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The 10 Best Hiking Destinations in North America

The Best Places to Hike in North America

Hiking is good for your body, mind, and spirit. Being a cardiovascular activity, it’s beneficial for your heart and lungs. And there’s also evidence to suggest that time in nature can reduce the symptoms of depression and simply make you happier.

Whether you’re into hiking for the exercise or for the exposure to gorgeous views, our top 10 list has several jaunts that may be worth checking out.

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Bruce Trail, Ontario

Bruce Trail, Ontario

Bruce Trail traverses roughly 560 miles through central and southern Ontario, Canada. Along its path are waterfalls, forests, Lake Ontario, Georgian Bay, and even access to Niagara Falls.

There are over 100 waterfalls to explore along the Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail. The hike between Webster's Falls and Tew's Falls in Dundas is one of my favorite stretches of trail. Not only are the waterfalls spectacular, but the path between them offers breathtaking views of the Spencer Gorge.
– Lauren, Justin + Lauren. Tweet her @JustinLaurenXO

We recommend checking out the waterfalls, and the Sydenham Lookout to Webster’s Falls trail offers some of the best views. This almost 7-mile hike takes you past forest, smaller waterfalls, and Tew’s Falls, which at 40 meters is the highest waterfall in Hamilton.

Get trail information here.

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Old Rag Mountain, Virginia

Old Rag Mountain, Virginia

Hiking Old Rag Mountain is not for the faint of heart. According to Shenandoah National Park, it’s their most popular but also their most dangerous hiking option. But with that danger comes great reward. Just make sure you’re approaching this climb with the attention to safety it deserves.

I have hiked this trail in every season and it never ceases to amaze and challenge me, whether I'm hiking through its beautiful wildflowers, vibrant fall foliage, ice crystal cascades, or, of course, its signature rock scramble.
– Jenn, The Green Parent. Tweet her @thegreenparent

The climb is about 8 miles, round trip. You spend the first 2 miles on a wooded trail that gets increasingly steep. Then, prepare for adventure. You’ll have to scramble up boulders and squeeze through tight passages to make it to the summit. There, you’re rewarded with an amazing view of the national park and the Virginia wilderness.

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Get trail information here.

Copper Canyon, Chihuahua

Copper Canyon, Chihuahua

Named one of the most epic hikes in the world by “National Geographic” magazine, the Barrancas del Cobre (Copper Canyon) in Mexico is actually a series of canyons in the Chihuahuan Desert. Several of the canyons in the region are deeper than Arizona’s Grand Canyon, and the potential for hiking is great.

My favorite hike in the region would be from Creel to Divisadero via the Tararecua, Copper, and Urique Canyons. This trek has it all – incredible hot springs and swimming holes, 2,000 foot rock walls, challenging terrain, and sweeping vistas.
– Cam Honan, The Hiking Life. Tweet him @TheHikingLife

The entire route is close to 40 miles, but you don’t have to hike the entire canyon region to get a taste of the beauty. The Tararecua Canyon is one of the more popular in the area, and also one of the most challenging. Just don’t get caught in the rainy season, as this canyon is often swept up in flash floods.

Get trail information here.

Cape Henry Trail, Virginia

Cape Henry Trail, Virginia

First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, Virginia is so named because it’s where English settlers first landed on U.S. soil in 1607. There are nine trails in the park, covering about 19 miles. Cape Henry Trail is the longest, at 6 miles.

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Though this park is near the beach, you’ll spend much of this hike among the trees. There are a number of restrooms and vending areas, making it a good option for folks who don’t necessarily want to “rough it.” When you’ve completed the trail, you can cross over Atlantic Avenue to leave the park and visit the boardwalk.

Get trail information here.

John Muir Trail, California

John Muir Trail, California

Another long hike, the John Muir Trail is 211 miles in its entirety. But you don’t have to pack up for a several months’ stay if that’s not your style. Because the trail is so long, there are many opportunities for hikers to jump on, get their fill of amazing views, and be home by nightfall.

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Hard to really pick a favorite spot on the John Muir Trail, as it's all pretty stunning, but I imagine no one could argue with me if I said the days that pass under the Ritter Range in the northern section of the trail could be my favorites.
– Ian Elman, guide for Southern Yosemite Mountain Guides

If you access the trail in Yosemite National Park, you can make a day trip out of the Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall trails, seeing two of the most beautiful waterfalls in this iconic national park. These are tough hikes, but the views are worth the effort. You’ll hit the Vernal Fall Footbridge after about 1.6 miles of hiking and reach the peak of Nevada Fall after about 5.4 miles.

Get trail information here.

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Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

Kalalau Trail, Hawaii

The breathtaking Kalalau Trail in Kauai follows the coast of the island for jaw-dropping views throughout. The entire trail is about 11 miles, and is the only way to access several sections of this coast by land.

Don’t let this coastal hike fool you: It’s treacherous, not a walk on the beach. There are rugged cliffs, waterfalls, deep valleys, and fast-moving streams. Though an experienced hiker could possibly tackle the whole thing in a single day, we recommend breaking it into day trip sections, like the 5-mile trek between Hanakoa and Kalalau Beach.

Get trail information here.

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Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Located in the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Red River Gorge has several hiking options. In all, the park boasts about 600 miles of trails through lush forest and on rocky cliffs. It’s part of the Smoky Mountains, which means some of the more dangerous and challenging hikes also feature the best views.

Because there are so many trails in the Red River Gorge, it’s hard to pick a favorite, which is part of the reason why this region made our list. Choose from several shorter trails in proximity to one another, to create a hike as long (or as short) as you want. We recommend seeing the Double Arch and Natural Bridge in your ventures.

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Get trail information here.

Caldron Lake, Alberta

Banff National Park in Alberta is the oldest national park in Canada, and the third oldest national park in the world. The park is in the Rocky Mountain range and features the peaks, forests, and beautiful waterways that it is famed for.

Hiking Caldron Lake should take between six to eight hours. You’ll gain over 900 feet in elevation during the admittedly tough hike, but be rewarded with crystal blue waters, craggy, rocky cliffs, and waterfalls. Keep an eye out for mountain goats and all the views of the Wapta Icefield.

Get train information here.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake is the deepest in the United States, and is some of the clearest fresh water in the world, according to the National Park Service. The trails in Crater Lake National Park stretch some 90 miles in all, giving hikers ample choice when it comes to how to spend their day. The Pacific Crest Trail, which is over 400 miles long, passes through the park too.

Garfield Peak is one of the best trails, but you’ll have to work for the views. It’s almost 3.5 miles round trip and one of the steeper climbs. But you’ll be rewarded with views of the lake and Wizard island from the top of this 8,054-foot summit.

Get trail information here.

Highline Trail, Montana

Highline Trail, Montana

With 700 miles of trails lined by mountains, meadows, lakes, and forest, Glacier National Park offers some of the most pristine views in the United States. There are trail options of any length imaginable, but we most recommend the Highline Trail.

The 13-mile trek, which follows the Continental Divide, is somewhat strenuous, but you don’t have to tackle the entire thing. You could do the Haystack, a 7-mile out and back route. In any case, pack your camera, because you’ll be rewarded with beautiful mountain views and may even catch a glimpse of some bighorn sheep or mountain goats.

Get trail information here.

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