Long, short, easy, nearly impossible—no matter your skill level, there’s a hiking trail somewhere across the country with your name on it. When you’re ready to conquer new terrain, try one of these five recommendations. Happy trails to all!
Location: Acadia National Park, Maine
The Precipice Trail is a tough, steep climb—there’s a 1,000-foot incline in less than a mile—but its views of Acadia National Park and from the summit of Champlain Mountain make it worth the effort. Be on the lookout for a formerly endangered species of bird called the peregrine falcon as well as the Porcupine Islands scattered throughout Frenchman’s Bay—they get their name from their quill-like spruce trees.
Naches Peak Loop Trail
Location: Mt. Rainer National Park, Washington
Situated on the outskirts of Mt. Rainer National Park, the Naches Peak Loop is a 4½-mile hike that’s a good option for beginner hikes or groups with youngsters. The trail passes the shores of Tipsoo Lake, intertwines with the legendary Pacific Crest Trail, and boasts uninterrupted views of historic Mt. Rainier. Bonus: Meadows of vibrant wildflowers as far as the eye can see.
Teton Crest Trail
Location: Grand Tetons, Wyoming
Jackson Hole’s signature Teton Crest Trail spans 37 miles along the Teton Range, making for a moderate backpacking six-day trip. That gives you plenty of time to take in the alpine lakes and stunning craggy summits; if you go in the summer, you’ll also be treated to valleys bursting with mountain bluebells and lupine.
The Taconic Highlands
Location: Appalachian Trail, Massachusetts and Connecticut
You don’t have to head west for a hike with breathtaking views. Along the Appalachian Trail’s Taconic Highlands, you’ll see some of the East Coast’s best bits of nature: cliffs, cascading waterfalls, old-growth forests, and Mt. Everett (at 2,602 feet, it’s not quite Mt. Everest, but it’s still worth bragging about). Something you won’t see? For an incredibly peaceful 17-mile stretch, you won’t lay eyes on a single road.
Location: Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee
Who knew that a trail that’s just over 2½ miles round-trip could contain so much beauty? This gentle, well-worn path features small streams and brilliant wildflowers like white and yellow trillium, white violets, stitchwort, squawcorn, and Dutchman’s breeches. The star of the show is the 25-foot-tall Grotto Falls—it’s the only waterfall in Great Smoky Mountains National Park that you can walk behind, so take advantage.