Some of the absolute best hiking trails found anywhere in the U.S. are inside America’s national parks, These iconic destinations, spread out across the country, often have miles of trail to wander, giving hikers a brag-worthy experience to share with friends and family. But with so many trails to choose from, it can be difficult to pick which ones are worth your time and effort. Thankfully, we’ve had some expertise in this area and can recommend a few trails that aren’t likely to disappoint. With that in mind, these are our ten best national park hikes that every traveler should have on his or her bucket list.
Bright Angel Trail (Grand Canyon)
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is home to one of the most classic hikes in all of North America. The 12-mile roundtrip walk along Bright Angel Trail provides stunning views of the canyon and the surrounding landscape, which is among the most iconic and well-known in all of the world. The walk can be a strenuous one at times, but it is also a very rewarding one too. No matter when you go, always bring plenty of water, as staying hydrated can be a constant battle in the always-dry and often warm environment.
Navajo Loop (Bryce Canyon)
Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park offers some of the most unique landscapes that you’ll find anywhere, and one of the best trails to explore that environment on is the 3-mile long Navajo Loop. Starting at Sunset Point and running out to a place called the “main amphitheater,” this trail takes hikers past some of the more scenic elements in the entire park. And because it isn’t particularly long, you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to it, providing more free time explore other areas of Bryce Canyon too.
Sargent Mountain Loop (Acadia National Park)
As one of the preeminent wilderness areas in the entire eastern United States, Acadia National Park in Maine is a wonderful escape for many hikers. One of the top trekking routes found there is the Sargent Mountain Loop, a 5.5-mile round-trip walk that takes visitors to the summit of the 1,373-foot peak from which it derives its name. Sargent Mountain is one of the main landmarks found inside the park and at the top you’ll be treated to outstanding views of the Acadia coastline, as well as the lush forests of spruce and fir that are common throughout the area.
John Muir Trail (Multiple Parks)
In terms of sheer beauty, few hiking routes in the world can match California’s John Muir Trail, which passes through parts of Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks along its 211-mile path. The route, which is actually part of the much larger Pacific Crest Trail, offers numerous day hikes or can be tackled end-to-end for a true backcountry adventure. Breathtaking vistas, crystal clear streams, and peaceful solitude are the norm here as backpackers find their way through the High Sierra Mountains. This is a truly remote, rugged, and challenging walk, so be sure to be well prepared before setting out.
Continue to 5 of 10 below.05of 10
Grinnell Glacier Trail (Glacier National Park)
Montana is a state filled with beautiful scenery, but Glacier National Park just might hold the crown for the most scenic location of them all. To get a true look at what this park has to offer, take a stroll along the 11-mile round-trip Grinnell Glacier Trail, which takes hikers out to an overlook that provides spectacular views of some of the parks namesake features. This trail is only open from July to September, but it is a can’t-miss walk during those summer months when the weather is at its absolute best.
Hawksbill Loop Trail (Shenandoah National Park)
At just 3 miles in length, the Hawksbill Loop Trail in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park may not seem very long, but it packs plenty of punch. The route wanders along part of the legendary Appalachian Trail on its way to the top of Hawksbill—the highest point in the park at just over 4,000 feet in altitude. Along the way, hikers will likely spot plenty of wildlife as they wander upwards toward the summit. Once there, they’ll discover a stone platform that offers views of thick forests and rolling hills that stretch all the way to the horizon.
Upper Yosemite Falls (Yosemite National Park)
California’s Yosemite National Park is well known for its spectacular waterfalls, which are numerous and impressive. None are more awe-inspiring than Yosemite Falls however, which holds the distinction of being the tallest in North America. If you’re up for a challenging hike, taking the trail to the top of the falls is a good way to stretch the legs. You’ll climb more than 2,700 feet in just 3.5 miles, but the reward is an amazing view of Yosemite Creek as it tumbles over the rock face right at your feet. The views of the surrounding landscapes aren’t bad either, so don’t be surprised if they take your breath away.
Zion Narrows (Zion National Park)
For a hike unlike any other, leave the traditional dirt trails behind and take a stroll through the Zion Narrows in Zion National Park located in Utah. The route follows a series of slot canyons through the backcountry, with the official route running about 16 miles in length round-trip. There are numerous offshoots to be explored however and it can be fun to indulge your sense of exploration and adventure. Just be sure you know how to navigate, as the place can feel like a maze at times. The Narrows are made up of a series of twisty passageways that spiderweb across the landscape, beckoning those who love to get lost in the backcountry. Be sure to bring a pair of water shoes or sports sandals for this hike, as the canyon floor is often covered by a rushing river.
Continue to 9 of 10 below.09of 10
Greenstone Ridge Trail (Isle Royal National Park)
Isle Royal National Park is unique in that the entire preserve exists on an isolated island in the middle of Lake Superior in Michigan. Just to get there, hikers must first catch a daily ferry that will shuttle them to the remote location. The ferry drops hikers off at the start of the 40-mile long Greenstone Ridge Trail, which runs west to east through the wild center of the national park. Surprisingly, there is plenty of wildlife to spot on Isle Royal, including moose, deer, and wolves, so keep your eyes peeled as you. The trek is a scenic one too, often offering prime views of the Lake Superior shoreline along the way. This is a spectacular walk through a national park that most people don’t even know exists, let alone consider visiting. Still, the trail can get crowded during the busy season, although it never detracts from the experience.
Guadalupe Peak Trail (Guadalupe Mountains National Park)
Texas is well known for its dry desert landscapes in the west, thick forests in the east, and rolling hill country in the center. But did you know that it is also home to a mountain that stands more than 8750-feet in height? The Guadalupe Peak Trail, located in the Guadalupe Mountains National Park, winds its way to the top of that mountain, adding more than 3000 feet of vertical gain – spread out over 8.4 miles – along the way. At the top, hikers discover a view as big as Texas itself, with dramatic vistas to be seen in all directions. It is a strenuous hike, but a surprisingly good one, with some great payoffs along the way.