6 U.S. Hiking Trails You Need to Experience

With a diverse topography and numerous national parks, the United States is a hiker's paradise. Let these six incredible trails serve as inspiration for your next outing.

  1. Harding Icefield Trail: Get up close to Alaska's breathtaking glaciers by taking a life-changing trek in Kenai Fjords National Park. Weaving through stunning alpine meadows and varying types of native forests, this gorgeous trail offers unrivaled panoramic views of the massive Harding Icefield. Located about 125 miles south of Anchorage, the strenuous hike includes 1,000-foot increases in elevation every mile, so make sure you are in very good shape and hike with a group if possible.

  1. Mist Trail: One of the most celebrated hiking treks in all of Yosemite National Park, this trail winds along the 317-foot-high Vernal Fall and the 594-foot-high Nevada Fall. The trek to Vernal Fall includes a 2.4-mile round-trip hike, while the journey to Nevada Fall is a little over five miles, round-trip. Expect to get a little wet from all the mist and be sure to use caution during the summer months, since the trail can become slippery and a bit crowded.

  1. Rubicon Trail: The best way to soak up Lake Tahoe's sprawling 22,200-acre landscape, this famous 8-mile round-trip trail runs along the southwest shore of the lake, connecting Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss state parks. The Rubicon offers spectacular views of azure blue waters and rocky cliffs, while also providing plenty of opportunities for a refreshing swim along the way. Just remember the trail is only open from March to September, due to seasonal weather conditions.

  1. Ewoldsen Trail: Running through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, this gorgeous trek showcases California's varied topography in a single hike. The trail makes its way through grassy valleys, towering redwood groves, trickling clear-water creeks and majestic coastal mountains, which offer flawless views of the Pacific Ocean. Consistently voted one of the premier hiking destinations in Big Sur, Ewoldsen Trail is a round-trip journey of a little over five miles.

  1. Awa'awapuhi Trail: Countless travelers pay good money for boat excursions just to get a decent view of the famous coastal cliffs of Napali Coast State Wilderness Park in northwest Kauai Island, Hawaii. Fortunately, Awa'awapuhi Trail provides the same opportunity for land-based visitors. Much of the trail winds its way through the dense highland forest. Once you pop out into the lookout point, however, the dense flora gives way to mind-blowing views of rugged cliffs and the shimmering Pacific Ocean. Although the journey is all downhill, the way back can be a bit taxing, so be sure to conserve your water as you go.

  1. South Kaibab Trail: A premier winter hiking destination, this trek is one of the premier trails in Grand Canyon National Park and for good reason. According to the National Park Service (NPS), it's the only Canyon trail that dramatically holds true to a ridgeline descent. The path runs across ridges that jut out into the canyon, allowing for expansive vistas you can't see anywhere else. That said, the heights can be a bit daunting, and the trail offers no shade for summer hikes. The NPS warns not to venture past Skeleton Point for day hikes to avoid extreme heat.

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