10 of the Best Day Hikes in the Appalachian Mountains

One of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, the Appalachians are entirely underrated as an outdoor destination!

Hiking Difficult, Severe, Extreme

Also in Georgia, United States of AmericaMaine, United States of AmericaNew Hampshire, United States of AmericaNorth Carolina, United States of AmericaTennessee, United States of AmericaVirginia, United States of America

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The Appalachian Trail along Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire
The Appalachian Trail along Franconia Ridge in New Hampshire Photo: Jeff Pang

Description

The entire expanse of the Appalachian Mountains is an entirely underrated region of the country, and one of the oldest mountain ranges on planet Earth. "Though not as tall nor as steep as the mountains of the American West, the slopes and summits of the Appalachians are uniquely varied, with everything from dense temperate forest to barren alpine tundra," says adventure travel writer Jesse Weber.

While it seems like the Rocky Mountains—and the Western USA in general—get all the hype, the Appalachians are home to epic outdoor adventures of every stripe. From mountain biking to rock climbing, and from day hikes to the most famous thru-hike in the world, you can find almost every type of adventure imaginable without leaving the East.

And those adventures are not easy by any stretch of the imagination. "The hiking is notoriously difficult. . .with endless roots and rocks to contend with, and anywhere in the Appalachians can be subject to mud and miserable weather," says Weber. "In the eastern U.S., it can rain for days on end at any time of year," he warns.

While, of course, the Appalachian Trail is an adventure of a lifetime, what if you don't have the time to dedicate to a 5-7 month thru-hike? And what if you aren't even interested in a several-day section hike? The answer: head out into the mountains for a day hike!

In this guidebook, we've rounded up 10 of the very best hikes in the Appalachian Mountains that can be completed in a day or less. Some of these routes, like the Presidential Traverse, would make for ambitious single-day hikes, with very little time for sleep on that particular day. Others, like the Precipice Trail, offer gorgeous views and plenty of challenge, and yet can still be completed in just a couple of hours.

Whatever your flavor and desired length of hike, this list of 10 epic East Coast hikes will both inspire you to leave the comfort of home and deliver you to one of the most epic landscapes in the Appalachians!

Routes included

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