Hiking is extremely popular in America. Whether an easy one day trek is more to someone’s liking or they prefer the challenges of a rugged terrain, millions of us do it. Heck, even a few hours will give beginners or casual hikers a chance to unplug and get back to nature.
It isn’t expensive and no classes are necessary. Whether someone is a beginner, a novice or an expert, one thing is for absolute certain. The United States is packed full of wonderful and scenic trails for people at all levels.
It’s easy to get started. Make sure you’re at least wearing the right type of footwear, find a place and start walking. Once hiking gets under a person’s skin and they start thirsting for more difficult routes, they may choose to spend a few days or more in the wild which will require additional equipment and packing in supplies.
Every state in the country has great hiking trails. Whatever your experience level, all you have to do is figure out which one(s) you want to take on. Some will take your entire vacation to hike while others will only require a day or a weekend. Here are a few of the best ones.
Cascade Mountain – Keene Valley, New York
This 4.8-mile trail is rated as one of the easiest in the eastern Adirondacks. But don’t let that fool you. The trail is still rated as moderate with a few steep hills to scale. You can expect to get a little winded unless you’re a pro. Most hikers complete the trail in four to five hours.
Because of the Cascade’s 360 degree views, this trail attracts a lot of visitors, especially during the summer months. If solitude is more what you have in mind, this probably is not the hike you want to take.
Long Trail, Jay Peak Long Trail North – Jay, Vermont
Highly rated as one of the most scenic hikes in the U.S., the trail is 3.5 miles long with a vertical rise of 1680’. It is rated as moderate but beginners usually have no problem. The average hiker finishes in four hours.
The Jay Peak Long Trail North is only a portion of the entire trail, but one that is recommended for day hikers. The entire Long Trail spans from Vermont’s Massachusetts border all the way to the Canadian border for a distance of 273 miles straight through the Green Mountains. The Appalachian Trail connects with it for about 100 miles. If time is no issue and you are looking for a challenging hike during your next vacation, you may wish to give this one consideration.
The Hayduke Trail’s Hurrah Pass, Arches National Park – Moab, Utah
This one is not for the faint of heart or those with fallen arches. Anyone attempting this hike should either have enough vacation days saved up or own the company. It is highly recommended that anyone attempting this hike be in tip-top physical condition, and have experience in desert backpacking. The terrain is incredibly rough in certain areas, and trails are more often than not, not marked.
The trail consists of 14 sections, the shortest one being 34.9 miles, and the longest one measuring 87.2. Elevations drastically range from 1,800 feet to 11,419.
The entire route is on public land, all located in National Parks. Should one hike the entire trail from Southern Utah to Northern Arizona, they will have hiked a total of 800 miles. All of it rugged. All of it backcountry.
One would be well advised to research the dangers associated with hiking the Hayduke Trail prior to tossing on a backpack and hitting the dusty.
The Lost Coast – California
Anyone in search of a week-long hike along the magnificent shoreline of the Pacific Ocean should consider this trail a viable option. One may have visions of the beach kiss scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the movie, From Here to Eternity, and wrongly believe this would be more of a casual walk along the seashore. Do not mislead.
California won’t even build roads along the shoreline cliffs, deeming them impassable. Because it’s California, seasonal weather is no concern. Don’t expect to run into throngs of other hikers while you’re out there, it’s a lonely trail.
The Lost Coast Trail stretches for 25 miles and parts of it are impassable at high tide. The terrain fluctuates from black sand to slippery algae covered boulders. As romantic and serene as a hike along the ocean might seem, this one is not recommended for the novice.
Snowmass Wilderness, Maroon Bells – Aspen, Colorado
It should first be noted that Aspen is a popular area. Because of this, though the scenery is absolutely breathtaking, nobody is ever alone. There are nine mountain peaks, six of them over 14,000 feet high. Despite the number of hikers who consistently turn out to breathe in the beauty, this area is not for the totally inexperienced. Trailblazers should at least be at the moderate level.
This loop trail runs for 25.2 miles through the homes of Elk and Mule Deer, fields of wildflowers, and groves of Aspen trees. There are plenty of great spots to pitch a tent along the way, and many people do.
Wherever you may live, every state has hiking trails. In fact, you most likely live within a reasonable distance of more than one. If you are a beginner, start out slow. If you get the bug, there’s nothing wrong with planning a vacation around getting back to nature. And, what better way to do it?