The Absolute Best States For Hiking Across The US

The U.S. has a varied topography with scenic views in just about every state, especially if you want to hike. From the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains to the sweeping plains of the grasslands and verdant forests throughout, the entire nation is a haven for lovers of the outdoors. In fact, the U.S. is home to some of the most iconic trails in the world, such as The Pacific Crest Trail (made even more so by the book and movie, "Wild"), The Appalachian Trail, Half Dome (that crazy climb everyone's posting on their Insta), and many more.

Due to the scale and plethora of choices, deciding where to go for your next hiking trip can be an intimidating task. That's why we've rounded up the 15 best states for hiking in the country. From oceanside trails along both coasts to epic mountaintop climbs and sweeping desert landscapes, there's something for every type of hiker.


The Golden State is home to some of the most famous parks and treks in the U.S. In Northern California, you can hike Half Dome in Yosemite one day and then head further up the coast to Redwoods National Park. There you can wander among the tallest trees in the world and catch a glimpse of the recently re-introduced California Condor. Additionally, there is the 25-mile-long Lost Coast Trail in the far north of the state, where you'll hike along secluded sections of the oceanfront. Close to Sequoia National Park is Mount Whitney, the tallest peak in the lower 48, but make sure to book backcountry permits at the beginning of the year.

Further down the coast in SoCal, you'll find even more options for day trips and multi-night treks. Joshua Tree has long been a favorite destination among rock climbers and the general outdoors community. You can go for walks where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet and enjoy an explosive rainbow of colors during the wildflower season. Closer to the city, Mount Baldy is LA's tallest mountain and Channel Islands National Park is a wonderful nature escape off the coast of Santa Barbara. Ultimately, the year-round decent weather and highway connectivity make California a perfect hiking destination.


This Midwestern state might not have much in the way of mountains, but it more than makes up for that with its other natural features. Known as the land of the lakes, Michigan might not be on the coast, but it's certainly a marvelous hiking destination if you enjoy being near the water. Not far from its neighbor Chicago is Warren Dunes National Park, a gem in the far southwest of the state. Full of abundant forest trails, it's a nice respite from the city no matter the season, but it is absolutely best when accompanied by fall foliage. And of course, the giant dunes that are the area's namesake are nothing short of spectacular!

Alternatively, on the top of Michigan's "thumb" lies Port Crescent State Park, featuring beaches along the shores of Lake Huron that rival those on both the country's coasts. Walk along beautiful lakeside paths and keep an eye out for stars in the evening as the park is home to a dark sky preserve. Further afield are the Porcupine Mountains on the Upper Peninsula, an ideal destination for trekkers looking for remote wilderness full of wildlife. And don't miss out on Isle Royale National Park, a picturesque island closer to Minnesota and Canada.


Though it's not typically thought of as a hiking destination, Connecticut is a fantastic place to hit the trails, no matter your skill level. The state has numerous trail options and is home to a surprising number of waterfalls for such a small area. Top hiking locations include the Ragged Mountain Preserve Trail, which is just over 5.5 miles in a well-known rock climbing destination.

The Mattabesett Trail is short but steep (with a small scramble) in the middle of the state that offers amazing views all the way to Hartford. If you want something more coastal, head to Farm River State Park which has hundreds of miles of trails along Long Island Sound. And since these peaks are nothing like those out West, novice hikers will feel comfortable on most Connecticut paths. But there are still climbs like Mattabesett and Ragged Mountain that will challenge the more experienced hiker. And on any trail, you're likely to run into Gilmore-Girls-esque New England towns full of verdant trees featuring brilliant fall colors in September and October.


Another heavy-hitter for national parks, mountains, volcanoes, lakes, and ocean access, it's easy to see why Oregon is a top hiking destination. Crater Lake National Park is a magnificent place to spend a few days or even weeks exploring by foot. Choose from easy day hikes to more challenging overnight trips that require backcountry permits. And just next door is the Umpqua National Forest where you can explore numerous trails that lead to hot springs and waterfalls among the Evergreens of the Pacific Northwest.

Additionally, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in central Oregon is a unique place to go for a walk. You'll enjoy some of the best-preserved fossils in the U.S. as well as hills colored by mineral runoff. And in the very south of the state near its border with California is Oregon Caves National Monument. You'll need to book a tour to enjoy the wondrous sites deep in the mountains. And beyond the national parks, the Columbia River Gorge near Portland, Willamette National Forest near Eugene, and of course, the nationally-loved coast are all beautiful destinations just waiting to be trekked. Additionally, the number of independent cafes, bookstores, and craft breweries make relaxing after a long day on the trails easy, and most are very dog-friendly.


It would be a huge oversight not to include Hawaii on this list, since it has hikes unlike any other state. And each of the eight islands offers something different to hikers. Kauai, known as the "Garden Island" is home to a lush and green rainforest, valleys, and jungles, all full of paths. It's also home to the 11-mile-long Kalalau Trail, which follows the Na Pali Coast and offers some of the best coastal views in the world.

On Oahu, the famous Diamond Head Hike is a must-do. A paved, 1.6-mile path takes you up the crater for an unbelievable glimpse of Waikiki. Equally as famous is the Stairway to Heaven hike, also known as the Haiku Stairs Hike, which consists of just over 3,900 stairs leading to a staggering mountaintop panorama of the island. If you happen to be on the Big Island, hike to Hi'ilawe Falls, one of the state's largest waterfalls. And after your trek (or treks), you can relax on some of the best beaches in the world with tropical treats you won't find elsewhere in the U.S.


The Big Sky State's current relevance in pop culture can be credited to the television show "Yellowstone" named for the park Montana shares with Idaho and Wyoming. However, hikers have known it to be a fantastic destination for decades. Sure, America's oldest national park might call the state home, but there's plenty else to be discovered. The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park might just be one of the most glorious paths in the West. You'll start at one of the highest points in the park and follow a flat path for just over 12 miles where you can enjoy looking at the surrounding mountains for the entire way.

Additionally, the ice caves in the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest are a huge pull for hikers as well as the Flathead National Forest, which is surrounded by multiple serene lakes. And of course, since this is Montana, wolves, mountain goats, and bears abound, so keep your eyes peeled on the trail!


The Long Trail might be Vermont's most famous path, but the entire state is a wonderful destination for hiking. The lovely Green Mountains serve as either a breathtaking backdrop or a challenging obstacle to tackle. Home to a surprising number of waterfalls, fire lookouts, lakes, and ponds for such a small state, Vermont has great variety. There are numerous paths of varying degrees of difficulty, ensuring hikers of all types will find something to their liking.

Elmore State Park, Camel's Hump, Ramble State Park, and the Windsor Trail are all popular favorites. However, for a bit more tranquility, head to the northeast corner of the state, also known as the Northeast Kingdom, a remote section of Vermont where you won't constantly run into others on the trail. And of course, should you choose to visit in the fall, you'll be rewarded with some of the best foliage in the country!

North Carolina

Another lesser-thought-of state on our list of hiking destinations, North Carolina is home to both mountainous and coastal routes. The Blue Ridge Mountains are often forgotten in favor of more popular giants like the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, and the Cascades. But these smaller peaks in the South are the perfect place to get some training climbs in, no matter your level. Calloway Peak can be completed in a day, although you'll need to purchase a permit ahead of time and pack plenty of supplies. For even more of a challenge, the Mountain to Sea Trail is a 1,175-mile trail that starts in the Great Smoky Mountains and ends on the famous beaches of the Outer Banks. It's recommended for experienced hikers only, although more novice ones can complete smaller sections in a day.

For more relaxed trekkers, the Craggy Pinnacle Trail is not far from Asheville, and at just over a mile, it's a great way to see the Blue Ridge Mountains. Additionally, Croatan National Forest makes up a tree-lined portion of the coast near New Bern, and there are also a few small lakes in the park. Last but not least, Carolina Beach State Park is home to many lovely trails along the beach.


The Rocky Mountain state is home to some of the most picturesque hiking areas in the world. It might even be overwhelming to decide where to go, but there really is no wrong answer here. Of course, the natural place to start is Rocky Mountain National Park, where even the shortest trails provide unmatched views. The gorgeous Emerald Lake Trail is just over 4 miles long and features multiple alpine lakes along the way to the Glacier Gorge Trail where you'll pass Alberta Falls. Though this is where most people turn around, if you continue, you'll be rewarded with the secluded Sky Pond. The 15-mile Cascade Creek Trail to Crater Lake provides vistas of splendid peaks and alpine meadows along the way. It's also an ideal training route for those newer to backpacking.

If you want to stay closer to urban centers, try the short but steep Flatirons Loop near Boulder. It comes in at just under 2.5 miles long, but with 1,400 feet of elevation gain, you'll get some of the best panoramas in the area without too much of a time commitment. Additionally, the Castle Rock area just 30 minutes from Denver has sweeping vistas from any of its numerous trails, and they're appropriate for all ability levels.


Maine has a surprising range of trails, from pretty coastal routes to magical forest walks, so you'll never be bored in the northeastern corner of the country! The best-known hiking destination is Acadia National Park, and you can't really hike in the state and not hit up Cadillac Mountain, choosing between a 4-mile or 7-mile route to the top. Additionally, the Beehive Trail is just 1.9 miles and has stunning views of the ocean — just be prepared to scramble on some rocks.

The state is also home to parts of the Appalachian Trail, including a grueling climb up Mount Katahdin, Maine's tallest mountain. However, if you want a reward without too strenuous a workout, head over to Mount Kineo. After just 3.4 miles and less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain, you can take in the picturesque Moosehead Lake. And with a temperate climate that never gets too hot in the summer, Maine is a great option if you don't like hiking in the heat! Or visit in winter and bring your snowshoes.


The largest U.S. state is diverse in its hiking trails; from the ancient rainforest around Juneau to the peaks in Denali and historic routes around Sitka, you'll never be bored in the "Last Frontier." You can follow an old mining trail right from downtown Juneau, trekking the Perseverance National Recreation Trail for 4.6 miles through the old rainforest to waterfalls and along the river. Near Ketchikan, Deer Mountain awaits hikers who are willing to complete its 5-mile trek that ends with sweeping views of the Tongass Narrows. If you make it all the way to Sitka, you can take an easy 1.3-mile loop in the National Historical Park and learn about the area's unique history.

Near Anchorage, Flattop Mountain is a popular local trail, and at just 3.4 miles roundtrip it isn't too difficult, although it can be rocky in spots, so make sure to come prepared. Of course, Denali and the Chugach Mountains provide endless opportunities to climb Alaskan terrain. And don't forget Kenai Fjords National Park, home to pretty walks including many close to massive glaciers. Just remember that the hiking season in Alaska is short, only going from mid-May until late August since frost can appear as early as late summer.


Washington is home to volcanoes, looming mountain ranges, pristine lakes, cascading falls, stunning beaches, and trees that give it the nickname the "Evergreen State." Diverse natural beauty makes Washington an absolute delight to hike and there's no shortage of options. Most outdoors enthusiasts head to one of the three national parks. Olympic National Park has a bit of everything: You can start the day by climbing mountain peaks before cooling off in the rainforest and ending the day on the coast. Mount Rainier National Park impresses no matter the season, with wildflowers in summer and snowy peaks in winter. And finally, North Cascades National Park might just be the region's best-kept secret, with alpine lakes and fewer crowds than other destinations.

However, some of the best hikes in the state are located much closer to Seattle. The trails near North Bend and Snoqualmie in the Central Cascades are full of popular day hikes like Rattlesnake Ledge, Mount Si, and Snow Lake. Alternatively, Bellingham is just 90 miles north and has numerous options for trails. You can also head northeast to the Mount Baker wilderness, where you'll find seemingly endless paths, including the iconic Mount Pilchuck.


Yellowstone National Park and cowboys might be the first things that come to mind when Wyoming is mentioned, but the state is also a phenomenal place to hike. Of course, America's most-visited national park is home to many out-of-this-world trails and wildlife, but it's not the only place to trek. The sometimes-overlooked Grand Tetons are a nature lover's paradise — you can choose between the very intense Middle Teton (one of the most difficult day hikes in the country) or the more chill, but still scenic Cascade Canyon.

The Cloud Peak Wilderness — an alpine meadow area — is home to many trails guaranteed to impress, like Lost Twin Lakes and the Mistymoon Trail. Additionally, Delta Lake is one of Wyoming's most sublime hiking destinations as the rough trail rewards hikers with an emerald lake at the base of a sharp peak. Of course, this is truly the western wilderness, so keep your eyes peeled and be prepared to encounter some of the largest wildlife in the U.S. Remember to brush up on your bear and cougar safety, take everything you pack in with you, and stay on the trail!


Best known for the Grand Canyon — where options include hiking down paths to the bottom, staying the night at Phantom Ranch, and completing a rim trail — Arizona has even more to offer! In northern Arizona, where the canyon is located, you can find plenty of other places to hike near Sedona and Flagstaff.

Further south, Camelback Mountain isn't far from Phoenix and it's a great short hike if you want to get outside without spending too much time in the southwestern sun. However, even though it's only 2.5 miles long, it is very steep, with over 1,200 feet of elevation gain, so make sure to bring plenty of water. And of course, a hiking trip to Arizona wouldn't be complete without a stop at Antelope Canyon. The unique slots through rock and the trippy effects of natural lighting are truly one-of-a-kind. Please note that you can only visit with a guided tour.


"The Natural State" is aptly named, thanks to the natural diversity that abounds in Arkansas. You might not think of the state as an outdoor destination, but it's home to numerous hot springs, lush valleys, and mountains. The most famous trail destination is the Ozark Mountains, where rolling green hills and thick forests follow the rise and fall of peaks and snaking riverways. The area is only home to a few trails, but the government hopes to increase the number in the future so that hikers can enjoy more hidden corners of the Ozarks. 

Outside of the mountains made famous by yet another television show, the aptly-named "Ozark," Arkansas has a few other regions that trekkers will appreciate. Petit Jean State Park has scenery that competes with the Ozarks and boasts fewer crowds. And the Ouachita National Forest is full of incredible walks, cascading waterfalls, and lakes to cool off in.