7 Epic Hiking Trails In 7 Amazing US National Parks
Sometimes you just want to lace up your hiking boots, zip up your backpack, and go for a hike.
With so many trails to choose from, it’s often difficult to choose one before you run out of vacation time.
Fortunately, you won’t need to look too far away as there are thousands of great hiking trails waiting for you in over 400 US National Parks.
With over 84.6 million acres of land managed by the NPS (National Park Service), there’s an amazing hiking trail for everyone.
Where should you start?
Trek These Amazing Trails
If you’re having trouble choosing from the countless amazing national park trails, you’re in the right place.
I’ve listed the top 7 best hiking trails which you should try from various National Parks around the country.
I made sure to include trails for hikers of every level so there’s bound to be one right for you.
1. Redwood National Park: The Emerald Mile
Redwood National Park can be found 325 miles north of San Francisco in one of the most beautiful and magical regions of the entire country.
While the park may be named for its giant, and ancient redwood trees, its unique climate supports various ecosystems stretching across its shorelines, alluvial flats, and prairies.
Visitors not only enjoy its giant trees but also its rocky beaches (complete with sea lions), coastal deltas and gorges, and fields of wildflowers.
While the park sports several notable trails, one of the most notable has to be the Emerald Mile.
Being only one mile, this trail is perfect for beginners just getting into hiking. What the trail doesn’t offer much in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality.
Where else can you walk through dense stands of the tallest trees (and largest living things) on earth?
Gazing up at the 300+ foot-tall giant redwoods along the Emerald Mile helps you appreciate the majestic beauty of nature.
2. Olympic National Park: Hoh River Trail (to Cougar Creek)
Olympic National Park is found on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest. It spreads across three distinct ecosystems from temperate rainforests, the Pacific coast, and glacier-capped mountains. Visitors of the park can immerse themselves in over 12,000 years of culture and history.
One of the park’s most notable trails is the Hoh River Trail which takes you to Cougar Creek.
While the full trail stretches 17.4 miles from the trailhead at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center to Glacier Meadows, it’s the trail leading to Cougar Creek that lets you dive into the green heart of the Hoh Rain Forest.
This trail meanders beneath the canopy of old-growth Sitka spruce and bigleaf maple.
You may be surprised to find that the ever-present sound of the gushing river falls silent at approximately 3.2 miles in.
This is the One Square Inch of Silence which, according to preservationists, is the quietest place in the country.
3. Zion National Park: Zion Narrows
Zion National Park is in southwest Utah.
Zion Canyon Scenic Drive cuts through the park’s distinguishable steep red cliffs and leads to forest trails along the Virgin River which flows into the Emerald Pools and features waterfalls and a hanging garden.
It’s along this river where you’ll find the Zion Narrows.
The Zion Narrows, also known to some as “Wall Street”, is likely different than any other trail you’ve experienced.
This is because the trail follows a series of classic slot canyons through the backcountry for a total of sixteen miles — much of it through waist-deep water.
The trail gives way to several offshoots that can take you in all sorts of directions. While this is great for those with a sense of adventure and exploration, wading through the sometimes maze-like narrows is only recommended for those with honed navigation skills.
4. Bryce Canyon National Park: Navajo Loop
Another amazing hiking trail found in Utah is the Navajo Loop Trail. This trail can be found in Bryce Canyon National Park.
The park itself is found in southern Utah and is known for its crimson-colored hoodoos (rock spires).
The 1.5 mile Navajo Loop trail sees constant heavy traffic of visitors. The moderate trail offers scenic views for hikers and nature viewers alike. It begins at Sunset Point and meanders down into the main amphitheater.
If 1.5 miles seems too short a trail for you, you can always combine the Navajo Loop with the Queens Garden Trail to create a longer and more varied loop.
It’s best to take the trail between June and October as it tends to become difficult during the winter.
Also, remember to be mindful of loose rocks that you’re stepping on or those coming from the canyons above.
5. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve: Goat Trail (to Skolai Pass)
The always epic Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve is an American national park and preserve located in south-central Alaska.
The park contains notable mountain ranges which include the entire Wrangell range, the western portion of the Saint Elias Mountains, and the eastern portion of the Chugach Mountains.
This rugged park is 66% wilderness so you better be ready for anything. We flew in when we last visited, and dealt with extreme weather, predators, water crossing and just about everything else you can imagine while on our 40 mile backpacking trip.
The Goat Trail itself requires a short flight from a reasonably-priced bush plane which introduces you to towering glacier-covered mountains. You’ll then need to hike several miles through the wilderness and cross a river or two BEFORE you even get to the start of the trail.
The reason this trail is named after goats will become obvious pretty quick as it is by no means an easy trek.
The Goat Trail meanders along the Chitistone River and across the pass where your trek’s end will be greeted by a menagerie of vibrantly-colored flowers.
6. Isle Royale National Park: Scoville Point Loop
Isle Royale National Park is a remote island cluster that can be found in Lake Superior near the Michigan/Canada border. You won’t find any cars in this wilderness consisting of lakes, waterways, and forests. Be wary when out and about as moose and wolves often roam this park.
The moderate-rated trail covers 5 miles and is near Shuniah, Ontario, Canada. Visitors often flock to this trail for various outdoor pastimes like walking, nature trips, bird watching, and (of course) hiking. It’s common to hear the howls of wolves and lifting loons in the trail’s tranquil forests and rocky bluffs.
If you’re planning to take on this trail, it’s recommended that you do so between May and September.
7. Bright Angel Trail: Grand Canyon National Park
Of course, we can’t talk about amazing national parks without mentioning the Grand Canyon.
If you’ve never been, I promise movies don’t do it justice.
Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park is home to much of the Grand Canyon.
The canyon sports millions of years of geological history within its layered bands of red rock.
You’ll find several viewpoints like architect Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio and her Desert View Watchtower, Lipan Point, Yavapai Observation Station, and Mather Point.
The Bright Angel Trail is reputed to be one of the most classic hikes in all of North America. The twelve-mile round trip walk takes you through the stunning views of the canyon together with the surrounding landscape.
Just make sure to bring plenty of water as staying hydrated can be difficult especially during the summer.
MORE ADVENTURE RELATED READING:
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10 Greatest USA National Parks for Hiking
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