For some people, hiking is a passion, a goal or a lifetime pursuit. Many people use hiking as a pastime and a hobby. Still for others, it is an excuse to escape the crowded cities and worries of our nine to five lives.
Whatever the reason, venturing out into America's forests, snow covered mountains, and scenic river valleys to experience raw nature appeals to our adventurous spirit and fulfills the need to explore the untouched and unknown.
For these reasons America is known as one of the best destinations in the world for hiking.
In honor of that spirit, let's take a look at some of the best hiking trails in America.
Also known as the PCT, this 2,650 mile path passes through six eco-zones in North America. It includes three states, a thousand lakes, seven national parks, and nineteen major canyons.
Therefore, it is no surprise that the climate encountered on PCT can vary from sweltering desert heat to freezing arctic cold. Thousands of people come here every year to escape the stuffy cities and enjoy the splendor of western America.
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail is ambitious and on average takes six months. Hiking this trail in its entirety is a testament of willpower and courage.
However, for people who want to enjoy just a few hours on the trail, there are several paths with accessibility from San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.
The most famous trail in the United States starts in Georgia and ends in Maine. The Appalachian Trail is the longest marked trail in America with over 2,178 miles of forests and mountains. The hiking levels range from easy to severe.
Needless to say, you need to know what you are doing if you attempt this hike in its entirety. If you get caught in the mountains at the wrong time of the year, it can be deadly.
Many people who attempt to conquer the entire trail at once eventually give up. However, the trail is also marked off in segments, and some people dedicate their lives to marking off the trail one segment at a time.
One of the great features of the Appalachian trail is its friendliness. You often meet other like-minded hikers along the way. Many times, people will befriend and travel together for several days. There's even a complex system of communications, leaving notes for other hikers at designated spots.
Another characteristic that makes the Appalachian Trail special is the varying landscape from sweeping ocean views to snow covered mountain ranges. That in itself is impressive, but not nearly as impressive as the fact that the whole thing is maintained entirely by 6,000 volunteers spanning 12 states.
The mountain vistas of this rocky trail are well worth the 3,291 foot climb to the ultimate summit. Noted as one of the most spectacular views hosted by any hiking trail, the peak breaks forth in stunning mountains as far as the eye can see.
The scenery is beautiful throughout the year but truly exceptional during the fall when the vibrant colors of the changing trees stretch for miles off into the distance.
The hiking level is easy to challenging. For hikers who don't want to climb the entire distance but still experience the views, there is a short trail that starts from an upper parking lot located not far from the top.
Old Rag is also a highly visited rock climbing destination because of its granite cliff faces and range of difficulty. If you prefer mountains over forests, then Old Rag Mountain is the perfect trail for you.
Jacks River Trail found in the Cohutta Wilderness of North Georgia, is a river waterfall valley. Much shorter than the other trails, Cohutta is only a 6-mile hike.
The main reason that Jacks River Trail is so exceptional is because of the beautiful waterfalls, rich forest, and babbling rivers. This valley teems with beautiful coniferous trees, rare plants and a multitude of wildlife.
Blue Spring Loop in Alabama draws a great multitude of people looking for a serene and easy hike through a stunning forest. As the name implies, the trail is full of pristine cold spring waters that are part of a large natural spring.
You access the Blue Spring Loop through the South Loop of the Conecuh trail. This trail is unique to the others on this list because you will get the most out of this trail if you hike it in the winter months when the weather is cooler and insects are practically nonexistent.
You have to experience the crimson rocks of Zion Natural Park to actually believe them. The backcountry canyons are sheer, narrow, artistic in form and absolutely mind blowing.
Any hike through this national park can lead you to striking emerald pools, steep colorful ascents and amazing rock arches. The sandstone canyons and rivers of this park have become favorites for tourists, backpackers and recreational hikers of all skill levels.
This trail is perfect for people who want to veer off the beaten path and get in touch with nature in the raw. Why? Because there is no path! Hiking in Denali is like nothing you have ever experienced. The land is natural and untamed.
There are no marked trails at all. When hiking in Denali, you get dropped off somewhere in the untouched wilderness and you are on your own to hike wherever you see fit. This park is a true test; as the only limits are those that you set.
Keep in mind that during a hiking trek, you can run into wolves, grizzlies, caribou or moose. Gazing at the summit of Mt. McKinley or wading across the clear glacier streams, Denali fills you with wonder as you conquer the wilderness alone.
These are just a few of the many hiking trails stretching across our beautiful country and are well worth a visit. They will challenge you, push you to your limits, show you overwhelming landscapes and teach you more about yourself. It is an experience that is literally waiting right outside your door. So let's stop talking, and let's get hiking!
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Stephen Schreck is a world traveler, nomad, and adventure backpacker. Knowing a life of aimlessly wandering the globe in search of adventures was the only life for him he set out to make his dream his reality. Currently he is trying to conquer his fears and tackle his bucket list. Follow Stephen's adventures at A Backpacker's Tale or on social media on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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