The U.S. is blessed with endless spectacular scenery. From the rugged islands of the Atlantic coast to the purple mountains and red rock canyons of its interior, the country is full of natural beauty, and there’s no better way to experience it than by foot. Strap on your trail shoes and get ready to hike these eight scenic routes.
Cadillac North Ridge Trail, Acadia National Park, Maine
Wildflowers in the spring and stunning fall foliage make this hike on Mount Desert Island tempting, but it’s the end of the trail that makes it a must: the top of Cadillac Mountain is the first point in the continental U.S. to see the sunrise.
The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah
Bring a walking stick and waterproof shoes for this mesmerizing trip through Zion Canyon’s thinnest section, where the Virgin River flows between sheer rock walls 1,000 feet high. Flash flooding is frequent, so check with park rangers before you set out.
Tahoe Rim Trail, California and Nevada
This massive trail, which passes through California and Nevada as it loops around Lake Tahoe, offers unparalleled views of the lake’s azure waters and the surrounding peaks of the Sierra Nevada. Tackle it in sections or trek all 165 miles in one grand journey.
Cathedral Rock Trail, Sedona, Arizona
The spa town’s famous red rocks make it one of the most picturesque places in the whole country. This trail offers a stunning 360-degree view of the entire area at its end, which is well worth the strenuous hike. Bring plenty of water — the Arizona sun can be merciless.
Charlies Bunion Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina
This route forms part of the famed Appalachian Trail along the Tennessee–North Carolina border. Trek along it on a cloudy day and you might just witness the mysterious, beautiful fog that gives this most-visited national park its name.
Glacier Gorge Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
The alpine landscape in the Colorado Rockies doesn’t get much better than this path. Glacier Gorge Trail takes hikers past beautiful Alberta Falls before it hits a junction about a mile in—here, you can continue to either Mills Lake or the Loch, but both trails lead to more stunning water features.
Lost Lake Trail, Chugach National Forest, Alaska
The list of jaw-droppingly gorgeous trails in Alaska is as long as the state is large. We chose this one due to its variety of environments: The trail begins in temperate rainforest and takes hikers past turquoise lakes and then through mountain meadows where flowers bloom in warmer weather.
Grinnell Glacier Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
Here’s one scenic view that may not exist in 10 years. Thanks to global warming, this national park’s namesake glaciers are rapidly receding, down to just 25. Without meltwater to feed them, the turquoise lakes and stunning foliage on the trail may also disappear. So hike it while you can.