11 Best Hikes in the US

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Roan Mountain Highlands, NC – Photo by Robert Aberegg and RootsRated.com

From the rolling mountains of the southeast, to the jagged peaks of the west, to the canyons, waterfalls and old-growth forests of the Pacific Coast, these trails are ones for the bucket list. By no means an exhaustive list, here are 11 hikes across the country that simply have to be on your radar. Let us know which ones we missed!

1. Roan Mountain Highlands | Asheville, NC
Criss-crossing the Tennessee-North Carolina border for 14-miles, this section of the Appalachian Trail is easily one of the most beautiful stretches along the entire route from Maine to Georgia. The views from these ethereal highlands are stunning and constant, and bring to mind visions of Scotland and Wales.

2. Baxter Creek Trail | Knoxville, TN
In truth, almost every trail in Great Smoky Mountain National Park is eligible for your hiking bucket list, but one particular route that highlights the very best of this park is the Baxter Creek Trail- a 12 mile roundtrip with 4,000 feet of climbing, sweetly smelling spruce trees, and a lush rainforest understory.

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Baxter Creek Trail, TN – Photo by Miguel Vieira and RootsRated.com

3. Enchanted Rock | Austin, TX
Enchanted Rock is a 425-foot pink granite dome that shoots up from the flat Texan landscape and offers hikers an amazing place to explore. With its Native American folklore, fascinating geological formations, and sweeping views, this place is truly enchanted.

4. Superior Hiking Trail | Minneapolis, MN
Located in northern Minnesota, the Superior Hiking Trail is a 296-mile route that affords an epic adventure on the banks of Lake Superior. Whether thru-hiking or day-hiking, this trail, with its dense forests, deep gorges, and fast-flowing rivers (not to mention lovely views of the largest Great Lake) is an absolute must-experience.

5. Indian Peaks Wilderness Area | Boulder, CO
With over 75,000 acres of wilderness, plenty of towering peaks, and 133 miles of trails, visiting the Indian Peaks Wilderness of Colorado is an adventure that every hiking enthusiast should have. The Mitchell Lake Trail is one particular route that features high-altitudes, breathtaking views, and a pristine alpine lake.

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Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, CO – Photo by Steven Bratman and RootsRated.com

6. Paint Mines | Colorado Springs, CO
Located in the prairies of Colorado, the Paint Mines are a geological and archaeological wonder to behold. Sculpted over millions of years, these gulches now form a clay and sandstone labyrinth of butterscotch yellows, burnt oranges, and ruby reds, reminiscent of South Dakota’s legendary Badlands National Park.

7. Oneonta Gorge | Portland, OR
Though not much of a hike, and more like a .6-mile scramble over slippery and wobbly logs, Oneonta makes the list because it is truly one of the most stunning gorges in the country. Carved into a little cranny of the Columbia River Gorge, this picturesque canyon features lush green mossy walls and a wonderful swimming hole and waterfall at the end of the tunnel.

8. Sleeping Indian | Jackson Hole, WY
The 12-mile roundtrip up Sleeping Indian is quite possibly the best hike in all of Jackson Hole- which is saying something. What makes it so great? Well, aside from the pristine pine forests and wildflower meadows, Sleeping Indian has the best views of the Tetons that you can find anywhere in the area, and it’s not even in the Tetons.

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Sleeping Indian, WY – Photo by Dina Misner and RootsRated.com

9. Big Basin Redwoods State Park | San Francisco, CA
Located in California’s oldest state park, the Pine Mountain Trail, in Big Basin, is a thigh-burning journey that leads hikers through a dense forest of scented pines, ancient oaks, and towering redwoods until they reach the spectacular viewpoint known as ‘Buzzards Roost.’

10. Tequepis Trail | Santa Barbara, CA
The best part about the Tequepis Trail isn’t the smooth single track, or the 3,000 feet of elevation gain over 9-miles, or even the gorgeous views of Cachuma Lake. The best part about the Tequepis Trail is that it’s the closest trail to the Cold Spring Tavern– a rustic restaurant hidden in a sycamore forest offering blues music, craft brews, and delicious Tri-Tip sandwiches.

11. High Rock Lookout | Seattle, WA
The view from this old fire tower yields some of the most unbeatable views of Mt. Rainier that you can find anywhere in the Pacific Northwest. While it’s only a 3-mile roundtrip, this hike is not for the faint of heart, as it features quite a bit of elevation gain as well as dizzying, vertigo-inducing heights. But the views… wow.

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High Rock Lookout, WA – Photo by Douglas Scott and RootsRated.com

22 thoughts on “11 Best Hikes in the US

  1. Thanks for pointing these out. They look good. It’s a bit of a stretch to call them the best hikes. A better title might be “11 outstanding hikes you must put on your to-do list.” I think you get the idea.

  2. sorry, but this list sucks. No desert hikes? Nothing in NY or Maine? Nothing in Yosemite or Yellowstone or Death Valley or the Grand Canyon or Utah?

    Get real.

  3. Obviously the writer has never heard of, or read about, or hiked the John Muir Trail (JMT). I am a hiking enthusiast and the JMT is in everyone’s top-10 (of the people I have ever talked to about hiking).

  4. You have hit a couple nice ones on the AT. Roan was hard but the Balds were surreal for that far south.
    Some other candidates:
    (1) – obviously, the Knife Edge in Baxter State Park;
    (2) – the Hundred Mile wilderness on the AT in Maine;
    (3) – the AT across the White Mountains in NH, from Kinsman Notch (but include Moosilauke) to Grafton Notch (but include the Baldpates);
    (4) – the Great Range in the Adirondacks.

  5. Missed the mark all around on this analysis bud. Obviously you’ve missed out on the really amazing hikes….JMT, Whitney, Narrows,C2C, R2R, etc

  6. Can’t believe no Yosemite, Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Big Sur, Grand Canyon, Zion. If you call it the best……wow.

  7. So many awesome hikes, so little time and resources. If only I could get paid to hike 🙁

  8. No doubt some of these are awesome hikes, however, the writer missed a few real good ones. Here’s one, Jenny Lake to Lake Solitude via Cascade Canyon over to Paintbrush Canyon back to Jenny Lake. EPIC!!!!

  9. Not one hike from Utah and Arizona? I have been on a few of these hikes and they don’t make my top 50 hikes list…to each his own.

  10. To be fair, he did say 11 “of” the best, not “the best;” also, “by no means an exhaustive list.” And he did invite for additions. Obviously, lists have subjectivity and experience at play; one person’s best could be another’s hell, depending on weather conditions, experience along the route, etc.

  11. It is funny to read people whining in their comments about how their favorite trails weren’t included. Perhaps they should write their own article and be productive??

  12. One of the best things about the Sleeping Indian was that people didn’t know about it.

  13. Superior Hiking Trail is awesome and free, but definitely not in Minneapolis, MN more like 150 miles north of there…

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