5 Most Beautiful Hikes in America

One of the best things about America is the wilderness. It’s so vast and varied that you can find any landscape you can ever think of, right here in your backyard. And sometimes, you just need to go get out there and hike. Whether it’s a two-mile day trip or a month-long endeavor, here are some of the best destinations in the country for packing up, heading out, and making friends with nature.

Jay, VT 284706498_0241a7dcba_b
Jay is one of the northernmost towns in Vermont, right across the Canadian border. The town itself is incredibly tiny and quaint, but it’s the starting (or ending) point of one of the oldest and most majestic trails in the country: Vermont’s Long Trail. It runs the entire length of the state (270 miles), but it’s just as easy to hop on the trail for a few miles. If you’re in Jay, try your hand at Jay Peak during the summer. During the winter, it becomes the focal point of local skiing.

Nebo, NC 11177814173_f71da3112f_k
Nebo itself is nothing terribly special, but it is home to the greater Pisgah National Forest. Over 500,000 acres of heavily forested slopes with all the waterfalls, whitewater rivers, and hiking trails you can imagine make Pisgah a national treasure. Next time you’re in Charlotte and jonesing for some nature, it’s worth the 90-mile drive.

Jacks River Trail, GA 60782471_50048933eb_b
This 16-mile trail runs through the rugged and remote Cohutta wilderness in northern Georgia. If you want something a little more manageable, opt for the 9.3-mile out-and-back hike that take you through multiple creek and river crossings, eventually ending at the parking lot near Dally Gap. The beauty is unparalleled, and it’s the perfect way to spend a weekend.

Blanca Lake, WA 4950085223_3b042de77e_b
This 7.5-mile (round-trip) hike isn’t for the faint of heart. It is mostly uphill and pretty difficult. But all your hard work will be rewarded halfway through, when you finally reach Blanca Lake, a beautiful, emerald-colored lake in a valley of some of Washington’s most beautiful mountains. There’s absolutely nothing like it.

Havasupai Falls, AZ Havasupai
There are a million different hikes one can take on while at the Grand Canyon, and they’re all worth it. But if you’re willing to put in a lot of work for a lot of reward, nothing beats the trek down to Havasupai Falls. From the Hualapai Hilltop down to Supai, it’s 8 miles, and another 2 miles to the campground. It can be dusty, dry, and hot. But once you reach the Havasupai oasis, it will be totally worth it. A 100-foot waterfall cascades into a blue spring that stays at 70 degrees year-round. You’ll need reservations and a permit to hike down. And if the hike back up the Canyon sounds too daunting, you can arrange for a helicopter to take you up!

Highline Trail, MTGlacierPark
The Highline Trail is a near 12-mile hike that takes you along the Continental Divide in Glacier National Park in Montana. The trail follows some near-sheer cliffs and rocky landscapes to green peaks and fields of wildflowers. Eventually, you’ll reach the chalet, where you can buy some drinks and snacks and recoup with fellow hikers before finishing the hike. John Muir said to dedicate at least a month to Glacier National Park, but if you can’t do a month, a long weekend will be just as grand.