7 of America’s Most Stunning Trails to Hike Right Now
Be warned: These gorgeous photos of our National Scenic Trails may fill you with the irresistible urge to dust off your boots and backpack and get moving.
This breathtaking trail begins at the Utah border and extends to Mexico. Over its 800-mile stretch, you’ll see deserts, lakes, mountains, and canyons, as well as a jaw-dropping array of cultural and historic landmarks like the Grand Canyon, Colossal Cave, White Canyon, Roosevelt Dam, Kentucky Camp mining and ranching site, and former logging railroads near Mormon Lake. Want to explore the beauty of the American West? Get more info about an amazing travel experience to America’s Cowboy Country here.
Ice Age Trail
This Wisconsin trail winds through 1,000 miles of craggy terrain shaped by glaciers. Ice masses from 2.5 million years ago have left behind all shapes and sizes of intriguing rock deposits—dolomite, sandstone, basalt buffs, and quartzite. The Ice Age Trail is especially good for winter sports lovers: In cold months, you can snowshoe or cross-country ski along portions. However, cyclists should go in warmer months; they can ride on an adjacent bike trail.
Think of this trail as a vast, all-natural, meandering theme park that covers 1,300 miles. The moderate-level route begins in the everglade landscape in Northern Florida and ends on the state’s sandy Southern beaches. Keep your camera close because the the trail is full of such wildlife as storks, flamingos, pelicans, tree frogs, butterflies, panthers, alligators, turtles, iguanas, and snakes. Bonus: Because of the trail’s location in the Sunshine State location, you can hike year-round.
Continental Divide Trail
This trail, which was created in 1962 and is scheduled to be completed by 2017, will eventually extend 3,100 miles (all but 32 are already finished). It has an important goal: To preserve the West as a living museum. The trail begins at the Canada-Montana border and ends in Mexico, after passing through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. The trail is known to be one of the most difficult, most remote, and highest of the National Scenic Trails. It includes many different climate zones, ranging from snowy mountains to arid deserts.
Pacific Crest Trail
The 2,650-mile trail may be best known as the one that writer Cheryl Strayed used to challenge herself in the memoir (and movie) Wild. It begins in the E.C. Manning Provincial Park near the Canada-Washington border and ends at the California-Mexico border in the town of Campo. This is not a trail for anyone queasy about heights—it passes through some of the highest parts of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges.
New England Trail
A baby among the National Scenic Trails—it was created in 2009—the New England Trail stretches for 215 miles in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It begins at the Massachusetts-New Hampshire border and ends at the Long Island Sound in the Nutmeg State. Hikers will be treated to a variety of classic, charming New England vistas: small towns, farmland, river valleys, forests, green mountains, and wetlands.
Pacific Northwest Trail
At 1,200 miles long, this moderate-to-strenuous trail snakes through three national parks and seven national forests throughout Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Absolute musts before you embark on a hike of the damp Northwest: waterproof boots, poncho, and extra pairs of socks.
America’s Greatest Hiking Trails
The book America’s Greatest Hiking Trails, recently published by Rizzoli, details 33 other trails, covering a total of 49 states. The book offers descriptions of each trail’s highlights, along with maps. Learn more and buy the book here.