Hiking gives us the much-needed escape from daily mundaneness. A breath of fresh air in the wilderness rejuvenates the human body like nothing else.
As of 2019, there are about 49 million hikers in the U.S and over 20,000 miles of land to trail.
Without going too deep into the nerdy numbers, let's take a look at the 10 most popular trails in the US.
- Yosemite Falls Trail
Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, located in Northern California. Divided into upper fall, middle cascades, and lower fall, it is also one of the highest waterfalls in the world with a total drop of 2425 ft.
The hike to the lower Yosemite fall is relatively easy across Northside Drive. If you're traveling with kids, I'm sure the mellow spots of Yosemite Creek will be their favorite.
Hiking to the upper fall is doable if you start early and take a few breaks on your way. Be sure to carry all the hiking essentials in your backpack.
The guide of best hiking backpack 2021 on resmarty.com website can help you choose the right backpack for your hikes.
- Angels Landing
Angels Landing is a rock formation in Zion National Park. It is situated in southwestern Utah and was previously known as the Temple of Aeolus.
The steep trail stretches to 7 km and can be challenging. Some of the narrow spots and switchbacks are scary. But the breathtaking view from the destination makes it all worth it. No wonder, the trail is crowded round the clock. Scheduling this trip between February and October is ideal.
This hike is not recommended for little kids and acrophobic people.
- Devil's Bridge Trailhead
If you're a nature fanatic, I'm sure you've heard of Sedona, a desert town in Arizona. The uptown is well-developed and the outskirts have several trailheads to explore.
The Devil's Bridge Trailhead is one of the popular tourist destinations in the town. The bridge is 54 feet tall and 45 feet long.
The hike is easy and takes about 4 to 7 hours (it varies according to the trail you choose).
If you're going to hike in the winter, Mescal Trail is the best way to reach Devil's Bridge Trailhead. In this route, there's foot traffic along with mountain bikers.
- Katahdin Trail
The trail to Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park is for all the daredevils out there. It has been rightly named 'Katahdin' which means 'the greatest mountain'. This mountain is so iconic that it inspired several paintings and even a piano sonata.
The elevation gain is nearly 4000'. You'll need at least 8 hours for the roundtrip. Baxter State Park has published maps for 9 trail routes. Among them, Abol is the shortest and Saddles is the easiest.
Another mega trail called The Traveler Loop combines 4 trails on which you can see 3 additional peaks.
Make your reservations early as the access to Katahdin is limited to prevent heavy jamming.
- Kalalau Trail
The Kalalau Trail is probably nature's way of blending beauty and danger.
The trail is 18 km long. So, for the round trip, you'll need at least two days unless you're a pro at hiking. Only expert trail runners have finished the hike in a single day.
There are two permitted campsites, Hanakoa valley, and Kalalau Beach to recharge yourself. Keep in mind that only hikers with valid camping permits are allowed to travel to Hanakoa valley. Camping permits to Kalalau Beach are limited only to 5 consecutive nights.
At the end of the trail, you're rewarded with an impressive view of the Pacific Ocean.
- Gatlinburg Trail
Looking for pet-friendly trails? Your search ends here!
The Great Smoky Mountains offers two such trails, Gatlinburg Trail and Oconaluftee River Trail.
Gatlinburg Trail is 6 km long and is located near Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The gravel path is 4 feet wide and is suitable for beginners too. In fact, this is one of the easiest hiking trails in the U.S.
The elevation gain is 50 m. The trail is flat with almost no ups and downs. Except for the bridge over the Little Pigeon River, the entire trail is accessible by wheelchair.
- Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail Loop
We're now heading to Maine!
Located in Acadia National Park, the Cadillac Mountain South Ridge Trail Loop is of moderate difficulty making it great for family hiking trips. The loop measures about 13 km.
The climb is gradual but descends to The Featherbed, a small pond where you can give your legs some rest while you eat a snack. You'll also come across a looking point called Eagle's Crag.
If you're interested, extending your hike to Blackwoods Campground will add to the fun. For the best experience, I recommend visiting this between May and October.
- Gallagator Trail
Gallagator Trail runs for about 5 km along the east side of Bozeman, Montana. It is also known as the Linear Trail. It occupies an old railway line called the 'Gallagator' referring to its slowness.
The trail is muddy in fall and icy in the winters. April to October is considered the best period to travel here.
The path is used by the locals every day. So, don't mistake everyone you come across on this hike to be a tourist.
You'll also come across Langhor Park with a natural playground and pollinator garden, which is full of blooming wildflowers.
- West Maroon Creek Trail
The West Maroon Creek Trail is located near Aspen, Colorado. It extends to about 33 kilometers and is considered to be a difficult trail. The elevation gain is around 500 ft to Crater Lake.
From stunning waterfalls to serene lakes, this trail has it all. Pyramid Peak and Maroon Bells are a must-see.
Although the trail is popular, there are very few hikers willing to spend two days for the roundtrip. So, if you're an ardent hiker looking for less crowded destinations, you'll enjoy hiking West Maroon Creek.
- Berea Pinnacles
The Pinnacles in Berea, Kentucky offer multiple trails for both amateur and pro hikers. The best part, all these trails can be covered in a day.
The total trail length is around 8km. Some popular spots on this hike are East Pinnacle, West Pinnacle, and Eagle's Nest. You can experience different views of Kentucky at each of these.
The West Pinnacle demands intermediate rock-climbing skills. The Indian Fort Lookout makes for a perfect picnic spot.
The longest trail, Buzzard's Roost is considered the toughest of all. But you can find comfort in its lush greenery.
Which one of these is your favorite? Let me know in the comments.
And if you and your friends are planning your next adventure, I hope this list comes in handy.
Res Marty is a passionate globetrotter who loves to share his adventures on the internet. He is the owner of ResMarty.com and has hiked in many countries like Bolivia and Costa Rica. He currently lives in Switzerland. Apart from traveling, he likes to play tennis and soccer.