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15 Best Trail Towns In The United States

Best Hiking Trail Towns

15 Best Trail Towns In The United States

Estimated reading time: 14 minutes

Hiking is a great hobby.

Virtually anyone can hike, no matter your experience or profession.

It costs much less than most other hobbies, lets you live a life of adventure, keeps you fit and feeling good, and helps you appreciate mother nature. 

Speaking of mother nature, you’ll enjoy more hiking benefits the further away from the city you go.

This is why avid hikers tend to scout their next vacation spot depending on the location’s trails. 

Discover These Trail Towns Today

I have hiked all around the world. 

And we can’t talk about hiking trails without talking about trail towns. Trail towns step up to provide necessary and useful services for tourists and adventurers.

If you’re looking for your next adventure destination (or town to move to), here’s a list of the 15 best trail towns in the USA – according to me. 

In no particular order:

Keene, New York: Unending Trails

Views of mountain and forests, while Hiking in Keene New York

Still Can’t Believe These Views Of Mountain & Forests, While Hiking In Keene New York

Keene is a small town located in Essex County, in the State of New York. It’s the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Enjoy your morning coffee while taking in the exquisite mountain top views.  

If you fancy some excitement on your morning jog, the Mount Marcy trailheads got you covered. Oh, and, did I mention that the Adirondack High Peaks are also located here? 

Perk: Low Traffic, Mountain Trails, Entirely Different Version of New York

Pub n Grub: Baxter Mountain Tavern 

Treat: Stewarts Shop

Gear: Hiking Boots, Wool Hiking Socks

My Favorite Trails: Indian Head and Rainbow Falls & Cascade Mountain Trail

Damascus, Virginia: Trail-friendly Community

Hiking in Damascus, Virginia

Hiking in Damascus, Virginia. This Place Was Vibes

Damascus is a small town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia. It’s one of the most trail-friendly communities out there and has even been called “Trail Town USA”.

If you’re looking to feast your eyes on the stunning beauty of mother nature, this is the perfect spot. 

Seven nationally acclaimed trails intersect within this trail town’s borders. One of the more famous trails is the Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail.

This trail takes you through nearly 33 miles of dense forest, open fields, and verdant waterways. 

The area around this trail town is also dotted with caves, waterfalls, and mountaintop views so there’s plenty of scenery to enjoy. 

Perk: Well Marked, Beautiful Views

Pub n Grub: 7 Trails Grill

Treat: Off The Beaten Path Ice Cream

Gear: GPS, Binoculars

Our Favorite Trails: Damascus Loop & Virginia Creeper Trail: Damascus to Whitetop

Cumberland, Maryland: Mountain Biking Destination 

Hiking near the Cumberland Gap in Maryland

Mountain Biking Near The Cumberland Gap in Maryland

This small city located in Northwest Maryland is fast becoming a regional cycling spot. While there are plenty of things to do in the city and its surrounding areas, it’s the city’s uninterrupted pathways and bike-friendly culture that attracts cyclists and hikers from all around. 

Cumberland is home to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park trail and Great Allegheny Passage – both contributing to the city’s growing reputation. 

Here are 11 Places To Visit For The Best Mountain Biking Experience.

Perk: Easy, Near the Lake, Great Fall Colors

Pub n Grub: Da Vinci Pizzeria

Treat: Queen City Creamery

Gear: Long Hiking Pants, Camera

Our Favorite Trails: Rocky Gap Canyon & Rocky Trail Loop

Fairbanks, Alaska: Perfect Days & Painted Skies

Hiking to Chena Hot Springs in Fairbanks Alaska

Hiking To Chena Hot Springs In Fairbanks Alaska. Alaska Is Different

To some, Fairbanks, Alaska is the be all end all place for adventure. Fairbanks is known as the perfect outdoor adventure basecamp and we’re inclined to agree. 

This trail town is home to Denali National Park. Intrepid adventurers can also pack up and cross the arctic circle. 

With the painted night skies (courtesy of Aurora Borealis), several hiking trails, and mountain views, it’s no wonder people from all walks of life come to Fairbanks for some outdoor fun.

Perk: True Wilderness, Long Summer Days, Minimal People

Pub n Grub: Pump House Restaurant & Saloon

Treat: The Fudge Pot

Gear: GPS, Bear Spray, Shemagh

Our Favorite Trails: Granite Tors Loop & Chena Hot Springs via Angels Rock Trail

Marquette, Michigan: Tourist & Hikers Hub

Forest hike in Marquette, Michigan

Forest Hike In Marquette, Michigan. Had No Idea Michigan Was This Pretty

Marquette, Michigan is located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Don’t let its size fool you as this town is a bustling hub of activity and adventure for tourists and outdoors people. 

This trail town is home to the Iron Ore Heritage Trail which stretches 47 miles across the Marquette Iron Range and connects with the Marquette Multi-use Path.  

Perk: Low Traffic, Picturesque, Plenty of Water Around

Pub n Grub: Aubree’s Pizzeria & Grill or Iron Bay Restaurant & Drinkery

Treat: Donckers

Gear: Lifestraw, GPS, Good Hiking Socks

Our Favorite Trails: Iron Ore Heritage Trail, Hogback Mountain North Trail & Bareback Trails Loop

Bend, Oregon: Dog Friendliest Town

waterfall near a trail outside of bend oregon

Found A Waterfall Near A Trail Outside Of Bend Oregon

Bend, Oregon is a small town located near an extinct volcano. The town itself, although “small” by category, spans a sizable area and encompasses several different hiking trails. 

Another great thing about Bend is that it’s been voted as one of the Dog Friendliest Cities in the country, and has maintained that reputation for years. 

Perk: Dogs, Waterfalls, Dense Forests

Pub n Grub: Pisano’s Woodfired Pizza 

Treat: Bonta Natural Artesian Gelato

Gear: Torrentshell Jacket, Wool Hiking Socks, Garmin InReach

Our Favorite Trails: Bend Glacier and No Name Lake & Tumalo Falls via Tumalo Creek Trail

Dayton, Ohio: Definition of a Trail Town

Hiking over a creek near Dayton Ohio

Hiking Near Dayton Ohio And Found This Picturesque Creek

This trail town offers all the comforts of home coupled with endless possibilities for outdoor adventure.  

Dayton, Ohio is home to the Great Miami River Trail. This 86 mile long trail passes through Dayton, Troy, Piqua, and several more. 

The town itself offers various other attractions with historical, culinary, or cultural value. You’d be hard-pressed to find yourself bored while in Dayton. 

Perk: Plenty To Do, Fishing, Food

Pub n Grub: Jimmie’s Ladder

Treat: Graeter’s Ice Cream

Gear: GPS, Hiking Backpack, Shemagh

Our Favorite Trails: Ghost Hedge Nature Trail & Great Miami River Trail

Durango, Colorado: Come for the Trails, Stay for the Heritage

Hiking on the Colorado trail near Durango Colorado

Tommy B Hiking On The Colorado Trail Near Durango Colorado

Durango, Colorado is another small but beautiful trail town that’s home to 50+ local trails stretching well over 300 miles. 

It offers plenty of opportunity for outdoor activities beyond hiking, like wakeboarding and rafting on Lake Nighthorse. Durango is also home to Mesa Verde National Park.

What sets Durango apart, though, are the locals’ efforts to preserve the ancient Pueblo heritage. 

Perk: Watersports, Stargazing, Mountain Biking

Pub n Grub: Derailed Pour House

Treat: Michel’s Corner Crepes

Gear: Walking Sticks, First Aid Kit, GPS

Our Favorite Trails: Purgatory Trail, Colorado Trail to Gudy’s Rest & Cascade Creek East Fork

Moab, UT: Desert Adventure 

Hiking Trail Near The Green River Moab Utah

Hiking A Trail Near The Green River Moab Utah And Enjoying The Shade

Moab, UT is a little town perfectly situated between the rock gardens of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Because of this, it attracts adventurers of various tastes, such as bikers, rafters, climbers, and (of course) hikers. 

Particularly worthy of note is Salt Creek Canyon which can take up to four days to explore. 

Perk: Petroglyphs, Biking, Endless Hiking Trails

Pub n Grub: Thai Bella

Treat: Moab Garage Co

Gear: Lifestraw, Hydration Bladder, Dakine Day Pack, GPS, Shemagh

Our Favorite Trails: Dead Horse Rim Loop Trail, Professor Creek & Mary Jane Canyon Trail, Lathrop Canyon Trail

South Lake Tahoe, California: Beachfront Walkways & Mountain Trails

South Lake Tahoe, Mount Tallac

Trying To Spot Our Cabin In South Lake Tahoe, From Mount Tallac

South Lake Tahoe, California has seen a steady increase in population recently due to the growing number of people looking to settle down there. 

I don’t visit Tahoe (city) much anymore because the traffic has gotten ridiculous and people seem agitated. Probably due to all the traffic and tourists. Imagine San Francisco in the mountains.

Gross, right?

That said, it is still very popular, and once upon a time was an awesome place to visit.

If you dig ski-trips or water sports, South Lake Tahoe offers both in endless supply. This trail town offers quick access to lake front walkways and mountain trails for hikers, bikers, skiers and horseback riders.

The mountain bikers seem to be cut from a different cloth here. Almost any mountain biker you see on the trails are polite, say hello and let you know if anybody else is following behind. Kudos to the South Lake Tahoe mountain bikers. You guys are awesome!

Perk: Weather, Scenery, Wildlife

Pub n Grub: Blue Dog Pizza

Treat: The Baked Bear

Gear: GPS, Camera, Day Pack

Our Favorite Trails: Mt Tallac, Lake Aloha from Echo Lake, Tamarack Lake, Ralston Peak, Eagle Lake Loop

Flagstaff, AZ: Red Rock Country

Hiking Trail In Flagstaff Arizona

Hiking Trail In Flagstaff Arizona About An Hour Before A Thunderstorm

Flagstaff, AZ is the gateway to the Grand Canyon. This small city is located at the foot of the San Francisco Peaks and attracts backpackers, mountaineers, and river runners from around the globe. 

This trail town is home to the Boucher Hermit Loop which stretches up to 23 miles.

Perk: High Desert, Forests, Bouldering

Pub n Grub: Proper Meats + Provisions

Treat: Sugar Mamas

Gear: GPS, Binoculars, Day Pack

Our Favorite Trails: Humphreys Peak, Boucher Hermit Loop, Elden Lookout Trail, Inner Basin Trail, Sunset Trail to Brookbank Trail Loop

Asheville, North Carolina: Affordable Living and Picturesque Trails

Trail Near Asheville North Carolina

Wandering A Trail Near Asheville North Carolina

Asheville, North Carolina is the perfect trail town if you’re looking for a more affordable place to go. It has a cost of living that’s 4% below the national average and, for several years now, has been ranked in the top 10 places to live and retire in. 

This trail town is home to the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains National Park trails. Make sure to visit the waterfalls while you’re in the area. 

Perk: Laid Back, Low Traffic, Friendly, Gorgeous

Pub n Grub: New Belgium Brewing Company

Treat: The Chocolate Fetish

Gear: GPS, Hydration Bladder, Sunglasses, Shemagh

Our Favorite Trails: Hard Times Road Trail, Bent Creek Network: Ingles Field Gap Loop Trail, Coffee Pot Mountain Loop Trail

Whitefish, MT: The Bob’s Million Acres

Glacier National Park, Whitefish Montana

Admiring Glacier National Park, Whitefish Montana

Whitefish, Montana is the quintessential backpacker paradise thanks to Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshal Wilderness Complex. 

With so many outdoorsy people attracted to this town, don’t be surprised to find world champion outdoor athletes sharing your table at the local pub. 

The Bob Marshall Wilderness, aka The Bob, offers endless adventuring potential with its one million acres of giant rivers, cliffs, and peaks.

Perk: It’s Montana, Minimal Traffic, Intense Trails

Pub n Grub: Tupelo Grill

Treat: Sweet Peaks Ice Cream

Gear: GPS, First Aid Kid, Bear Spray

Our Favorite Trails: Beaver Lakes via Lion Mountain Trail, Stanton Mountain Trail, Big Mountain via Summit Trail, Whitefish Valley Lookout

Auburn, California: The Endurance Capitol

Auburn State Rec Area

Found A Pond In The Auburn State Recreation Area

This was an area I spent a lot of time in when I lived in California.

Back then there was minimal traffic on the trails, and everybody and their step-mom didn’t think they were an instagram celebrity.

Parking sucks if you want to visit one of the more popular trails, and there will be people. However, everyone is usually in a good mood.

We typically do trails more on the outskirts, longer, and not for the faint of heart, which means it doesn’t matter how many insta famous hikers are around, you wont see them if you pick the right trails.

Believe it or not, this area of California has A LOT of bears and mountain lions, so be alert. Take in the scenery, fresh air and listen the rivers.

Very cool area, and the locals tend to be friendly. 

Perk: Endless Trails, Wildlife, Bike Friendly

Pub n Grub: Dingus McGees

Treat: Ikedas

Gear: GPS, First Aid Kit, Shemagh, Survival Stick

Our Favorite Trails: Training Hill From Robie Point Trail, Pioneer Express Trail, Western States Trail

North Conway, New Hampshire

Cathedral Ledge, North Conway New Hampshire

Cathedral Ledge, North Conway New Hampshire

Spent plenty of time mountain biking and hiking in New Hampshire. Never would have thought of it as an adventure location, because let’s face it, how often do you hear anything about New Hampshire? Well, I’ve got to reveal one of their little secrets, this is an outdoorsy state with plenty of outdoor adventures to be had. 

Perk: The Post Hike Grub, Low Population Density, Long Mystical Trails

15 Best Trail Towns In The United States Pin It ImagePub n Grub: May Kelly’s Cottage Restaurant & Pub

Treat: Old Village Bakery

Gear: GPS, First Aid Kit, Hydration Bladder

Our Favorite Trails: Red Ridge Trail, Black Cap, Via Black Cap Connector, North Moat Mountain Trail

That will do it for this one.

Remember, things happen on the trail, here are 7 Ways to Treat Common Long-Trail Aches & Pains.

And regardless of trail length, this is What Gear To Bring On A Day Hike.

Wishing you a great adventure, and a healthy life.

Team AdventureHacks!

I'm David Aston, Founding Nomad of AdventureHacks, Inc. My mission is to inspire adventure on the ground, in the water and through the air. If I also happen to inspire you to purchase gear, my team and I plant a tree in its native environment for every order.

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