The 5 Best National Parks for Hiking

Around the USA, you can visit countless National Parks. For years, there have been visitors to the Rocky Mountain National Park, Yosemite National Park and many of the other popular places to visit.

Nowadays, with the increase in hiker numbers, there are more places found away from the regular haunts.

Hikers want to experience something different. While they may have some of the National Parks in their bucket list, there are lots they can experience, before they need to consider that.

There are epic trails such as the Appalachian Trail that begins right at the beginning of the Shenandoah River and leads you through the Shenandoah National Park.

However, here we want the hikes that take hikers away from their usual haunts and offer a once in a lifetime experience.

Read on in no order of preference, to find the top 5 National Parks that contain some of the best hiking trails in the US.

5 Best Hikes in America

Zion National Park

1. Zion National Park

Based in Southern Utah, the Zion National Park is unique in the views it offers. When trekking the National parks numerous trails, you can quickly see why it is one of the most popular National Parks in the country.

There are lots of hikes that can test the most experienced, many canyoneering paths and lots more besides.

You can experience some of the best vistas imaginable, especially if you make it up to the Canyon Overlook, which is one of the top trails in the park.

You can walk along the bottom of 2,000-foot cliffs, and encounter the many waterfalls in the region. Pine Creek waterfall, being in a secluded spot, which is worth a dip.

A good deal of hikers combines Zion with Bryce Canyon National Park, which isn’t too far away. Nevertheless, for out and out the beauty and things to do, Zion edges in front.

To top this, you can travel a little further than Bryce and check out everyone’s favorite, the Grand Canyon National Park.

This deserves a list all of its own because the Grand Canyon National Park offers so much, and could almost comprise the others on this list.

Between the three, you have some of the best National Parks for Hiking. If you are heading east, then for a quick trek to some unique photo opportunities, is a visit to Arches National Park. The stone arches deliver a unique experience, and can be just the thing to begin, or end your trip to Zion.

Glacier National Park

2. Glacier National Park

Tucked away on the Canadian border in Northwestern Montana is the Glacier National Park. There are over 1 million acres, and it comes with two mountain ranges, which are Rocky Mountain sub-ranges.

There are over 130 lakes, thousands of different animals to see as you hit the hiking trails, and with over 734 miles to explore, there are lots of hiking for beginners as well as trails to tax the most experienced hikers.

Some of the more renowned trails in the Glacier National Park are the Highline Trail, Grinnell Glacier, Pitamakan – Dawson Loop Trail, Ptarmigan Tunnel, Avalanche Lake, and St Mary and Virginia Falls.

It was back in 2011 the first person Jake Bramante covered all 734 miles of trail in one summer. Many of the lakes include mountainous ranges with lakes at the foot of the cliffs.

The closest you can come to this kind of experience is if you visit The Crater Lake National Park in Oregon that was formed by a collapsed volcano.

It doesn’t matter which of the trails you take; you are served up great views, which are quite a bit different than you get in other National parks. Just be prepared with your backpacking and hiking essentials in case there is a bit of bad weather.

Yellowstone National Park

3. Yellowstone National Park

There is often a comparison of which is the better, Yellowstone National Park, or Yosemite. Yellowstone is almost three times the size, so Yosemite falls into second place. In addition, Yellowstone was the first National Park in the world and the largest in the lower 48 states of the USA.

The park covers 2.2 million acres and spans three states so that you can visit from multiple areas.

You can visit the park at any time of the year, and take the ridge trail to see any of the 290 waterfalls, or other pastimes when there is snow on the ground.

Animals you can see on some of the best hikes in the park are Bison, Bald Eagles, Elk, Moose and the odd Grizzly here and there.

It may be sitting in a massive supervolcano, yet there is no chance of it going off just yet, and the closest you get to an eruption is the enormous geysers that let off steam every now and again.

If you have had your fill of Yellowstone, you can venture to the closest. Grand Teton National Park is a mountaineer’s paradise. Grand Teton the highest point of the range at 13,775 feet. The mountain national park connects to Yellowstone as it only sits 10 miles to the south. Together, you have the best National Parks in the region, and they both offer something unique to each other.

Acadia National Park

4. Acadia National Park

Right across the country on the Atlantic coast sits the Acadia National Park. It is one of the most popular and most visited parks because it has some of the best hikes in the United States.

You can encounter some of the best trails that take you across the ocean shoreline into the deciduous woodland among the coniferous trees. There are countless lakes to see and famous wetlands.

The Acadia National Park may be smaller than others may, but it doesn’t lack in what it offers. Half of Mount Desert Island is preserved by the park, along with many smaller islands in the vicinity.

It was the first National Park to sit east of the Mississippi and is the only one in the Northeastern United States. For early morning hikers, one of the first locations, to watch the sunrise in the entire USA can greet you.

If you venture close to the shore, you can visit Thunder Hole where crashing waves throw spray into the air. Echo Lake is the only freshwater lake in the park, but the Somes Sound is the attention-grabbing landmark.

This five-mile fjord was formed during the glacial period. Since then, it has made a lasting impression on the island with the U-shaped valleys as a result. In this part of the country, you can feast your eyes on black bears, white-tailed deer and moose among others.

Hiking is one of the many activities during the summer along with kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking or a spot of rock climbing.

Wintertime comes with skiing, snowmobiling and ice fishing for those keen anglers who want a rest from paving the snow-covered trails.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

5. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Offering the best hikes in America, it is easy to see why the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited National Park in the country.

With water, wind and erosion, the landscape continually changes in the Great Smoky Mountains. It is one of the oldest mountain ranges, and there are many activities and things to see in the park.

You are greeted, by endless ridges of endless forests, which sit on the borders of North Carolina and Tennessee. The Smoky Mountains got their name from the morning fog that graces the area without fail.

There is plenty of beauty and rich Appalachian history. Over 80 historic buildings, wildflower displays and teeming wildlife deliver one of the best experiences for any hiker.

The park is split in two, and there are two visitor centers for the Smoky Mountains National Park. Oconaluftee and Sugarlands sit on either side of the state line, yet separated by miles of forests.

If you are into waterfalls, then you can head to the larger ones such as Mingo, Rainbow, Abrams, Laurel and Grotto, each drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors per year.

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will be inundated with choice for your trails because there are so many. You can select from Clingmans Dome, which is the highest peak.

Mount Cammerer is in the top three park hikes, and you are greeted by a vast array of different views. You will be able to walk around the lookout tower on the summit and take a quick rest before heading back down.

Alum Cave Trail, Cades Cove Loop, Ramsey Cascades and Shuckstack Firetower are among the more popular trails you can venture.

The Smoky Mountains will never disappoint, and there is something for everyone to enjoy.

In Texas? Read our Hiking in Texas guide

The 5 Best National Parks for Hiking

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