Never laced up a pair of Wild-inspired hiking boots, slung a backpack over your shoulders, and embraced the great outdoors? The good news is that you've still got some of your 99 days of summer left to cross it off your bucket list. And we know just where you should start.
From majestic purple mountains to sweeping landscapes and wide-open skies, the 50 hikes below are the best (in our opinion) across the country. Each one will raise your heart rate—but, according to research it’ll also boost your mood and stall your stress, too. From Alabama to Wyoming, scroll down to see the best hikes in each state, broken down by region.
Connecticut: St. John's Ledges And Caleb's Peak
There’s high-intensity-interval-training tough, and then there’s St. John's Ledges And Caleb's Peak tough. Despite its level of difficulty (i.e. not for beginners), this Appalachian Trail segment is still one of the most-beautiful and most-popular hikes in the Nutmeg State. Its ups and downs resemble a roller coaster track at times, so you can bet this nine-mile trek is great for your peach emoji.
Delaware: Whitley Farm Trail
If you’re just taking up hiking as a hobby, this moderate, well-marked, seven-miler is a great option (especially if you have a pup-pal to bring with you). The reward is great: meadows of Instagram-worthy wildflowers.
A four-mile, moderate-level hike through part of Acadia National Park will lead you to one of the state’s most beautiful views. Pro tip: Hike to the top before lunch, eat by the lake, then wander back down on your own time.
Massachusetts: Robert Frost Trail
This trail, named after the famous "The Road Not Taken" poet, is up to 47 miles one way, but with a little out-and-back action, short trips are available. The footpath runs from South Hadley to Wendell State Forest, passing several scenic attractions, including Mount Toby and the Holyoke Range. It’s easy to get caught up hiking longer than planned, so you’d be silly not to bring some healthy snacks. Paleo beef jerky? Yes, please.
New Hampshire: Franconia Ridge Loop
Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop offer an 8.5-mile trek that’s hiking-boot-required, but the reward is great. Picture: rock-lined paths and baby-blue skies dancing around you, plus, a trail that doesn’t look like Machu Picchu.
New Jersey: Indian Rock
Lakes, brooks, and serious views, this five-ish-mile hike has it all. First, you’ll climb along Ramapo Lake, then you’ll follow the Wanaque Ridge Trail, and finally, you’ll end up at a spot with stunning views over the Garden State.
New York: Appalachian Trail
No, you don’t have to commit to the 2,000+ miles of the Appalachian Trail to get in on this famous hike. Just pick your trail, grab the directions, and head out on the hike-level of your choosing—all levels really can make the trail work for them. Do it for the bragging rights.
Pennsylvania: Ricketts Glen
Pack your swimsuit, because, along this three-mile, moderate-level hike, you’ll come across 22 named waterfalls. So not only will you essentially be surrounded by Instagrammable beauts every step of the way, you’ll get a chance to cool off. If you and your fit-squad want more of a challenge, you can also hike the trail’s full seven-mile loop.
Rhode Island: Breakheart Loop
Rhode Islanders know that their state is pretty flat—which means this 3.7-mile route (featuring foliage and pond views) is the slow-jog of hikes, i.e. the difficulty is low and it’s a great route for families.
This six-mile, round-trip trail isn’t too steep, but the rocks are basically boulders and the terrain can be treacherous without hiking boots. So, lace up, mentally prepare for a difficult path, and get going on this five- or six-hour climb.
Illinois: Starved Rock Trail
Stunning rock formations, majestic waterfalls, and views on views on views. That’s what you’ll get from this 4.4-mile, easy-ish loop. It’s only 90 minutes from Chicago, so grab your morning matcha to go and hit the trails before your fellow Windy City-ers do.
Indiana: City Falls State Park
This trail is like a good jean jacket: rugged, but not too rugged. This moderate-rated, 5.7-mile hike takes you past several (yes, plural!) waterfalls and a 600-foot railroad tunnel. Raise your hand if you’re thinking about the Instagram opportunities. Same girl.
Iowa: Backbone State Park Loop
Devil's Backbone? It sounds like a band your too-punk-for-you ex was in. But it’s actually the highest point in Northeastern Iowa, and right where this 6.5-mile loop will take you.
Kansas: Elk River Hiking
This 15-mile hike is the SLT of hikes: a slow burn that'll feel *so* worth it once you've finished. The terrain is moderate with pockets of steep climbs followed by straightaway lulls. Sure the route is long, but remember: nothing promotes self-confidence quite like climbing a mountain.
Michigan: Chapel Trail Mosquito Falls
If this 9.7-mile trail had a dating profile it would say, “I like long lakefront walks and chasing waterfalls (two actually).” Yep, McDreamy.
Minnesota: Ozawindib Trail
Animal lovers, this loop’s for you. Swans, otters, and loons are a guarantee see as you pass by 18 lakes, that yes, are all swim-worthy.
Missouri: Lone Wolf Trail at Castlewood State Park
The hike is short—only 1.7 miles—but the panoramic views from the top of the bluffs are so spectacular that you definitely won’t get bored repeating it a few times. There’s also a creek crossing, a great 'Gram opportunity for yogis.
Nebraska: Indian Cave State Park
The Indian Cave trail loop is about 3.1 miles long, but the park features a variety of interconnecting trails, caves, and shelters that can have you trekking for up to 7 miles. Pack extra nutrition bars and water, and if you’re a lifting-glove-wearer, consider packing them. Rumor has it there’s climbing rings along the trail.
North Dakota: Maah Daah Hey Trail
Covering 144 miles, Maah Daah Hey Trail is ideal for hiking and biking. But don’t worry, you don’t have to commit to the triple-digit hike to enjoy the majestic plateaus, jagged peaks, valleys, and rolling prairie. There are six points of access for hikes of varying lengths.
Ohio: Hocking Hills
Hocking Hills State Park offers nine (look Ma, both hands!) hiking trails, which each offer spectacular rock formations and caves and hidden waterfalls. This climb is especially worth it in the fall when the leaves start changing. Best part? Two of the 9 hikes are handicap accessible.
South Dakota: Black Elk Peak South Dakota Highpoint Trail
Black Elk is the highest point in South Dakota, and you know what that means? Views. This seven-mile out-and-back gets gradually steeper (#peachpump), with truly unique boulders and rock-infrastructures at the top.
Wisconsin: Parnell Tower Trail
Looking for a hike to do that’s more active recovery than full-on-fitness? This 3.5 miler is ideal for an active recovery rest day. Clouds permitting, you can see 25 miles of Wisconsin forest in every direction!
This is the longest trail in the Alaskan state park at 9.5 miles one way. It'll take you 8–10 hours to complete the round trip. What'll you see along the way? Epic views of Riley Creek, plenty of spruce trees, and mountain ranges in the distance. Sounds dreamy, right?
Arizona: Douglas Spring Trail
Located Near Tucson, the Douglas Spring Trail is like your Sunday Marathon training run, which is to say its long and easy. For 16.6 miles, you’ll climb steadily from cactus plains to grassy flats, bushy hillsides and eventually into woodland, passing several small streams. (Who knew Arizona wasn’t just dry?) If you’re a beginner hiker, stick to an out-and-back to Bridal Wreath Falls which is only 6 miles.
California: Alamere Falls
Waterfall hikes will *always* be bucket list worthy. This one, in particular, will take you to a beautiful and rare tidefall, which plummets 40 feet until it reaches the ocean. In addition to packing your camera, pack your swimsuit for this 8.5 mile out-and-back trek—you’ll want to take a dip in Bass Lake on the way back to the trailhead.
Colorado: Sunnyside Trail
Chilly morning mountain air, wide horizons, open skies that fill up with stars at night, and roaming elk and bison as your neighbors. Yep, Aspen is the epitome of a hiker’s paradise. This almost 10-mile trail is complete with switch-backs through sagebrush, and scenic views even locals will appreciate. Just don’t wear sneaks you care about, the trail is *all* dirt.
Hawaii: Diamond Head Summit Trail
Let’s face it, Hawaii may be the most-famous island in America. And while the picturesque state is known for its beaches...it has trails, too. One of the most-popular being up Diamond Head, a volcanic crater on Oahu, which is a 1.5-mile round-trip trek to its rim and back with seriously scenic, panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. You can be up and down it in the a.m. with plenty of time to make it to the beach by noon.
Around nine miles total, Iron Creek to Sawtooth Lake Trail is a go-to for photographers, thanks to the Alpine Lake, Sawtooth Lake, and Mt. Regan, which are all on the trail. For you, that means lots of opportunities to model your hiking boots with a forest-foliage backdrop.
Oregon: South Sisters
Oregon, is the second-best place to live for active adults (after Illinois), so it’s no surprise that it’s a hike-hub. The 11-mile out-and-back South Sister Trail, in Bend, is one of the most heavily-trafficked routes, thanks to its lake and mountain views. The route is long, so set your alarm early—or be sure to pack a tent.
Montana: Cottonwood Creek, Crazy Mountains
Unlike many backpacking routes, this hike there-and-back offers great mountain views right from the start. Meander up steep, craggy terrain along the Cottonwood Creek for five miles to the top, then fish, hunt, or lunch by the lake before climbing back down. Yes, you should always take a map and a compass with you, but because you’re hiking along the creek it’s pretty tough to get lost.
Nevada: Calico Tank
This 2.2 mile scurry over jumbled sandstone to a hidden water-pocket and view of Vegas will do your mind and body a world of good.
New Mexico: La Luz Trail
This popular trail is rated difficult, but the view is worth it. Not only is Albuquerque impressive looking from above, you get to see all the surrounding mountains from up high. It’s eight miles up, but you can take the aerial tramway back down.
Utah: Queen’s Garden Trail
Set up in Bryce Canyon National Park, this 6.5-mile loop has become a signature trail in the park. Considered the least difficult trail to get from the canyon to the rim, you can expect to see many rock formations along the way—crystal enthusiasts, you’ll appreciate this in particular.
Washington: Lake Angeles
Sure, there are times when the treadmill or stair climber comes in handy, but Pacific Northwesterners know that Mother Nature really is the ultimate gym. And this glacier-graced, 7.5-mile loop on the Olympic Pennisula proves it. The trek isn’t too tough but tough enough to make you work for the perfect lunch spot on the shore of Lake Angeles.
The dramatic landscape features canyon views and waterfalls (NBD). Sure, eight miles isn’t short, but you’ll get a chance to explore the beauty of America's most popular national parks.
Alabama: Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail
Hikers looking for under-the-radar (but not too cool for you) routes will love this 15-mile stretch, which boasts cliffs, canyon rims, plus waterfalls. Just be prepared to see some wildlife on this wild hike: Alligators, bobcats and deer are all fair game.
Arkansas: Lost Valley Trail
Just like millennial pink drinks, there's a reason this trail is so popular: It's amazing...and totally 'Grammable. The two-ish mile hike is ranked moderate and features breathtaking river views, a 52-foot waterfall, and an all-natural bridge.
Florida: Wekiwa Spring Loop Trail
If you're going to Disney World, you're likely going for the rides. But consider taking a break from the lines and heading 20 minutes north of Orlando to Apopka to hike this extremely accessible, easy trail that can take you anywhere from 6 to 13 miles. It's Mother Nature's own adventure park.
Georgia: Tallulah Gorge State Park
Looking for an adreneline rush? This route allows hikers to peer into the gorge’s depths from the rim’s dizzying heights of 1,000 feet up. And a suspension bridge sways 80 feet above the rocky bottom, providing spectacular views of the river and waterfalls below.
Kentucky: Berea Forest Trail,
On the hunt for a moderate to strenuous climb? Well, this almost 7-mile-loop (also known as Pinnacle) has got you covered. Ranked as strenuous, this hike will take you through two peaks (West Pinnacle and East Pinnacle). The gorgeous views and beautiful wildflower stretches are worth the effort.
Louisiana: Barataria Preserve Trails
Nature and wildlife-lovers schlep to Barataria Preserve's 23,000+ acres in Marrero for the animal citings (think: alligator-filled marshlands and swaps). But hikers come here for the well-kept grounds, serious vegetation, and variety of trail-lengths. This four-mile trail that's paved or gravel-laid the whole way around is the most popular.
Maryland: Billy Goat Trail
Adventurers, this eight-mile hike is for you. Pack you're broken-in hiking boots (you'll want that good grip on rocks and hills), keep your camera close, and get ready to traverse along the Potomac River gorge where rock-scrambling is just part of the trail.
Mississippi: Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
Imagine the tallest tree you can think of...then double its height. Now think about a forest of trees that tall. That's what you'll get in this landscape. There are five main trail segments each ranging from 3–25 miles long. Your best bet is to figure out if you're looking for a morning stroll or an all-day hike and pick accordingly.
North Carolina: Grandfather Mountain
This trails nickname? The Grandaddy of Hikes. It takes you to Grandfather Mountain's three main peaks (MacRae, Attic Window, and Calloway), all of which are within 1.5 miles of each other, and have slightly different terrain.
Oklahoma: Ankle Express Trail
Twelve miles through Greenleaf State Park is no small feat, but for more advanced hikers it's totally doable. The scenic hike will take you to a swinging bridge that is probably more popular with photographers than these millennial pink beaches. *Swoon*.
South Carolina: Hidden Falls Trails in Oconee State Park
Hidden Falls is just one of many trails through this picturesque state park near Mountain Rest. At five miles long, you'll meander through chestnut oaks, and end up face-to-face with cascading water (AKA falls).
Tennessee: Alum Cave Bluffs Cave
Expect lots of wildflowers on this hike, which is about 10 miles round-trek. The path passes right under a natural arch made from eroded rock #photoop.
Texas: North Shore Trail
What's the saying, everything is bigger in Texas? Then it shouldn't be surprising that this heavily trafficked, out-and-back trail is 15 miles long. Here, you'll find a variety of terrains, seriously well-maintained grounds, and a few lake views.
Virginia: Old Rag Mountain
Some things you do for the guts. Some things you do for the glory. This, you’ll do for the views. Pro tip: This Old Rag Mountain nine-mile hike in the Shenandoah National Park is one of the most popular hikes, so get your coffee to go and aim to start climbing by 8 a.m.
West Virginia: Maryland Heights Loop
This 6.2 mile trail near Harpers Ferry is not for beginners. But it is for history buffs. The trail is dotted with Civil War fortifications and signs that explain the cultural significance of different spots along the path. Plus, it's dog-friendly (as long as Fido stays on his leash) and great for bird watching or wildflower picking, too.
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