By Julie Chickery
National Trails Day is June 5th and what better way to celebrate than to find a trail near you and go for a hike! One of the best things about RV travel is the ability to roam the country and seek out all the best sights. And there’s no better way to truly experience each location than to get off the beaten path and explore the trails. In this article, I share the top 10 best hiking trails in the U.S.
These hikes are generally easy, but I’ve included a few challenging treks as well. Be sure to know your limitations and don’t overdo it. Every location on this list has a variety of hikes for all skill levels. While you’re on the trail, be sure to follow our important safety tips.
Hidden Lake Trail at Glacier National Park
If you’re looking for the best hiking trails, Glacier National Park is a must-see. Hidden Lake stands out as a true gem. This 5.3-mile hike is rated as moderate because of the steady climb culminating in a total of 1,374’ of elevation gain. Stunning views abound in all directions. At the beginning of the hike, you’ll see Clements Mountain right in front of you. To the northwest is Mount Oberlin. Coming up to the top of the pass you’ll be rewarded with views of Mount Reynolds and Heavy Runner Mountain to your left. At just under a mile-and-a-half, you’ll arrive at the Hidden Lake Overlook, where you’ll enjoy outstanding panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. At this point, you could turn around to shorten the hike or descend to the glacially carved lake.
Boy Scout Trail at Jedediah Smith Redwoods Park
This is a wonderful 5.5-mile easy trek through a pristine, old-growth forest of massive redwood trees. One of the great things about this trail is that the largest concentration of the old redwoods are closest to the start of the hike. So if you aren’t feeling up to the longer hike, you can turn around at any point. Another reason it landed on our best hiking trails list is the drive in. The trailhead is located on Howland Hill Road, a dirt road that meanders its way around giant redwood trees. The drive is as beautiful as the hike itself.
Bridalveil Fall at Yosemite National Park
Bridalveil Fall is an unforgettable hike in an iconic park. With so many great hikes to choose from in Yosemite, this was a tough one. However, Bridalveil Fall checks all the boxes for grandeur while remaining easy enough for the average day hiker. Only 1.2 miles in duration, but guaranteed to create lasting memories! It’s an easy trek, but be ready for some slippery sections in the spring when the spray soaks the path. You’ll also have to be prepared for crowds unless you get a very early start. The video below gives you an idea of what to expect.
Devil’s Bridge Trail at Coconino National Forest
Coconino National Forest in Sedona is known for having some of the best hikes in the U.S. This 3.9-mile hike will lead you to one of the most photographed natural bridges in the nation. Along the way, you’ll be wowed by breathtaking views of Red Rock country. Be aware that to reach Devil’s Bridge, you’ll have one steep section just before you arrive.
Angel’s Landing Trail at Zion National Park
Angel’s Landing is a bucket-list hike for the adventurous. This 5.4-mile hike has steep switchbacks and sheer drop-offs. That’s means if you have a fear of heights, you might want to skip it and stop for the unforgettable view at Scout Lookout. If you choose to venture on, there are chains bolted into the cliff to provide secure handholds on the final stretch. A word of advice: Go in the shoulder season when it isn’t too busy. That narrow portion can get pretty treacherous with crowds.
Perkin’s Central Garden Trail at Garden of the Gods
A visit to Colorado Springs wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Garden of the Gods. Perkin’s Central Garden is a short, flat trail to give you a taste of what Garden of the Gods has to offer. Explore this accessible paved path and enjoy closeup views of the rock formations. If you like what you see, there is a scenic drive with access to more than 20 miles of trails.
Lost Mine Trail at Big Bend National Park
You’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the Chisos Mountains if you are up for the steep climb to the top. The route passes through beautiful scenery and vantage points to catch your breath. The hike ends at a dramatic rocky ridge at 6,850 feet. There’s plenty of room to enjoy the 360-degree views before you begin your descent back to the trailhead.
Dunes Climb Trail at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
If you are looking for a leg workout among your best hiking trails, try the 3.5-mile Dunes Climb Trail. The trail is all sand and has plenty of hills and valleys along the way where you’ll experience vistas of Lake Michigan and Manitou Islands. If you stay the course, you’ll emerge on the shore of Lake Michigan where you can relax and get rejuvenated for the return trip.
Cadillac South Ridge Trail at Acadia National Park
You can always drive to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and enjoy the views from the highest peak on Mount Desert Island in Acadia National Park. On the other hand, if you’re up for a challenge, you can take one of the longer hikes up to the top. One of the best hiking trails in Acadia National Park is the 7-mile Cadillac South Ridge Trail. It’s a 1,350’ steady ascent to the summit with phenomenal views all along the way.
White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run Trail Loop at Shenandoah National Park
This hike is consistently rated as one of the best hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park for one reason: waterfalls! It’s a challenge at 9 miles and 2,372’ of elevation gain, but the reward is water, water everywhere. The best way to start is up Cedar Run, where you’ll climb steadily until reaching scenic Skyline Drive. You’ll have several water crossings and waterfall sightings both coming up Cedar Run and down White Oak Canyon. If you want a shorter option, you can hike the 3.5 miles out and back on Lower White Oak Canyon trail.
Want more trails?
If you’re looking for additional trails or want to create a combination with other existing trails, I recommend using the AllTrails App. In the video below, you’ll see how to find great hiking trails, assess those trails to make sure they are within your hiking capability, and navigate while on the trail to ensure you don’t get lost. You’ll also learn how to create custom hiking maps in the AllTrails Pro version.