageable terrain, making it a great choice for newbie hikers or families.
Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
This 5.5-mile trek will take you through the Tennessee woods, under Arch Rock, around Alum Cave Bluff, and up to the peak of Mount LeConte, the park’s third-highest peak at 6,593 feet.
There’s a beautiful lodge there, built in the 1920s. It’s the highest lodge of its kind in the eastern US and only accessible by trail.
You can stay the night if you have reservations, or just grab a snack before the hike back down.
Glacier Gorge Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
We’re headed back to the Rockies!
There are tons of hiking opportunities among the country’s most famous mountain range. Grand Teton is one of them. But the Colorado section of the mountain is a different – but equally exciting – experience.
The Glacier Gorge Trail has several legs, but the Loch Vale and Sky Pond stretch is the most popular. “The Loch” is a great place to take a break – and some pictures. But if you’ve still got the energy, you can add another couple miles to your hike (for a total of 8.5 miles) by trekking on to Sky Pond.
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