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The Best US States to Go Hiking

Chattanooga, Tennessee, City image

Best US States to Go Hiking

From desert plains to ancient woodlands and expansive vistas to dramatic gorges, the United States offers a plethora of breathtaking hiking destinations. Its vast and varied geography and numerous scenic trails render it one of the world’s best destinations for hiking enthusiasts. Below, we’ll highlight some of the best U.S. states to go hiking, taking you to explore the diverse wonders that await along America’s trails.

  • North Carolina

North Carolina is a haven for hiking enthusiasts, with its diverse range of landscapes that cater to all levels of hikers. From the majestic peaks of the Appalachian Mountains to the tranquil beauty of coastal marshes, the Tar Heel State has various scenic trails for all skill levels.

One iconic destination for hiking in North Carolina is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Here, you can hike the Appalachian Trail, a legendary long-distance trail stretching over 70 miles within the park’s boundaries. With its panoramic vistas, cascading waterfalls, and lush forests, hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail promises an incredible adventure to the great outdoors.

Those seeking panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains should venture into the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area. Trails like the Linville Gorge Trail and the Linville Falls Trail offer breathtaking overlooks of the rugged gorge and cascading waterfalls. In addition, the challenging but rewarding hike to the summit of Grandfather Mountain provides stunning vistas of the surrounding peaks.

In western North Carolina, Pisgah National Forest is a hiker’s paradise. Its extensive network of trails takes you through old-growth forests, pristine streams, and towering waterfalls. Meanwhile, trails like the Black Balsam Knob Trail and the Art Loeb Trail offer panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges, while the hike to Looking Glass Rock rewards you with stunning views from the summit.

Further east, the coastal region of North Carolina boasts unique hiking opportunities. The Outer Banks have scenic trails like the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, which takes you to pristine beaches, maritime forests, and historic landmarks like the Bodie Island Lighthouse.

Whether exploring the majestic mountains of the western region or the tranquil coastal trails of the east, a hiking excursion in North Carolina will leave you with memorable adventures.

  • Tennessee 

Tennessee is another US state renowned for offering incredible hiking opportunities, with a diverse array of landscapes that cater to all levels of hikers. From the rugged beauty of the Appalachian Mountains to the lush forests of the Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee offers an abundance of scenic trails waiting for you to explore.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, City image

There are some unique glamping cabins in Tennessee, great for those looking to immerse in nature while enjoying the comforts of home. From luxury tents in the mountains to cosy cabins overlooking scenic vistas, these accommodations provide the perfect base for exploring Tennessee’s hiking trails.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a popular hiking spot in Tennessee, straddling the border with North Carolina. Within the park, you can traverse the Appalachian Trail, a legendary long-distance trail featuring stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Another is the Alum Cave Trail, taking you through a picturesque forest and into the stunning Alum Cave Bluffs.

For those seeking panoramic views of the Cumberland Plateau, the Fiery Gizzard Trail in South Cumberland State Park is a must-visit. This challenging trail winds through rugged terrain, past cascading waterfalls, and along rocky bluffs, rewarding hikers with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

The Radnor Lake State Park in Middle Tennessee offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle. The Lake Trail loops around the scenic Radnor Lake, offering a chance to spot wildlife such as deer, turtles, and various bird species. Thanks to the park’s proximity to Nashville, it’s a popular destination for day hikes.

Whether traversing the rugged terrain of the Appalachian Mountains or exploring the tranquil beauty of the state parks, you’ll find adventures and natural beauty around every corner of Tennessee.

  • Hawaii 

The Hawaiian Islands offer unparalleled hiking options to delight adventurers and nature lovers seeking to explore the state’s natural beauty. From lush rainforests and volcanic craters to cascading waterfalls and coastal cliffs, the Aloha State boasts exceptional hiking opportunities.

Hawaii, Beach, Sea image - best us states for hiking

The Haleakala National Park of Maui boasts some of Hawaii’s most scenic hiking trails. The Pipiwai Trail in the Kipahulu District of Haleakala leads through a lush bamboo forest before reaching the towering Waimoku Falls. Meanwhile, the Sliding Sands Trail offers breathtaking views of the Haleakala Crater and surrounding volcanic landscape. Beyond hiking, there are numerous things to do and see in Maui, perfect for those planning hiking excursions here. You can explore the charming town of Lahaina, relax on world-renowned beaches like Ka’anapali and Wailea, or embark on a scenic drive along the Road to Hana.

One of Hawaii’s most epic hiking destinations is the Na Pali Coast on Kauai. The Kalalau Trail, which spans 11 miles along the rugged coastline, offers breathtaking views of towering cliffs, pristine beaches, and turquoise waters. Explore lush valleys and hidden waterfalls, offering a remarkable hiking adventure.

On the Big Island of Hawaii, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers an otherworldly hiking experience amidst volcanic landscapes. Trails like the Kilauea Iki Trail take you across a crater floor, while the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs Trail features fascinating ancient rock carvings. The park’s ever-changing landscape, shaped by volcanic activity, provides a unique and incredible backdrop for hiking adventures.

Whether exploring the lush rainforests of Maui, the rugged coastline of Kauai, or the volcanic landscapes of the Big Island, you are sure to find awe-inspiring natural beauty to explore in the Aloha State.

  • Florida

Known for its beaches and theme parks, Florida may not be the first destination that comes to mind for hiking. However, the Sunshine State offers a surprising array of scenic trails and natural wonders waiting for you to discover. From coastal dunes and marshes to dense forests and crystal-clear springs, Florida has diverse landscapes providing ample opportunities for outdoor adventures.

After a day of exploring, return to Florida’s many inviting villa options, with some even providing easy access to nearby hiking trails. Aside from hiking, you can also explore charming towns like St. Augustine and Key West, unwind on pristine beaches in the Florida Keys or along the Gulf Coast, or paddle through scenic waterways in the Everglades or Ocala National Forest.

The Everglades National Park is an incredible hiking spot. It features the Anhinga Trail, a boardwalk trail with opportunities to spot alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife amidst the park’s unique ecosystem of sawgrass marshes and cypress swamps. For a more challenging hike, conquer the Shark Valley Trail, winding through the Everglades and providing panoramic views of the vast wilderness.

Venture into North Florida, home to the Apalachicola National Forest, which offers miles of scenic trails through pine flatwoods, hardwood forests, and wetlands. The Florida Trail, a 1,300-mile-long National Scenic Trail, traverses the lush forest, providing opportunities to explore diverse ecosystems and encounter wildlife such as deer, black bears, and migratory birds.

If you want to hike along coastal scenery, head to the Anastasia State Park near St. Augustine. Hike the Anastasia Island Trail, meandering through the park’s diverse habitats, offering stunning ocean views and birdwatching opportunities.

Whether exploring the Everglades, the Apalachicola National Forest, or the beaches of Anastasia State Park, your hiking adventure in the Sunshine State will leave you with memories to cherish forever.

  • Colorado

Colorado is a mecca for hiking enthusiasts, making it one of the best U.S. states to go hiking. Offering an abundance of scenic trails that traverse breathtaking mountain ranges, serene alpine lakes, and rugged wilderness areas, the Centennial State promises exceptional hiking adventures for everyone.

One iconic hiking destination in Colorado is Rocky Mountain National Park. Here, you can explore a vast network of trails that wind through pristine alpine meadows, towering forests, and majestic peaks. Trails like the Bear Lake Loop offer easy access to stunning vistas, while more challenging hikes like the Longs Peak Trail lead you to the summit of one of Colorado’s highest peaks.

For those seeking panoramic views of the iconic Maroon Bells, the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail near Aspen is a must-visit. This easy trail features spectacular views of the twin peaks reflected in the crystal-clear waters of Maroon Lake, making it one of the most photographed locations in Colorado.

In southwestern Colorado, the San Juan Mountains offer some of the state’s most scenic hiking trails. One is the Ice Lakes Trail near Silverton, which leads through a stunning alpine landscape with vibrant wildflowers and turquoise lakes. Meanwhile, the Highland Mary Lakes Trail offers a more challenging trek through lush forests and rocky terrain, rewarding you with panoramic views of the surrounding peaks.

Moreover, Colorado offers hiking opportunities beyond its majestic mountain ranges. The Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs boasts unique rock formations and scenic trails that wind through towering sandstone cliffs. On the other hand, the Mesa Verde National Park in the southwest is home to ancient cliff dwellings and scenic mesa-top trails that provide insight into the area’s rich cultural history.

Whether exploring Rocky Mountain National Park, the Maroon Bells, or the San Juan Mountains, you will be in awe of the diversity of Colorado’s hiking trails.

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Hi! I’m Jill, a Dallas, Texas girl traveling the world. After a career in the Air Force and touring over 50 countries later, my need to explore keeps going! It’s time to rock & roll and find all those places I never knew I was missing.

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