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Epic U.S. Hiking Trails


What defines “epic” to you? For most, the right location in nature can yield vast canyons, sparkling lakes, majestic mountains, crackling glaciers, unusual rock formations and fiery volcanoes.


If we’re talking about hiking trails, and the sheer vast scope combined with difficulty level, then the obvious choices are well documented in numerous other blog posts on this topic: The Appalachian Trail and adjoining Mason-Dixon Trail System, the Grand Canyon, the Pacific Crest Trail, and most of the big national parks including Banff, Smoky Mountain and Big Sur.


What we’d like to bring you today is a choice list of perhaps some of the underrated pathways to hiking nirvana, a bit of the unpaved Road Less Travelled if you will, and hopefully inspire you to a new location with new vistas and a newfound sense of adventure. Grab your most durable footwear, pack a lunch or ten, and let’s go exploring!




John Muir Trail, California


Distance: 221 mi


Duration: 15-25 days


Notes: This trail begins in Yosemite National Park and ends at Mount Whitney, winding through several large breathtaking national parks along the way. Bring clothes and supplies for severe elevation changes, but stay for the camera-worthy views. 




Many Glacier Area, Montana


Distance: 7.6 Miles or 9.7 Miles


Duration: Day trip


Notes: Glacier National Park in Montana is another unsung hero of the hiking world, with gorgeous mountains, breathtaking lakes and waterfalls, lots of wildlife to see, and of course glaciers. Two popular trails are the Grinnell Glacier trail and the Iceberg Lake trail, but be prepared–neither will be a lazy stroll.




Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, California


Distance: 8 mi


Duration: Day trip


Notes: This natural reserve encompasses 1,750 acres just north of San Diego, and overlooks the beach. Several backcountry trails run through lush greenery, millennia-oldtreesand mile after mile of sheer visual awe.




Cirque of the Tower, Wyoming


Distance: 23-24 mi (full loop)


Duration: 2-4 days


Notes: Deep in the Rocky Mountains is this series of jagged granite spires and peaks, geared towards both hikers and climbers. Start at the Big Sandy Trailhead (a 55-mile drive is the only way in) and wind your way past towering peaks and shimmering glacier lakes.




Angels Landing, Utah


Distance: 2.5 mi


Duration: Day trip


Notes: This rock formation, located in Zion National Park, ascends 1,488 ft and is not for the faint of heart. The trail itself has been cut into solid rock, and while it’s not a physically intensive hike, the final segment will test your ability to tolerate steep grades, daunting cliff faces, and abrupt drop-offs on the way to a heart-stopping view of Zion Canyon.




Jay Peak/Long Trail North, Vermont


Distance: 3.5 mi


Duration: Day trip


Notes: One of the oldest long-distance trails in the country runs from Massachusetts almost all the way to Canada, but the best part is this section, for hikers at any experience level. While Jay Peak is known for skiing, you can also go during the warmer months to catch wildflowers like you’ve never seen before.




Tahoe Rim Trail, Utah


Distance: 165 mi


Duration: 8-12 days (1-2 days per section)


Notes: This trip around the panoramic Lake Tahoe is split into several smaller sections, each one from 13-30 miles with a lot of elevation changes to challenge even veteran hikers. Peak visitor season is July to September, but the area is open through the winter.




Mt. Healy Overlook Trek, Alaska


Distance: 4.5 mi


Duration: Day trip


Notes: If you’ve ever wanted to simply walk up most of a mountain without technical hiking equipment or advanced skill level, this is an easy start. Beginning in the deep woods, you’ll walk through fauna-filled alpine tundra and end up at an unforgettable lookout of the surrounding landscape.




Paint Mines, Colorado


Distance: 3.6 mi


Duration: Day trip


Notes: Fans of geology, history or archaeology and hikers alike will enjoy the relics and artifacts that can befound alongthis figure 8 loop. The whole area is chock-full of everything from brightly colored clay to evidence of the ancient past, with no end of things to look at or discover. Chalk this up asa very uniqueexperience.




Have we left any out? Ofcoursewe have. The list of awesome hiking trails is simply never-ending, and we could literally write the rest of the year on just that subject. Perhaps the best takeaway from this is how many amazing places there are just in the U.S. to visit and go for an extended hike. Start planning your next trip now!

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