Endless Wall Trail Named Best National Park Hike

Cadillac Mountain, Kilauea Iki Trail, Hoh River Trail and Ramsey Cascades also winners.

Warmer weather means hiking season is upon us, and USA TODAY 10Best went on a quest to find the best national park hikes from coast to coast. For four weeks, readers voted for their favorite hikes, and now the votes have been counted and we have a winner.

  • Highline Trail
    Glacier National Park

    The 15.2-mile round-trip trek along the Highline Trail is one of the most popular day hikes in Glacier National Park, and for good reason. As the trail hugs the Garden Wall ridge along the continental divide for most of its length, and the views at every turn are breathtaking. At the Granite Park Trail Junction, hikers can continue on to the historic Granite Park Chalet, built in 1914, to stay the night or turn around and head back down the trail.
    Photo courtesy of wplynn / Flickr

  • Upper Geyser Basin
    Yellowstone National Park

    Old Faithful is arguably the most famous attraction in Yellowstone National Park, and while it's popular for a reason, the rest of the Upper Geyser Basin and Firehole River are well worth the visit as well. Yellowstone is home to 60 percent of the world's geysers, some 150 of them located within one square mile of Upper Geyser Basin. Several trails take hikers past five major geysers, several smaller ones, numerous hot springs and one newly developed mudpot.
    Photo courtesy of lorcel

  • Angels Landing
    Zion National Park

    One of the world's most renowned hikes, Angels Landing trail in Zion National Park culminates in spectacular views of Zion Canyon from a tall rock formation 1,488 feet above the canyon below. The 5-mile round-trip hike follows the Virgin River before taking hikers on a series of steep switchbacks known as Walter's Wiggles. The final half-mile leg is steep with drop-offs to either side, but chains bolted to the rock provide sure handholds and the view from the top makes it worth the climb.
    Photo courtesy of nickrlake

  • Bright Angel Trail
    Grand Canyon National Park

    Considered the premier hiking trail of Grand Canyon National Park, Bright Angel takes hikers on a 9.5-mile (one-way) trek from rim to river, a feat on many a hiker's bucket list. While it's possible to descend and ascend again along the same path, many visitors choose to take Bright Angel one way and the equally spectacular South Kaibab Trail the other. Two campgrounds along the trail make it convenient to split the hike into multiple days.
    Photo courtesy of Grand Canyon National Park

  • The Narrows
    Zion National Park

    The Narrows in Zion National Park takes hikers through the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. Variable in length up to 16 miles, the hike winds along the Virgin River, requiring a knee-deep-in-water journey through a gorge with walls topping out at 1,000 feet. It's considered one of the world's best canyon hikes, and it can be tailored to fit hikers of many ability levels.
    Photo courtesy of Christopher Michel / Flickr

  • Ramsey Cascades- Great Smoky Mountains Nat. Park

    Ramsey Cascades – the tallest waterfall in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park – plummets 100 feet over a series of rock outcroppings into a small pool below. The 4-mile one-way hike to Ramsey Cascades climbs some 2,000 feet as it winds along rivers and streams and passes through 2 miles of old growth hardwood forest.
    Photo courtesy of National Park Service

  • Hoh River Trail
    Olympic National Park

    Passing through temperate rainforest, subalpine meadow and montane forest, the Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park winds for 17.4 miles from the trailhead to Glacier Meadows. The easy and well-maintained trail climbs through moss-draped rainforest along riverside switchbacks, and while it can get crowded, the wild green magic of the Hoh Rainforest makes it worth enduring the crowds.
    Photo courtesy of Kgrr / Wikimedia Commons

  • Kilauea Iki Trail
    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

    In 1959 the Kilauea Iki volcano erupted to a height of 1,900 feet. Today, visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can hike the 4-mile Kilauea Iki Trail loop to the still-steaming Kilauea Iki Crater lava lake. The well-marked path leads through lush Hawaiian rainforest along the crater rim, with informational stops along the way that tell the story of the 1959 eruption.
    Photo courtesy of National Park Service

  • Cadillac Mountain
    Acadia National Park

    The 4.4-mile round-trip hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain along the North Ridge Trail in Acadia National Park takes hikers along the mostly bare rock of the mountain with largely unobstructed views of Bar Harbor and Frenchman Bay. The trek to the top ends at the 1,528-foot summit of the highest peak in the park – a popular location for watching the sunrise.
    Photo courtesy of Gary Brownell / Flickr

  • Endless Wall Trail- New River Gorge National River

    The New River Gorge National River, managed by the National Park Service, is home to the highly underrated Endless Wall Trail. This moderate 2.4-mile walk begins in the forests of the park before crossing Fern Creek and zig-zagging along a cliff edge overlooking the New River. The trail is dotted with scenic overlooks, including the breathtaking overlook at Diamond Point. From there, hikers can retrace their steps or continue to trail's end and hike for another half mile along a road to the starting point.
    Photo courtesy of Gary Hartley / National Park Service

It was a close race between the top two nominees, but in the end, Endless Wall Trail inside New River Gorge National River, managed by the National Park Service, came out on top. Runner-up Cadillac Mountain has long been one of the most popular spots in Maine's Acadia National Park.

The top 10 winners in the category Best National Park Hike are as follows:

  1. Endless Wall Trail- New River Gorge National River
  2. Cadillac Mountain - Acadia National Park
  3. Kilauea Iki Trail - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  4. Hoh River Trail - Olympic National Park
  5. Ramsey Cascades- Great Smoky Mountains Nat. Park
  6. The Narrows - Zion National Park
  7. Bright Angel Trail - Grand Canyon National Park
  8. Angels Landing - Zion National Park
  9. Upper Geyser Basin - Yellowstone National Park
  10. Highline Trail - Glacier National Park

A panel of experts picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Greg Miller (American Hiking Society), Michael Lanza (The Big Outside), Lisa Maloney (Hiking Expert at About.com), Diana Gerstacker (The Active Times) and Karen Catchpole and Eric Mohl (Trans-Americas Journey) were chosen based on their extensive knowledge of hiking and outdoor recreation in the U.S.

Additional nominees included Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park, Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, Nevada Falls Loop in Yosemite National Park, Cascade Canyon Trail in Grand Teton National Park, Queens Garden & Navajo in Bryce Canyon National Park, Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Fern Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, Upper Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park and Civil War Defenses of Washington in Rock Creek Park, operated by the National Park Service.

10Best and USA TODAY extend their congratulations to all the winners. The contest was promoted on 10Best and USA TODAY.

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Greg Miller

Greg Miller

Michael Lanza

Michael Lanza

Lisa Maloney

Lisa Maloney

Diana Gerstacker

Diana Gerstacker

Karen Catchpole and Eric Mohl

Karen Catchpole and Eric Mohl

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