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Explore the hiking trails of the U.S.
The landscapes of the United States are as diverse as her people, and these ten hikes offer some of the most spectacular scenery around. Explore the wild beauty from Oregon on the West Coast to Maine on the East Coast and everything in between.
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The Appalachian Trail extends 2,180 miles, passing through 14 states, all the way from Maine to Georgia. Each year, an elite group of hikers, called 2000 milers, attempt to hike the entire length in a single season. Out of thousands, only one in four make it.
Luckily, the continuously marked trail offers hundreds of access points, making it convenient (and free) for day hikers.
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Half Dome Hike in Yosemite National Park, California
Hikers seeking a challenging day trek need look no further than Yosemite National Park's Half Dome, one of the park's most recognizable landmarks. The 7-mile round trip from Little Yosemite Valley campground includes an adrenaline-pumping 400-foot cable ascent up the granite face of Half Dome to the summit.
This hike is so popular that the park only offers limited permits via lottery to hike the cable section.
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Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, Utah
Angel's Landing is not a hike for the faint of heart, but as one of Zion National Park's most popular trails, it has everything a thrill-seeking day hiker could hope for: steep ascents (1,500 feet along the 2.5-mile hike), 21 exposed switchbacks called Walter's Wiggles and 360-degree views over the surrounding canyon, riverbeds and piñon forests.
The chains section near the end of Angel's Landing is currently closed due to COVID-19, but other parts of the trail remain accessible.
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Parkman Mountain Trail in Acadia National Park, Maine
Hikers who make the 2.2-mile trek with a 500-foot elevation change to the top of Parkman Mountain in Maine's Acadia National Park will be rewarded with panoramic views over the Somes Sound and Sargent Mountain. The hike itself is moderate, with a good variety of terrain and a few steep sections along the way.
Hiking in the autumn months means plenty of fall foliage to enjoy along the path to the top.
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Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana
The 11-mile round trip Grinnell Glacier Trail takes you past the brilliant blue waters of Lake Josephine and Grinnell Lake, through fields of wildflowers and up onto Grinnell Glacier itself. The hike starts off relatively flat before starting to gently slope, eventually ascending 1,600 feet.
The trail is currently closed due to COVID-19, but we look forward to it re-opening when it's deemed safe. In the meantime, we can daydream.
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Emerald Lake Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Colorado is a hiker's paradise, and this hike past some of Rocky Mountain National Park's most picturesque lakes takes you 3.6 miles round-trip from the Bear Lake Trailhead. With an easy elevation change of only 685 feet, even novice hikers can make the journey in a day, and you'll get to enjoy views of Glacier Gorge, Nymph and Dream Lakes, as well as Flattop and Hallett Peaks along the way.
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Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge is closed as of this writing due to fire damage, but hikers will have much to look forward to when it reopens.
Depending on how far one hikes, visitors will pass a half-dozen major waterfalls along a path that was blasted through the cliffs by resourceful Italian engineers more than a century ago. For a moderate day hike, take the trail as far as Tunnel Falls, or for a challenging 12 miles with a 1,200-foot elevation gain, continue on to Punchbowl Falls.
Either way, you'll be hiking one of Oregon's most beautiful stretches of trail, and only 40 minutes outside of Portland.
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Grandfather Trail in Grandfather Mountain State Park in North Carolina
The slow, strenuous 2.4-mile hike to Calloway Peak will test your strength and endurance as you pull yourself up hand over hand or use cables and ladders in some steeper sections. All of that effort will be rewarded with a view described by naturalist John Muir as "the face of all Heaven come to earth."
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Kalalau Trail on Kauai, Hawaii
Come to the Hawaiian island of Kauai for the white sand beaches and clear, fauna-filled waters, but stay for the hiking. If you can tear yourself away from the water long enough to brave the treacherous 11-mile Kalalau Trail, you'll find yourself in the midst of the verdant cliffs of the isolated Kalalau Valley, accessible only by foot or kayak.
The coastal trail drops off more than 300 feet into rocky surf in some places, so only hike with good shoes and hiking poles during dry weather.
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South Rim Loop in Big Bend National Park, Texas
They say that everything's bigger in Texas, and Big Bend National Park's South Rim Loop is indeed a big one as far as hiking trails go. The 12.6-mile loop includes a 2,000-foot elevation change, with plenty of campsites scattered along the way in case you'd prefer to make the loop a backpacking trip instead of a long day hike.
From the South Rim overlook, you can see for miles in any direction over the arid Texas terrain.