7 Unforgettable Hikes in the U.S. for All Fitness Levels

Unforgettable Hiking Spots in the U.S.

If you’re looking for the best hikes in the United States, you’re in the right place. At Road Scholar, we’ve curated a list of some of the top walking and hiking tours for all fitness levels, whether you’re an expert or newer to hiking. Ready to get inspired? Explore the best hiking places in the United States below.

There’s no shortage of amazing hikes to experience from sea to shining sea across the U.S. From the majestic Rocky Mountains to the rocky coast of New England to the mesas of Utah, America is diverse and picturesque in its landscapes.

We’ve narrowed down the list to some of the top U.S. hikes depending on your goal. Are you a hiker looking for the most stunning views? Are you keen on exploring the best of the National Park System? Or perhaps history calls to you and you’re intrigued by a walk through America’s Civil War past with an expert by your side. The best hikes in the U.S. depend on your goals and fitness level, so here are our picks for seven unforgettable hikes.

 

National Park

1. For an Amazing View: Walk Through Acadia National Park

Explore the beauty of America’s Northeast coast at Maine’s Acadia National Park. As one of the top National Parks in the Northeast, Acadia has some of the best hikes in the United States. The hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the East Coast, is about seven miles round-trip and is a must-do for any hiker who loves a beautiful vista. You can also take many expert-led coastal hikes that offer panoramic views of both the Atlantic and the mainland, and the varied landscape means there are hikes for a variety of fitness levels.

Of course, a hike in Maine wouldn’t be complete without some lobster to celebrate upon the conclusion. Our Hiking in Acadia National Park excursion includes a lobster dinner and the opportunity to learn from an expert about how the crustaceans are caught and prepared.

Road Scholar recommends: Hiking in Acadia National Park

 

National Park

2. For a History Lesson: Trek the Appalachian Trail

Calling all history lovers! The Appalachian Trail allows you to trek through history all across this 2,000-mile mountain range. This trail crosses numerous national parks, 14 states and historic locations like Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia and several key Civil War battle sites.

In the evenings of our Appalachian Trail hike, you will often have access to historians and experts offering lectures on local history, plants and geology while resting from your miles on the trail.

Road Scholar recommends: Choose Your Pace: A Hiking Adventure on the Appalachian Trail

 

National Park

3. For Unusual Landscapes: Venture to Scout Lookout in Zion National Park, Utah

Some of the best hiking spots in the U.S. are located in the Beehive State. Utah’s geography is incredibly diverse — from the slot canyons of Antelope Canyon to the otherworldly arches of Arches National Park, there are plenty of great geographical features to see in Utah. One of the best hikes in the United States is in Zion National Park.

Spring and fall are the best times of year to hike this gorgeous five-mile trail through Utah’s Zion National Park. Starting at the Grotto trailhead, the route to Scout Lookout—and further along Zion's West Rim Trail—offers scenic vistas of canyons, red rocks and jaw-droppingly beautiful landscapes. Half the fun and thrill is your hike through “Walter’s Wiggles,” a series of 21 tight switchbacks that quickly gain elevation and venture through Refrigerator Canyon, so named because it’s always shady and cool.

If you’re visiting with kids and grandkids in tow, opt for a family-friendly outdoor adventure in Zion National Park where you will learn about Zion’s geology and plant habitats while hiking.

Road Scholar recommends: Hiking Bryce and Zion National Parks

 

National Park

4. For Tree Lovers: Mariposa Grove, Yosemite National Park, California

One of the best hiking places in the United States is Yosemite National Park. Yosemite is filled with excitement, a rich history, stunning views and vista points.

Seeing California’s giant sequoia trees should be on every adventurer’s life list. Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park gets you up close and personal with an expert at your side. This is the park’s largest grove of mature sequoias and the kick-off to our Hiking Yosemite excursion, which also features fascinating geology and natural history information during on-site lectures.

There are multiple hiking trails to choose from in this area, each of varying lengths and difficulties, which ensures you can wind through the more than 500 magnificent trees at your desired activity level. No matter the hike though, be sure to stretch out your arms for a tree hug, and snap many pictures as you attempt to capture the mammoth size and grand stature of Yosemite’s giant sequoias.

Some of the best hiking spots in the U.S. that can be found in Yosemite include:

  • Lower Yosemite Falls: One of the best hiking spots in the U.S. for beginners that can be found in Yosemite is Lower Yosemite Falls,, where hikers can take snapshots of one of the park’s most defining features. This half-mile hike can take 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how much time you want to spend hanging around the falls, and it is best to take this hike between May and September.
  • Upper Yosemite Falls: If you’re looking for a bucket list hike in the USA, make your way to Upper Yosemite Falls. This hike is geared more toward expert hikers, as it’s a 7.6 miles round-trip with a 2,559-foot elevation gain. However, once you reach the top, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of the entire park with the falls roaring below you.
  • Half Dome: Arguably America’s best hike is to the summit of Half Dome. This grueling hike is an all-day adventure that requires an official permit. The Mist Trail to the top of Half Dome is about 14.2 miles round-trip with 4,842 feet of elevation gain. However, once you reach the top, you’ll be able to view the entirety of Yosemite Valley and better understand why Yosemite is one of America’s top National Parks.

Road Scholar recommends: Hiking Yosemite Up Close and Personal

 

5. For a Desert Experience: Death Valley, California

Death Valley is home to some of the most unique hikes in the U.S., offering hikers stunning desert landscapes. Although the area is known for its extreme temperatures, cooler fall, winter and spring months allow you to take in the sights and sounds of this national park. Below are some of the top hikes in the United States you can find in Death Valley:

  • Mosaic Canyon Trail: The Mosaic Canyon Trail is a short hike that brings you through narrows with smooth, polished marble walls that are accessible to most visitors. Along this trail, you can explore the unique geology of the area.
  • Badwater Basin Salt Flat Walk: Walking along the Badwater Salt Flat will bring you to the lowest point in North America, where you can view the surrounding mountains that create a surreal landscape that can feature some of the world’s hottest temperatures with snow-capped mountains in the background.
  • Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Trail: If you’ve ever wanted to see dunes firsthand, stop at the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, which are easily accessible from Stovepipe Wells. It’s recommended to go at sunset or sunrise to experience the sunlight cast shadows on the shifting sands.

Browse the collection of our most popular travel programs to find more unique adventures, like the hikes in Death Valley National Park.

 

6. For Mountain Views: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

If you’re looking for the best mountain hikes in the U.S., look no further than Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Located outside of the popular tourist town of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton is known for its jagged mountain peaks, pristine alpine lakes and diverse wildlife. Below are two of the most beautiful hikes in the U.S. found at Grand Teton National Park:

  • Taggart Lake Trail: The Taggart Lake Trailhead offers several options for hikes in the U.S., ranging from easy day hikes to somewhat moderate hikes. Walks around Taggart Lake take anywhere between one to two hours, while the Taggart Lake Beaver Creek Loop takes roughly two to three hours.
  • Inspiration Point: One of the most popular hiking trails in the Grand Tetons is the hike to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point, which provides hikers with spectacular views of Jenny Lake and the 100-foot waterfall that flows into the lake via Cascade Creek. This hike can take anywhere from two to four hours, depending on how long you like to hike.

For the best mountain hikes in the U.S., pay a visit to Grand Teton National Park, as you will be able to take in the views of the Jackson Hole valley while having the opportunity to identify unique wildlife like moose, bison, deer, bighorn sheep and black bears. Browse our other experiential learning programs to find hikes in the U.S. you want to tackle.

 

7. For Active Adventurers: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

As we round out the top hikes in the United States, we can’t forget the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most inspiring natural wonders in the world, with some of the best hikes in the U.S. Formed by the erosion of the Colorado River over millions of years, the Grand Canyon is a deep canyon stretching for roughly 277 miles with a width between four and 18 miles depending on the location. With a depth of approximately 6,093 feet, there are plenty of outdoor exploration opportunities to view the unique rock layers from the North Rim to the South Rim. What makes the Grand Canyon one of the most beautiful hikes in the U.S. is that it has trails for every activity level that showcases the breathtaking and panoramic views of this canyon. Here are some of the best hikes in this national park:

  • Bright Angel Trail: The Bright Angel Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park, offering hikers the opportunity to trace the steps of the canyon’s Indigenous people, as well as the miners and tourists who came after them. One of the benefits of this trail is its accessibility, as it’s well maintained and relatively easy to travel on, offering trekkers of all ability types the opportunity to view the canyon. With several water stops along the way, Bright Angel Trail is a great trail for beginners looking to start their Grand Canyon adventure.
  • South Kaibab Trail: The South Kaibab Trail is another well-defined and maintained trail that perfectly showcases the panoramic views of the Grand Canyon. While steeper than the Bright Angel Trail, the South Kaibab Trail offers even footing and a more direct route to the bottom of the canyon. If you’re looking for an easy hike or day hike in the Grand Canyon, the South Kaibab Trail is a recommended choice.
  • Havasu Falls Trail: Another one of the most beautiful hikes in the U.S. is the Havasu Falls Trail, which is located in the Havasupai Indian Reservation within the Grand Canyon. It brings trekkers to the famous Havasu Falls, with its turquoise blue waters and vibrant red rocks.

Grand Canyon National Park is home to some of the top hikes in the United States, thanks to its unique rock formations, vibrant colors and stunning views, making Road Scholar’s Grand Canyon travel programs some of our favorites in North America.

 

Explore the Best Hikes in the United States With Road Scholar

At Road Scholar, we have an expansive collection of experiential learning adventures that take you on some of the best hikes in the United States. From hiking the national parks to outdoor learning adventures across the country, we have programs for everyone. No matter the program you choose, you can rest assured knowing you’re experiencing some of America’s best hikes.

Our local guides are experts and will help you discover the wildlife, landscapes and history of the areas you’re exploring. By adventuring with a others who love learning as much as you do, you will be able to complete bucket-list hikes in the United States while making lifelong relationships and memories.