For the 50+ Traveler

Whether you’re an avid hiker or are considering hitting a trail for the first time, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of best hikes in all 50 states to inspire you. From the Pacific Northwest to New England, Alaska to Florida, and prairies, coasts, canyons, hoodoos, overlooks, and caves in between, our travel experts share the best hike in your state and those you’re hoping to tick off your bucket list.

A trail through the Dauphin Island Audubon Bird Sanctuary in Alabama.


Alabama Birding Trails

Length: Varies, Difficulty: Varies

Over 400 species of birds live in and migrate through Alabama, and this trail system, which stretches from the Tennessee River to the Gulf of Mexico, offers 280 spots to stop and bird-watch in addition to inviting you to traverse miles of gorgeous scenery.

Sage Scott told us, “From mountains and forests to marshes and coastline, Alabama is the most biologically diverse state east of the Mississippi River. While most hiking trails throughout the state are lined with beautiful wildflowers, shaded by trees, and offer glimpses of wildlife, my favorite hikes in Alabama are along the Alabama Birding Trails.” See Sage’s advice for other beautiful hikes in Alabama, too.

The Ward Lake Loop in Ward Cove, Alaska.


Ward Lake Loop, Ward Cove

Distance: 1.5 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

“The Ward Lake Loop is a spiritual experience where visitors of all ages and abilities are enveloped by a world that time forgot. The towering rainforest, mirrored lake, whispering breeze, sunlit meandering path, and powerful rushing creek weave a magical veil from which one hopes never to emerge.”

Adryn Sumner, who wrote about the most stunning hikes in Alaska, told us, “As a fourth-generation Alaskan, I have been traversing the trails in my home state since I was old enough to walk. In a state known for its unparalleled wild beauty and incredibly vast terrain and offerings, the choice of one hike above the others feels like sacrilege. Still, if pressed, I might suggest one that captures the very essence of Alaska herself.”

The Kachina Trail in Flagstaff, Arizona.


Summer And Fall: Kachina Trail, San Francisco Peaks, Flagstaff

Distance: 10 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

In summer, head for the Kachina Trail in the Flagstaff area’s San Francisco Peaks. It offers a respite from the scorching Arizona heat and is known for its crisp, cool, pine-scented air. Emese Fromm told us, “As you step on the trail, the forest envelops you, as it winds through tall ponderosa pines, fern-filled areas, open meadows, and groves of quaking aspens. In the fall, the aspens put on a dazzling show, while in spring wildflowers offer another dimension to the hike, in the open meadows. This trail starts in the Arizona Snowbowl area, and although it is 10 miles long, the first two miles offer enough of a show to make it worth it.”

Winter And Spring: Apache Wash Loop Trail, Sonoran Desert Preserve, Phoenix

Distance: 6.6 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

In winter, try the Apache Wash Loop Trail in the Sonoran Desert Preserve north of Phoenix. The nearly seven-mile loop takes you past iconic saguaros and teddy bear cacti, plus pencil chollas and stunted palo verde trees. Emese told us, “Following and crossing the Apache Wash -- where you are not likely to see water -- parts of the trail are greener than most of the surrounding desert. In the spring, from late February through March, this area is one of the best places to see desert wildflowers, especially along the wash.” Also read up on the 16 best hikes to experience in Arizona for more all-season inspiration.

A waterfall along the Lost Valley Trail in Arkansas.


Lost Valley Trail, Buffalo National River, Ponca

Distance: 2.1 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

The Lost Valley Trail is deservedly popular considering it leads hikers to a waterfall, a cave, and a swimming spot. This isn’t just a hike -- it’s a nature experience.

David Hopkin told us the natural bridge over the first little waterfall is easy to traverse, and he recommends making time to explore the area around Cob Cave before hiking on. “Make sure to spend some time exploring before moving on. The trees provide enough shade in the summer, so this is a trail that’s enjoyable in any season. The best parts of the trail are toward the end as the trail leads you to Eden Falls. Make sure to pack accordingly so you can hop in for a swim at the end.”

See his other recommendations for stunning hikes in Arkansas here.

The Rubicon Trail in northern California.

California (Northern)

Rubicon Trail, South Lake Tahoe

Distance: 16.4 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Located in South Lake Tahoe, the Rubicon Trail provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in spectacular scenery, and refreshes even the weariest spirit with its magnificent pine-scented peace and serenity. The trail connects two state parks, and you'll enjoy views of the lake during almost the entire hike, which means plenty of great photo ops.

Sue Reddel ad Diana Laskaris told us, “One of our favorite places on the planet, Lake Tahoe appeals to all the senses in every season,” and hitting the Rubicon Trail is a great way to have your own unforgettable Lake Tahoe experience. See the most stunning hikes in Northern California for even more Golden State inspiration.

The Laurel Canyon Trail in southern California.

California (Southern)

Laurel Canyon Trail, Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, Laguna Beach

Distance: 3.6 Miles, Difficulty: Easy To Moderate

The Laurel Canyon Trail in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is the hike you cannot miss in Southern California. Wendy Lee told us, “Most people drive by this 7,000-acre park on their way to the beach without knowing what they are missing.” It winds through meadows full of wildflowers and ascends a rocky slope. “Along the way, the trees are full of birds -- over 130 species make their home in this region. I've hiked this trail many times and I just don’t get tired of it,” Wendy reminisced. Find more SoCal suggestions in “9 Beautiful Hikes In Southern California.”

Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.


Chasm Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park

Distance: 9.4 Miles, Difficulty: Hard

Chasm Lake off Highway 7 in Rocky Mountain National Park is truly the ultimate Colorado hike. According to Mike Owens, it “has all the right ingredients: switchbacks, above treeline, lots of wildflowers -- including the state flower, the blue columbine -- enough challenge to raise the heart rate, and a good spot for lunch overlooking a roaring river."

For other CO trail and vista tips, read up on the nine most stunning hikes in Colorado.

The Mianus River Park in Connecticut.


Yellow Loop, Mianus River Park, Greenwich/Stamford

Length: 4.5 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

The Yellow Loop in Mianus River Park on the border of Greenwich and Stamford is an easy hike that goes around the entire park, allowing you to take in all of the beautiful scenery. Reflecting on nine beautiful hikes they recommend in Connecticut, Diana and Sue told us that the Yellow Loop’s terrain “provides a lot of variety, and it's great for observing wildlife and birds. Taking this hike gives us a chance to appreciate nature and refresh ourselves.”

Trap Pond State Park in Delaware.


Trap Pond Loop, Trap Pond State Park, Laurel

Distance: 5 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Marvel at the bald cypress trees that rise from the still waters of Trap Pond when you take to the five-mile-long Trap Pond Loop. In addition to these majestic trees, you could see a variety of birds, from fierce bald eagles to red-headed woodpeckers.

“With an average elevation of 60 feet above sea level,” Sage told us, “Delaware is one of the flattest states in the Union. But that doesn’t prevent it from offering scenic hikes along the coast, canal, and other waterways,” including Trap Pond. For more inspiration, read Sage’s take on the eight best hikes in Delaware.

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse in Florida.


Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area, Tequesta

Distance: Varies, Difficulty: Varies

Appreciate Florida’s unique mangroves and birding opportunities at the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Outstanding Natural Area. Whether you enjoy authentic Florida or are experiencing the state for the first time, Sara Broers says the Jupiter Inlet trails, which are on either side of Beach Road, will enchant you. In addition to winged ones, you can expect to see manatees in the water here.

Sara told us Florida has surprised her with its hiking trails, and natural areas including Jupiter Inlet have proved that Florida is more than Disney and beaches. Read up on the best hikes in Florida here.

A portion of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia's Blue Ridge.


Appalachian Trail, Blue Ridge

Distance: Varies, Difficulty: Varies

In Georgia, trekking even a sliver of the iconic Appalachian Trail has to take the crown. Starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia and stretching north some 2,000 miles across 14 states into Maine, the Appalachian Trail is the world’s longest hiking-only footpath, with 78 miles residing in the Peach State. While it is hard for her to choose a favorite outdoor experience in Georgia, where hikes range from forested mountains to ocean coasts, Sage told us hopping on a part of the A.T. is an unforgettable hike you just can’t miss, and she makes access point recommendations in her roundup of 10 scenic hikes in Georgia.

Views from the Diamond Head Summit Trail in Hawaii.


Diamond Head Summit Trail, Diamond Head State Monument, Oahu

Distance: 1.8 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

The Diamond Head Summit Trail on the island of Oahu is truly the quintessential Hawaiian hike. Cindy Barks told us, “It really is the hike you can't leave Hawaii without doing. Not only does it give you bragging rights for climbing Honolulu's most recognizable landmark, but the payoff is spectacular. After scrambling up steep switchbacks and passing through a 225-foot-long lighted tunnel, you're rewarded with a sweeping view of Honolulu's gleaming skyline bordering a shoreline of white-sand beach and turquoise-blue water. Because of its popularity, you'll probably have to share the trail with hundreds of others, but I believe it's worth it. It is a relatively short hike at just 0.8-mile one-way, but the Diamond Head Summit Trail packs a sweet tropical punch.” Discover more stunning hikes in Hawaii here.

Redfish Lake in Idaho's Sawtooth National Forest.


Redfish Lake Loop, Sawtooth National Forest, Custer County

Distance: 14.6 Miles, Difficulty: Hard

High in the Sawtooth Mountains, Redfish Lake provides the perfect summer hike. Robert Rosenthal told us that if you find yourself in Idaho, you just have to see Redfish Lake, and you should start by checking out the historic lodge. “Then take the Redfish Lake Trail as far as you want to go. The mountain lake just has to be seen to be believed.” While the full 14.6-mile loop is rated hard, hiking a portion of the trail doesn’t have to be. Read up on eight reasons to visit Idaho’s Redfish Lake, plus the 10 best hikes in Idaho.

Matthiessen State Park in northern Illinois.

Illinois (Northern)

Dells Canyon And Bluff Trail, Matthiessen State Park, LaSalle County

Distance: 2 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

The best hikes are often the ones overshadowed by the famous ones. And that's certainly the case when it comes to the Dells Canyon and Bluff Trail in Matthiessen State Park in Northern Illinois. Millions of visitors flock to Starved Rock State Park a few miles away to visit its famous canyons, but Robert told us this trail around and through the canyon at Matthiessen State Park, just three miles south of Starved Rock, is his favorite trail in the area. “Walk the bluffs above the canyon and then take the stairway down into the canyon to view the cliffs from below.” Also check out eight other beautiful hikes in Northern Illinois here.

Rock formations in Giant City State Park, Illinois.

Illinois (Southern)

Red Cedar Trail, Giant City State Park, Makanda

Distance: 12 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Giant City State Park is home to some massive rock formations (thus the giant), and the Red Cedar Trail connects them all. It gives you a taste of everything great about hiking in Southern Illinois, and at one of the rock outcroppings, you might not believe you’re in Illinois at all. Robert told us that having grown up in Southern Illinois, this has been his favorite hike since his childhood. He suggests that you hike part of the trail or take the whole day and hike all of it, then end your day with a great meal at the Giant City Lodge. Want to do more hiking in this part of the state? Read Robert’s “7 Best Hikes To Experience In Southern Illinois.”

Indiana Dunes National Park along the shores of Lake Michigan.


Cowles Bog Trail in Indiana Dunes National Park, Dune Acres

Distance: 4.7 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the area, you might be surprised to learn that you can do some sand hiking in Indiana. Take to the Cowles Bog Trail in Indiana Dunes National Park, and Sara says you’ll enjoy beautiful views of Lake Michigan that you’ll carry with you forever. In addition to the windswept beaches, there are also marshes, ponds, and black oaks along the trail. For the best views of Lake Michigan, Sara warns against any shortcuts and says you should take the longer, more strenuous hike. For more Indiana hiking inspiration, read up on nine beautiful hikes in Indiana.

Pea's Creek in Ledges State Park, Iowa.


Pea’s Creek Canyon, Ledges State Park, Madrid

Distance: 4 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Spend an unforgettable day hiking in Ledges State Park in Central Iowa, where the ledges add to the beauty of hiking trails that are covered by canopies of lush, green trees. Sara recommends the four-mile Pea’s Creek Canyon walk and told us fall is an exceptional time of year to visit, as the fall colors are rich and varied. She also enthusiastically recommends these other hikes to experience in Iowa.

Mushroom Rocks in Kanopolis State Park, Kansas.


Horsethief Canyon, Kanopolis State Park, Kanopolis

Distance: 9.1 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

The name of this hike is where the intregue begins. Tap into your inner adventurer as you navigate in and out of narrow, rocky canyons and over multiple water crossings. The trail is relatively flat, and you’ll enjoy great views of Smoky Hill River. Mike, who tells us this is his favorite spot for a walk in the Sunflower State, suggests making a side trip to Mushroom Rocks -- stone pillars topped by harder, larger rocks that look like mushrooms -- after you’ve finished hiking Horsethief Canyon. This was the meeting spot for generations of Native tribes and in later years, pioneers heading west.

See more scenic hikes in Kansas here.

Eagle Falls in Kentucky's Cumberland Falls State Park.


Eagle Falls Trail, Cumberland Falls State Park, Near Parkers Lake

Distance: 1.8 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

This hike is the perfect blend of a moderate to slightly strenuous hike with a wonderful payoff at the end. The lollipop-shaped trail leads you to beautiful Eagle Falls, and if you take your time to explore, you’ll notice caves and, depending on the time of year, views of Cumberland Falls along the way. David, who calls this his favorite Kentucky hike in recent years, warns that it is mostly uphill and involves stairs, so don’t be deceived by the fact that the hike is under two miles. For longer and/or less strenuous hikes, check out his other recommendations for fantastic hikes in Kentucky.

The Barataria Preserve in Marrero, Louisiana.


Barataria Preserve, Marrero

Distance: Varies, Difficulty: Varies

If you’re spending time in New Orleans, the perfect antidote to all the partying the city has to offer is a hike at nearby Barataria Preserve inside Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The preserve’s connected dirt and gravel trails are easy to navigate and afford hikers a view of the flora and fauna of Louisiana’s untamed swampland. Erika Ebsworth-Goold told us, “A tromp through Barataria is a great way to get some nature in, even during a whirlwind south Louisiana weekend!” She also recommends these nine other beautiful hikes in Louisiana.

Views from the Giant's Stairs Trail in Harpswell, Maine.


Giant’s Stairs Trail, Bailey Island, Harpswell

Distance: 0.7 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Giant’s Stairs Trail on Bailey Island “isn’t terribly rugged hiking, but the views of the ocean are absolutely stunning. There is so much beautiful coastal area, wide open and perfect for leisurely exploring. It’s a peaceful place to let your mind wander as you immerse yourself in a scenic panorama that fills you with the power of nature,” which makes it Sue and Diana’s favorite hike in Maine.

Views from Sugarloaf Mountain in Dickerson, Maryland.


Sugarloaf Mountain, Dickerson

Distance: 3.5 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Sugarloaf Mountain in Maryland boasts what Sue and Diana call “addictive wildlife.” “As avid wildlife lovers and bird-watchers, we love the opportunity for animal encounters in nature.” Plus, “hiking around a mountain that is 14 million years old helps you gain perspective, especially when you're in the midst of breathtaking scenery,” making Sugarloaf Mountain the best of the best when it comes to picturesque hikes in Maryland.

Views of Boston from the World's End Trail in Massachusetts.


World’s End Trail, Boston Harbor Islands National Park, Hingham

Distance: 3.8 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

World’s End Trail in Hingham, with panoramic views of Boston, is one of the most scenic hikes in Massachusetts. The peninsula juts out into Boston Harbor for an easy 3.8-mile stroll through marshes, woodlands, and windswept pathways. If you are visiting Boston, it is a wonderful opportunity to experience the New England coastline, hear the rhythmic waves, and enjoy the outdoors all year round,” which is why Sandi Barrett, who wrote about the best scenic hikes in Massachusetts, calls it the best hike in the Bay State.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.


Pyramid Point Trail, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire

Distance: 2.8 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Pyramid Point Trail in Sleeping Bear Dunes is a “beautiful hike with lots of variety including forest, meadows, and, of course, sand dunes. The views of Lake Michigan from the outlook are breathtaking. The whole area is worth exploring and gives you a chance to breathe in clean air and find some time to enjoy being out in nature’s glory,” which is why Sue and Diana say it stands out among the fantastic hikes in Michigan.

The entrance to Superior National Forest in Minnesota.


Angleworm Lake Trail, Superior National Forest, Ely

Distance: 13 Miles, Difficulty: Hard

Minnesota is called the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a reason, and if you hop on any trail near a Minnesota lake, odds are, you’ll be rewarded with memorable views. This is especially true when it comes to rugged Angleworm Lake Trail in Superior National Forest. This hike, which takes two to three days to complete, takes you up over 1,500 feet and past numerous lakes. For more Minnesota trail recommendations, all of which Sara told us are “exceptional when sunset rolls around,” consult her list of eight perfect hikes in Minnesota.

The Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge Center.


Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge, Gautier

Distance: Varies, Difficulty: Easy

While the number, length, and difficulty of the trails in the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge are relatively limited, it’s the possibility of seeing native sandhill cranes that entices Sage. The refuge was “established in 1975 to protect these critically endangered, long-legged, crimson-masked birds,” which makes a hike in this Gautier spot her number one pick in the state. For more great hikes, check out Sage's list of picturesque hikes in Mississippi.

The Big Spring Trail in Ellisnore, Missouri.


Big Spring Trail, Ellsinore

Distance: 1.8 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Known as the Cave State due to the Missouri limestone that dissolves as water passes through, creating caves and springs, the best hike in Missouri has to be one that incorporates a cave spring. Try the Big Spring Trail, which follows a branch of the Current River that’s fed by Big Spring. The water along the trail is especially blue and chock-full of dissolved limestone. You’ll hike under the auspices of some of the Ozark Mountains, some of the oldest mountains in North America. Toward the end of the walk, Mike says you should be on the lookout for the spring itself, which jumps out of a hillside. Just don’t be tempted to drink the water. No matter how clear it looks, it’s not potable -- and do check out Mike’s recommendations for other beautiful hikes in Missouri.

Highline Trail, West Glacier National Park


The Highline, Glacier National Park

Distance: 12 Miles, Difficulty: Hard

This hike is renowned for its beauty and difficulty, and it comes endorsed by Mike, who spends his summers as a Glacier National Park Red Bus driver. This is a long hike, so you’ll need to be prepared with extra water, food, and strong legs. You’ll also need to take a shuttle either to or from your car. Despite the trail’s difficulty (one portion of the hike is so narrow that the National Park Service has provided a cable handrail for hikers to hold onto), it is heavily traveled and well marked. Those bold enough to traverse this terrain are rewarded with views of Heaven’s Peak and a creek crossing where Mike says you can “rip off your boots and cool your toes.” There’s also the Granite Park Chalet, where you can take a mid-hike lunch and bathroom break if your timing’s right. For more hikes in Glacier, specifically, see Mike’s picks for eight fantastic hikes in Glacier National park, or read up on Sue and Diana’s picks for eight other best hikes to experience in Montana.

Toadstool Geological Park in Nebraska.


Toadstool Trail, Ogalala National Grassland, Harrison

Distance: 0.8 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

When most people hear Nebraska, they think flat. But Nebraska is not all flat prairies. The western half of Nebraska is loaded with geological features the likes of which you won’t find anywhere else. “If you only have time to explore one hiking trail in Nebraska, you need to visit the Toadstool Geological Park and hop on the hiking trails,” Sara told us. “The best tip that I can give you when hiking in Nebraska is to carry plenty of water with you at all times. Nebraska is hot in the summer, but it's extremely rewarding with all of its beauty.” See Sara’s other Nebraska hiking recommendations here.

The Alpine Lakes Loop Trail in Nevada.


Alpine Lakes Loop Trail, Great Basin National Park, Baker

Distance: 2.7 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Alpine Lakes Loop Trail in Great Basin National Park is hard to beat. Right from the trailhead, you’re treated to the sweet sound of trickling water from the creek that crosses the trail numerous times. But the real treasures of the hike are the two lakes -- Stella and Teresa -- that you pass along the way. Stella is surrounded by snow-patched peaks, which are reflected in the lake’s sparkling clear water. Teresa is fed by a pretty little creek that winds through a green, grassy meadow.” Cindy, who recommends these nine spectacular hikes in Nevada, told us she gives the Alpine Lakes Loop Trail a 10 out of 10 on the loveliness scale.

Summit views form West Rattlesnake Mountain.

New Hampshire

Old Bridle Path, West Rattlesnake Mountain, Center Sandwich

Distance: 1.7 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Old Bridle Path is a quick, fun hike that is appropriate for the whole family. The payoff is great views of the New Hampshire Lakes Region. On a sunny afternoon, the shaded trail is cool and inviting, beaconing you to push forward for a remarkable, mountain-studded view,” Sandi told us as she reflected on the most picturesque hikes in New Hampshire.

Buttermilk Falls in Layton, New Jersey.

New Jersey

Buttermilk Falls And Crater Lake Loop Trail, Walpack Fish And Wildlife Management Area, Layton

Distance: 6.7 Miles, Difficulty: Hard

Hiking the Buttermilk Falls and Crater Lake Loop Trail is a stunning and challenging experience. Part of the New Jersey side of the Delaware Water Gap, Buttermilk Falls is a gorgeous and powerful waterfall. 180 feet of water come crashing down. Crater Lake is one of the prettiest lakes in the state. In between, wildlife and birds abound. The 6+ mile trail starts at the top of the falls and includes part of the Appalachian Trail. It can also be done in reverse by starting at Crater Lake. Buttermilk Falls can be easily seen without the hiking, but the hike makes the falls even more of an experience. The contrasting experiences of the peaceful lake and the powerful waterfalls leave an impression on the soul. As an alternative to the Crater Lake Loop, the beautiful Tillman Ravine and Silver Spray Falls are a short walk from Buttermilk.

Sue Davies and Regina Ang said, “Our favorite hikes include lakes and waterfalls. Buttermilk Falls to Crater Lake is the best in all of New Jersey.” If you’re after a more accessible hike, see their recommendations for the nine best hikes to experience in New Jersey and the most scenic hikes in the Delaware Water Gap, too.

White Sands National Park in New Mexico.

New Mexico

White Sands National Park, Dona Ana And Otero Counties

Distance: Varies, Difficulty: Varies

From snow-capped mountains in the north to dry desert paths in the south, the most memorable hiking trails in New Mexico are at White Sands National Park. Sage told us that the shifting sand dunes of one of the world’s largest gypsum fields, which are about an hour east of Las Cruces, “provide a scenic backdrop unlike any other place in the United States.” She provides additional detail on hiking in White Sands and enjoying nine other gorgeous hikes in New Mexico here.

The Constitution Marsh Trail in New York.

New York

The Constitution Marsh Trail, Storm King State Park, Garrison

Distance: 1.2 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Of all the gorgeous hikes in New York, it’s the Constitution Marsh Trail at the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary in Garrison that’s a must-visit. Sue and Diana, who describe themselves as “avid bird watchers and wildlife observers,” feel thrilled to be in a place where nature surrounds them in all its glory. “To be rewarded even in the winter with the sight of bald eagles soaring and calling to one another is as exciting as it gets” -- and it’s just over an hour from NYC.

A woman walking on the Green River Cove Trail.

North Carolina

Green River Cove Trail, Green River Gameland, Saluda

Distance: 6.5 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

The Green River Valley is a sight to behold, and the road to get into the valley -- which has 18 switchbacks going down a steep mountain -- is part of the fun. Once you reach the bridge at the bottom, you can take the Green River Cove Trail in either direction. Robert told us, “There's just nothing like a trail along a river, especially when it's fully flowing and filled with whitewater kayaks. This trail is steep, but the climb is worth it.” Plan to enjoy some of the most amazing views in the state, and read up on 10 stunning hikes in North Carolina as you decide where else your adventures will take you.

Views from the Maah Daah Hey Trail in North Dakota.

North Dakota

Maah Daah Hey Trail, Western North Dakota

Distance: 140+ Miles, Difficulty: Hard

This is the granddaddy of all trails in North Dakota. It’s over 140 miles long and composed of nine different units that can be enjoyed by hikers of all abilities. It passes through valleys and prairies, by jagged peaks, and alongside rivers. Hop on the trail near Watford City, Medora, or somewhere in between and enjoy an out-and-back hike, or, if you’re up for the challenge, plan to traverse the entire trail for the trek of a lifetime. Want a shorter North Dakota trail? Read up on the seven best hikes to experience in North Dakota.

The Buckeye Trail through Ohio.


Buckeye Trail, Encircling Ohio

Distance: 1,444 Miles, Difficulty: Varies

Named for the state tree, this epic 1,444-mile loop that follows the perimeter of Ohio encircles the state, offering a wide variety of hikes to spectacular falls, through deeply carved gorges, and along tree-lined paths. Sage told us you can “simply follow the rectangular blue blazes and explore the Buckeye State!” Of course, you can also enjoy out-and-back Buckeye Trail hikes that allow you to determine your own hiking time and distance. Aside from the Buckeye Trail, Sage recommends these picturesque hikes in Ohio, too.

Ruins along Turner Falls Park in Davis, Oklahoma.


Turner Falls Park, Davis

Distance: 3.5 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

In addition to the beautiful waterfalls that give Turner Falls Park its name, the stunning trails, castle-style ruins, and a good old-fashioned swimming hole make this location the place to hike in Oklahoma. Sara told us you could drive by these falls on I-35 numerous times and not know what you’re missing out on. The park’s trails form a loop that’s heavily trafficked and accessible year-round. For more OK hiking inspiration, see Sara’s recommendations of nine beautiful hikes in Oklahoma.

Views along the Tillamook Head Trail in Oregon.


Tillamook Head Trail, Ecola State Park, Seaside

Distance: 10 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

The Tillamook Head Trail in Ecola State Park, just outside the vacation town of Seaside, invites you to climb the cliffs above the Pacific Ocean and provides one stunning view after another. Robert told us, “It took my wife and I such a long time to complete this hike because we kept stopping to take pictures. The green moss on every tree and rock, the mist rolling in off the ocean -- it might be my favorite hike in the entire West.” Find more of Robert’s stunning Oregon hike recommendations here.

One of the many waterfalls along the Falls Trail in eastern Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania (Eastern)

Falls Trail, Ricketts Glen State Park, Benton

Distance: 6.6 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

When in Eastern Pennyslvania, do not miss the Falls Trail at Ricketts Glen State Park. Like most hikers, Sue and Diana told us they love waterfalls, “so the opportunity to hike and see so many of them along one trail is truly spectacular. In addition to the many waterfalls, the trail is challenging enough to make you take your time to enjoy the scenery, birds, and wildlife for an unforgettable adventure.” See their other picks for best hikes in Eastern Pennsylvania here.

Kinzua Bridge State Park in western Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania (Western)

Kinzua Bridge Trail, Kinzua Bridge State Park, Mount Jewett

Distance: 1.2 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

In Western Pennsylvania, the trail not to miss is the Kinzua Bridge Skywalk. The actual hike to the skywalk is relatively easy and is paved until you get to the bridge, which is then wooden and flat for the entire length of the completely unique, high-in-the-sky structure. Summon your courage and enjoy the “only here” views of the treetops and expansive sky. If you have time for additional hiking in this part of the state, see Robin O’Neal Smith’s guide to gorgeous hikes in Western Pennsylvania.

Sauchest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail, Middletown

Distance: 2.4 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Jutting out into Sachuest Bay, the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail hugs the coastline for most of its easy 2.4-mile loop and will introduce you to the real Rhode Island. Enjoy gorgeous water views, plus a seemingly endless array of other flora, fauna --including deer -- and vistas. Sandi recommends these 11 other scenic hikes in Rhode Island as well.

Views from the Table Rock Trail in South Carolina.

South Carolina

Table Rock Trail, Table Rock State Park, Pickens

Distance: 6.4 Miles, Difficulty: Hard

“You’ll boast quads of steel after this eight-mile workout in Table Rock State Park, but most agree it’s one of the best hikes in South Carolina. Strenuous but spectacular, if a six-year-old sporting his favorite KEEN Targhees can manage it,” Adryn told us, “it’s on the table for most everyone. Stately boulders, abundant wildflowers, and rushing waterfalls along the way provide ample opportunities to stop at lookouts for a breath and to take in the sights on the steep incline. The well-marked path is 75 percent uphill, so summiting may feel like an Everest-level achievement. Still, a packed lunch enjoyed after such an effort over sweeping views of the lake and foothills is extra satisfying.”

Adryn provides more details on the Table Rock hike and other more accessible trails in “8 Beautiful Hikes In South Carolina.”

Black Elk Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

South Dakota

Black Elk Peak, Black Hills

Distance: 3.5 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

If you only have time for one hike in South Dakota, it has to be the ascent to Black Elk Peak from Sylvan Lake in Custer State Park. Sara told us making it to the top -- which involves numerous switchbacks and hiking through a pine forest -- is an accomplishment with stunning views of Custer State Park and South Dakota’s Black Hills from over 7,200 feet. The area’s wildlife is abundant, so Sara recommends packing your binoculars, “as you never know what you’ll see.” Read her other best hikes to experience in South Dakota recommendations here.

Benton Falls in Tennessee.


Chestnut Mountain Area And Benton Falls

Distance: Varies, Difficulty: Varies

Talk to any hiker, and odds are, their favorite Tennessee hike is in Great Smoky Mountain National Park. However, if you’re hiking in Tennessee, you owe it to yourself to head to the far southeastern corner of the state, only a few miles from the North Carolina and Georgia borders. In the Chestnut Mountain area, Robert recommends taking the trail from the Chilhowee Recreation Area in the north or from the Parksville Lake Campground to the south, making sure you make your way to beautiful Benton Falls one way or another.

Find more of his recommendations for the most beautiful hikes in Tennessee here.

The Katy Trail in Dallas, Texas.


City Trails: Dallas And Austin

Distance: Varies, Difficulty: Easy

The 7.5-mile Katy Trail in Dallas and the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Hike-And-Bike Trail in Austin offer escapes from the traffic and noise of these big Texas cities. Get outside and enjoy only-in-Texas cityscapes on either of these trails. Sage, whose travels take her to Texas frequently, told us, “They make it easy for me to get outside and get active before and after the workday just minutes from my hotel.” For less-urban trail recommendations, see Sage’s picks for eight other fantastic hikes in Texas.

The Queen's Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon, Utah.


Queen’s Garden/Navajo Loop Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park, Bryce

Distance: 2.9 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Do not miss the Queen’s Garden and Wall Street/Navajo Loop combination trail in Bryce Canyon National Park. It leads through gorgeous hoodoos, under natural arches, and through red rock tunnels to the bottom of Bryce Canyon, and Queen’s Garden displays hoodoos of all shapes and sizes. Emese told us one resembles a garden and Queen Victoria, hence the name. “Scenery changes on the bottom of the canyon, where you walk through a flat area in the shadow of cottonwood trees. Reaching Wall Street might be the most spectacular area of this trail, as you walk in a narrow opening in the shadow of high, towering rocks. On the way out, stops around each bend offer gorgeous views of the canyon below. Though the climb out is steep, overall, the hike is pleasant and not too strenuous if you take it slow.”

Emese recommends these other gorgeous hikes in Utah, too.

The Quechee Gorge Dewey Pond Trail in Vermont.


Quechee Gorge Dewey Pond Trail, Quechee Gorge State Park, Hartford

Distance: 1.4 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Quechee Gorge Dewey Pond Trail in Quechee Gorge State Park is a wide and inviting out-and-back trail, the first third of which is ADA accessible. As you follow the Ottauquechee River, there are benches for quiet moments during which you can enjoy scenic vistas and the sound of water rushing through the gorge. While this hike is rated easy, there is one section that has a noteworthy incline that’s marked by roots and rocks. Otherwise, Sandi told us it’s the perfect spot for a quiet Northeast nature walk. See Sandi’s other picks for most stunning hikes in Vermont here.

The Whiteoak Canyon Trail in Virginia.


Whiteoak Canyon Trail, Shenandoah National Park, McGaheysville

Distance: 7 Miles, Difficulty: Hard

Most avid hikers consider Shenandoah National Park a bucket-list destination. With more than 500 miles of trails, it sweeps across portions of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the charming town of Charlottesville, Virginia, and Whiteoak Canyon Trail is rugged magic. Erika told us you’ll face a steep incline on this seven-mile trail, but the payoff comes when you meander past six incredibly beautiful waterfalls. If you want to spend more time on the trail in Virginia, don’t miss these 12 best hikes.

Views from the Horseshoe Bend Trail in Washington.


Horseshoe Bend Trail, Mount Baker National Forest, Deming

Distance: 2.8 Miles, Difficulty: Easy

Horseshoe Bend Trail is easy to access from the road, but Emese can attest to the fact that this trail had fewer visitors than some of the better-known trails in the state, which means you’ll hopefully have some solitude on this relatively easy walk. The trail follows the rushing river through a dense, ancient forest filled with mossy trees. It’s an easy walk for about half of the way and will give you plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the sounds of the rushing river that’s surrounded by the lush green of the Washington forest. Visiting in August, Emese said she found wild raspberries on the shore and spent time watching squirrels running up and down the trees. “Peeking out from the trees, the view of distant mountains beyond the river surrounded by all this lush green formed some of the most beautiful sights I could imagine. Passing through tunnels of green moss-filled trees with the sound of the river fading in the background, the second part of the trail narrows and is overgrown in a few places, making it just a bit challenging and giving me the impression of being in deep, lush forested fairyland. Overall, for relatively little effort you are rewarded with some of the most gorgeous vistas of the Pacific Northwest.”

Emese told us she loves all the gorgeous hikes in Washington State for different reasons, so read up for more inspiration!

Views from the Maryland Heights Loop in West Virginia.

West Virginia

Maryland Heights Loop, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park

Distance: 5 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

The Maryland Heights Loop brings history and stunning views together in this can’t-miss West Virginia hike. The trail’s length ensures an immersive experience, and there’s a lot to do in the historic Harpers Ferry area. Robin says this, plus the stunning views and the fact that the loop brings you back to your starting point, give this hike bonus points. See her other picks for wonderful hikes in West Virginia here.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin.


Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Verona (And Elsewhere Across The State)

Distance: 1,000 Miles, Difficulty: Varies

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail offers everything you could want in a Wisconsin hike, and it can be accessed from points across the state. Wander through forests, prairies, meadows, and lakes, and witness Wisconsin’s unique glacial landscape at every turn. In the winter, Sue and Diana love snowshoeing on the Verona segment and said there are so many different trailheads that you will be able to enjoy hiking the trail no matter how long or challenging of a hike you’re after. Looking for a less mammoth trail? Check out their other picks for best hikes to experience in Wisconsin.

The Phelps Lake Trail in Moose, Wyoming.


Phelps Lake Trail, Moose

Distance: 4.4 Miles, Difficulty: Moderate

Spectacular views of the mountains and the fact that this trail is lightly trafficked (as opposed to many of the more popular trails in Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone) make this trail a favorite hiking location in Wyoming. Moose, deer, and other wildlife frequent the area, which is shaded by towering evergreen trees. The hike leads you in to Phelps Lake, which looks straight out of a storybook. Sara recommends making this hike between May and September and wearing layers if you start in the morning, as the air can warm quite quickly. If you want to hike in the national parks or elsewhere in the state, consider these nine wonderful hikes in Wyoming.

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