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10 Great US Hiking Trails

 It’s difficult to say exactly why hiking is such a popular pastime in the US. It could be the accessibility; there are hundreds of major trails across the country. It could also be that getting started is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other. Or maybe it’s the fact that you get to witness the beauty and diversity of nature. Whatever it is that drives people to head out on the trail, we do know one thing – hiking is extremely popular. Below are 10 of the best hiking trails that you can find in the US.  
 
1. Mt. Washington, New Hampshire. Best Season – July to October
Best Hiking Trails in the US

The tallest peak in the Northeast is no joke, but there are a number of ways up Mt. Washington for hikers of all abilities – and even a road and cog railway for those who wish to ride up and down. At 6,288 feet, the summit’s Mt. Washington Observatory holds the world record for the highest wind speed ever recorded in non-tropical conditions – 231 mph.

The 7.1 loop trail to the summit, via Tuckerman’s Ravine Trail, is steep, but the hard work is worth it thanks to the stunning views at the top. Alternatively, you can take the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail from the west side of the mountain – it’s a little longer but has a gentler incline. The hike can be done in a single day, with a stop at the peak for lunch at the café.

2. Walls of Jericho Trail, Alabama. Best Season: March to October
Best Hiking Trails in the US

This 6 mile out and back trail located near Hytop, Alabama, features a waterfall and many caves and footbridges. The start of the hike takes you 1,000 feet to the canyon floor, where rocks form a natural amphitheater around a pool fed by numerous waterfalls and streams.

During the wet season, the trails can be treacherous, so it’s best to avoid if there’s been recent rainfall. Just upstream from the amphitheater is a camping area for those who wish to extend their stay.

3. Whiteface Mountain, New York. Best Season: May-October
Best Hiking Trails in the US
The site of the alpine skiing at the 1980 Winter Olympics, 4,865-foot Whiteface Mountain has three routes of varying lengths to its summit: 3.9 miles, 5.7 miles, and 6 miles. The summit boasts 360-degree views of surrounding New York and Vermont countryside, making this an excellent location for those who wish to see fall colors on the trees. On very clear days, hikers can even see the distant skyscrapers of Montreal, Canada.
4. Clifty Falls State Park Loop Trail, Indiana. Best Season: May to October
Best Hiking Trails in the US

Three centuries ago, Clifty Creek carved out a spectacular canyon through the land near the Indiana-Kentucky border – the area which is now Clifty Falls State Park. The 5.7-mile trail follows the gorge, taking hikers past waterfalls of varying sizes. In the spring, the falls are at their strongest as melting snow increases the volume of water.

From May to October, hikers can walk, with the aid of a flashlight, through a 600-foot railroad tunnel – the rest of the year, the tunnel is closed to protect hibernating bats.

5. Chapel Trail Mosquito Falls, Michigan. Best Season: March to November
Best Hiking Trails in the US
This 9.7-mile loop on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula passes a number of beautiful landmarks, including 60-foot-tall Chapel Falls. Watch your step though as parts of the trail are very high and close to the edge of limestone cliffs.
 
6. The Narrows Trail, Utah. Best Season: April to July
Best Hiking Trails in the US

If you don’t mind getting wet, the famous Zion National Park trail is for you. The first mile of this trail is a paced riverside walk from the Temple of Sinawa. From there, the rest of the hike is in ankle-deep to mid-thigh deep water. The canyon varies in width as hikers move upstream for up to 16 miles.

For a trail highlight, hike the additional 1.5 miles from the end of the riverside walk to reach “Wall Street,” where the 2,000-foot vertical walls are a mere 20-30 feet apart.

7. Stratton Mountain, Vermont. Best Season: May to October
Best Hiking Trails in the US
Stratton is a very popular northeast ski resort, but when the snow melts the mountain turns into a hiker’s paradise. The 3,900-foot peak is crossed by two famous hiking trails – the Long Trail and the Appalachian Trail. At the peak, hikers can climb a fire tower that provides 36-degree views of the surrounding area.
8. Lost Valley Trail, Arkansas. Best Season: March to October
Best Hiking Trails in the US
Winding past a number of swimming holes and a scenic waterfall, the Lost Valley Trail is a short but stunning hike into Buffalo National River Park. This hike is great for outdoor enthusiast of all ages, as the climbs are really easy and there’s a lot to see. Bring a flashlight along so that you can explore Cobb Cave at the end of the trail.
9. Half Dome, California. Best Season: April to October
Best Hiking Trails in the US
This 14-16 mile round hike takes you to the top of Yosemite’s famous granite dome. Rising nearly 5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8.880 feet above sea level, hikers are rewarded with stunning views of Nevada Falls and the Yosemite Valley. The most famous part of the Half Dome hike is the last 400 feet – hikers must climb up a final steep ascent using cables anchored into the rock face.
10. Pu’u Huluhulu Trail, Hawaii. Best Season: April to October
Best Hiking Trails in the US

This 2.5 mile trail is a tour of the 1969-74 Mauna Ulu lava flow, and it offers stunning views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa from the Pu’u Huluhulu cone. The trail is dotted with lava trees, which were left behind when lava surrounded living trees and burned the wood away, leaving vertical columns when they cooled down.

Hikers that tackle this trail after dark are treated to views of lava erupting from the nearby Pu’u O’o vent.

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Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 

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