Thanks to the National Trails System, there are some 135,000 miles of plotted walking trails in the United States.
With safe passages through some of the most breathtaking scenery the world has to offer, there are not enough superlatives to describe the pure pleasure of a trekking holiday in the US. But we’ve given it a go anyway.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
Hawaii is a paradise from almost any angle, but there are few better spots than the bird’s eye view from the Kalalau Path. The scintillating coastline of Kauai’s Nā Pali Coast Wilderness Park throws up otherworldly views of tropical valleys, gushing waterfalls, dramatic peaks and turquoise waters.
The 11-mile trail takes you along the impressive Kalalau Beach. Joining two volcanic ridges at either end, this challenging five-day hike is well worth the effort. If you don’t have that much time or stamina, however, you can always do a 2-mile day trip to Hanakapi’ai Beach.
Ansel Adams Wilderness, Sierra Nevada, California
Boasting 2,650 miles of stunning scenery, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is the mother of all walking routes. Starting from southern California near the border of Mexico, the PCT stretches the entire length of America’s east coast all the way to Canada.
Among the highlights is the Ansel Adams Wilderness, a 350-mile stretch between John Muir Wilderness to the south and Yosemite national park to the north.
The trail passes through the Thousand Lake area, one of the most scenic regions in the Eastern Sierra. The draw is undoubtedly Banner Peak, a colossal 12,936 ft mountain that reflects in the clear blue waters of the Lake.
Nugget Falls Trail, Tongass National Forest, Alaska
For hikers that enjoy a one-day steady hike, a trip to the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska is a smart choice. The trail cuts through the stunning Tongass National Forest, a nature lover’s paradise which is ideal for all the family.
If you need to entertain young children whilst walking in nature, keep a lookout for bald eagles, salmon and grizzly bears. There are also caves to explore together with dense forests, meadows and creeks. And that’s before you even get to the glacier waterfall.
Buckskin Gulch, Kane County, Utah
Utah has a wealth of fascinating slot canyons to explore, and whilst others are more challenging, Buckskin Gulch in Southern Utah is the longest, deepest and most interesting.
The 12-miles of meandering passageways wind through towering red sand rocks that are characteristic of the region. But what makes the canyons even more spectacular are the dark swirls and curvy rock formations carved out by floods over millennia.
This otherworldly trail is recommended for intermediate to advanced hikers. The searing desert heat can dehydrate you quickly, so you a hiker’s drinking strategy for this sort of terrain is essential. Flash floods are also possible, so check the weather forecast before heading out.
Appalachian Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
The 2,190 mile trip along the Appalachian Trail between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine takes around 6-months to complete but to get a sneak peek of this mammoth trail, head to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. It’s mountainous and smoky. What more do you need to create a mystical ambience?
This stretch is so revered for its wealth of natural beauty and bio-diversity, even ecologists and geologists come here to perform their research. And if you intend to hang around for a few days or more, there are still some 94 miles of walking trails to explore.