From the Smokies to the Rockies, and the Everglades to the highest point in Maine—and everywhere in between—the United States is full of world-class hiking trails. Whether you’re a hardcore peak back packer, out for an ambitious day hike, or are obsessed with the panoramic views for your Instagram feed, there’s always something thrilling to lace your hiking boots up for.
1. Teton Crest Trail, Wyoming
Wyoming’s Teton Crest Trail might just take the cake as being the most epic. For 35-45 miles (depending on your route), this slender singletrack path cuts a dwarfed, serpentine figure as it slices through the heart of one of America’s most stunning mountain ranges, linking together its very best features along the way.
2. Buckskin Gulch, Utah
Buckskin Gulch highlights the beauty of slot canyon hiking in Utah—just make sure to do your homework before venturing out. In a region as labyrinthine and loaded with slot canyons as Southern Utah, Buckskin Gulch is certainly the longest and the deepest and probably the best. For 13 miles, these narrows snake through a mazy tunnel of towering red rock walls, often no more than a wingspan’s width apart and so tall that they block out sunlight.
3. Grayson Highlands, Virginia
Wild ponies will be your companions on a hike in the Grayson Highlands of Virginia. Grayson Highlands of Virginia are breathtaking. They are an almost make-believe land of high mountain meadows, 5,000-foot peaks, thick rhododendron tunnels, and mystical wild ponies. The route starts out from the Massie Gap parking area along the Rhododendron Trail.
4. Wheeler Peak, New Mexico
Wheeler Peak will challenge your quads, but the panoramic views at the summit make it worth it. The 8.2-mile round-trip hike to this lofty summit in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains is one of the best in New Mexico and a true lesson in uphill slogging. Averaging about 800 vertical feet per mile, this trail takes hikers through lung-expanding evergreen forests and then up lung-crushing climbs above treeline.
5. Rae Lakes Loop, Kings Canyon National Park
The 41.4-mile Rae Lakes Loop showcases some of the most stunning scenery in the High Sierra, with stellar lake views. While the hike includes the heart-pounding, 2.1-mile ascent of Glen Pass at 11,998 feet, grades are generally moderate and water is plentiful along the way. To avoid several intense climbs, do this hike clockwise.
6. Florida National Scenic Trail
The Florida National Scenic Trail runs from the state’s Panhandle through its southern reaches. One of the most iconic trails in the Southeast, this 1,300-mile route stretches from the state’s Panhandle all the way to Big Cypress National Preserve at the southern end of the state. Campgrounds, both primitive and traditional, are interspersed along the way, so you can easily turn your day hike into an over-nighter.
7. Skyline-To-The-Sea Trail, Santa Cruz, California
The Skyline-to-the-Sea trail is net downhill, making for an especially rewarding finish at the Pacific Ocean. Built over seven years by a local nonprofit, the trail treats hikers to roaring waterfalls and towering coastal redwoods and passes through two excellent state parks, Castle Rock and Big Basin, before culminating at the Pacific Ocean.