From Banff to hiking trails in Yosemite, you’re spoilt for choice for adventure in America
“It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” That quote was said by the famous Sir Edmund Hillary who was the first man (along with the help of Sherpa Tenzing Norgay) to ever make it to the summit of Mt. Everest in Nepal. If there is one man to take your hiking advice from it would be him and I bet he knew some incredible hiking trails.
So start lacing up your hiking boots and air out the old tent because today we’re going to talk about the eight most EPIC hiking trails in North America to add to your bucket list!
8. Awa’awapuhi Trail in Kōkeʻe State Park – Hawaii
This trail is located near Kekaha Hawaii on the small island of Kauai (famous for its beautiful mountains!). The sheer cliffs of the Napali Coast may look daunting from the ground but that’s because they are best viewed from the summit of the Awa’awapuhi Trail.
This is a 6.7 mile round trip with a 2125 foot elevation gain. It has been rated a moderate difficulty by experienced hikers. Something to consider? The first half of the trail is relatively easy with a steady decline but the return trip is nothing but an uphill grind!
It’s worth it for the stunning views of Waimea Canyon, unparalleled birdwatching, and unforgettable walks through world-famous Hawaiian rainforests.
7. The Lake Agnes Tea House in Banff National Park -Alberta
The Lake Agnes Trail is a stunning taste of the Canadian Rocky Mountains beginning with a long series of switchbacks up a steady incline and ends with unparalleled views of glacial Lake Louise and the Nokhu Crags. But the best part about hiking the Lake Agnes Trail in Banff National Park? The summit is home to a crystal clear lake and a functioning tea house!
The tea house was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901 and still serves cold drinks and little bites after a long hike. The tea house is open between June and October. Plus, if you’re sweaty after the hike you can take a quick dip in Lake Agnes but just remember: you still have to get down!
The 4.7 mile hike is considered moderate (I completed this hike when I was about 10 years old so that’s a pretty good indicator…) and is best done between June and August.
It is a short and often crowded hike due to the exciting refreshments at the summit but it’s worth it! Although if you prefer longer versions of this hike I recommend Little Beehive or Big Beehive.
6. Rubicon Trail in D.L. Bliss State Park – California
This unique hike is considered to be one of the best spots to view famous Lake Tahoe. There is a variety of terrain from short ranging from short and steep elevation gains and drops to flats, twits, shoreline cliffs, and even coves.
While hiking the Rubicon Trail you’re met with a vast variety of flora from mountain dogwood, bitter cherry, black cottonwood, columbine, yellow monkey flower, nightshade, bleeding heart, leopard lily, currant, huckleberry, and gooseberry!
This is a longer hike at 11.9 miles with a 1381 foot elevation gain and is considered moderate. This trail is best done from March through September.
5. Seven Bridges Trail in North Cheyenne Cañon Park – Colorado
This trail is aptly named as it follows a set of seven bridges across the North Cheyenne Creek and up into the Cheyenne Canyon. This is a shady, easy, cool, and breezy trail following a charming creek and beautiful meadows that comes highly recommended by Colorado natives.
This hike is a 3.7 mile journey round-trip but some people just chose to go to the seventh bridge and back which is only 1.6 miles. It is a beautiful hike in the fall when the Aspen trees start to turn colors. There is a 1033 foot elevation gain and hike is recommended to be done anywhere from March – November.
4. Clouds Rest Trail in Yosemite National Park – California
Alright, no more mister nice guy. Say goodbye to your moderate day hike and hello to Clouds Rest Trail in Yosemite famous for the massive granite formation at the summit that is easily spotted deep in the valley. This 12.3 mile round trip boasts a 3113 foot elevation gain to to the 9926 foot summit.
You will gain thousands of feet of elevation through a serious of strenuous and narrow switchbacks. Beware the sheer drop-0ffs and potential water hazards. Walk right into the clouds.
But with hard work comes great reward! You will see some classic Yosemite landmarks like Half Dome, Mt. Hoffman, Sentinel Dome, and Tenaya Lake on your ascent. You will be met with panoramic views at the summit of the beautiful Yosemite National Park.
This hike is not for the faint of heart but if you decide to give it a go the fastest way to the summit is from the Sunrise Lakes Trailhead.
3. Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park – Washington
In the complete opposite fashion of Clouds Rest the Hoh River Trail is a long and relatively easy to moderate hike. This 32.8 mile year-round hike ambles through the mossy and dense Olympic National Park near Forks, Washington. While it is year-round hikers recommend going anywhere from late June through September.
You will be greeted with views of Mount Olympus and Blue Glacier. While it is primarily flat it does ascend quickly from Hoh River to Glacier Meadow. This is not an out-and-back trip but it is well-maintained with camping spots abound.
At the completion of this trail there is a 5114 foot elevation gain through part of the wettest region in the lower 48 states. Wander through spectacular rainforests and meadows. See the heart of the Pacific North West.
2. Tuckerman’s Ravine in the White Mountain National Forest – New Hampshire
Tuckerman’s Ravine is a 7.9 mile loop trail with peak season between March and October. This hike has extremely difficult terrain with a 4169 foot elevation gain taking you to the top of Mount Washington, the tallest mountain in New England.
It is recommended that you contact the Mount Washington Observatory for a forecast prior to your trip for updates on the weather. You will pass by Hermit Lake Shelters on the way up as well as the vast ravine and waterfall.
For those who are less well-versed in hiking there is the Mount Washington Auto Road where you can drive your car to the summit or, even better, the Cog Railway! Take an old-fashioned feat of engineering to the tippy top of the summit. Experience vertical inclines that would not be possible in any other vehicles!
1. Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park – Utah
THIS is truly an epic hike! You begin at the Grotto Trailhead and follow the West Rim Trail route for one of Zion National Park’s classic hikes. Angel’s Landing boasts some of the most stunning views known to man but it is not for the faint of heart or for those who do not enjoy hikes.
The trail is extremely strenuous and exposed to directed Utah sun. Hikers recommend going in the fall so the sun isn’t quite as strong. It is only a 4.8 mile round trip with a 1500 foot elevation gain but it is narrow.
Your first obstacle when hiking Angel’s Landing is what’s called Walter’s Wiggles which are a set of compact switchbacks that take you to the top of Refrigerator Canyon. Don’t forget to stop at Scout’s Lookout for a stunning view!
Finally, you come to the hardest part of the hike: walking a thin and narrow strip f mountain, exposed on both sides with steep potential down-hill descents. Luckily, there are chains to grasp. But when you reach the summit you will have 360-degree views of Zion National Park, one of America’s treasures.
If you have the itch to hit the hiking trails now just like me then I suggest that you pack a bag, grab a friend, and hike to the top of a mountain!
Enjoyed that article? Also Read:
Check out our Travel Ideas section for more stories.