Guidebook

25 of the Most Incredible Day Hikes in the United States

Experience the most beautiful landscapes in America on the nation's 25 best day hikes!

Description

The United States of America stretches from sea to shining sea (and beyond) with a landscape so incredibly diverse, it could take years of exploration before you even begin to wrap your mind around it. Residents of the US tend to take this diversity for granted, but if you compare the landscapes of the US to most other countries in the world… the variety is unparalleled.

Without leaving the nation's borders, you can enjoy ecosystems as stunning and unique as the Desert Southwest with its wide-open expanses of sagebrush and sand, towering rock formations, and deep canyons. You'll also find the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains, scraping the sky at over 14,000 feet. Head to the Northwest, and deep, dark rainforests teeming with life will make your head spin after the dry desert and harsh alpine environment. The Southeast is also home to a mountainous rainforest, but of an entirely different sort. In fact, the entire expanse of the Appalachian Mountains is a completely underrated region of the country, and one of the oldest mountain ranges on planet Earth. The coasts of California, the never-ending forests in the Great Lakes region, the glaciers of Alaska, the volcanoes and surf of Hawaii… it goes on and on and on. If you think you've seen it all, well… you haven't. It would take many, many lifetimes to lay your eyes on all of the natural wonders that the United States has to offer!

In this guidebook, I've attempted to round up 25 of the most incredible day hikes across the entire breadth of the United States. While you will undoubtedly notice that most of the selections are found in the Western USA, I took great pains to represent the East Coast, Alaska, and Hawaii as well. These hikes are spread all across the Union, meaning that you can likely find one without having to travel too far!

To truly slow down and soak in the beauty of the USA it would be best hike one (or all three) of its premiere long-distance trails: the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Continental Divide Trail. But in reality, few people can commit the time to complete a months-long thru-hike. So instead of rehashing all of the best backpacking routes in the country, each of the hikes detailed in this guidebook can be completed in a single day. Sure, some of these hikes would be very long days with little sleep, but others can be tackled end-to-end in just a couple hours.

Read through this list of the nation's very best hikes, and allow your mind to run wild. Let yourself dream. But once you've spent some time dreaming, get down to planning and make those dreams a reality!

Angels Landing
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Angels Landing

Zion National Park
2 - 3 hrs
7.2 km
532 m
532 m
Zion National Park's iconic vertigo-inducing hike to a heavenly view.
Severe
Private
Delicate Arch
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Delicate Arch

1 - 2 hrs
5.0 km
196 m
196 m
Hike to the iconic arch in Arches National Park.
Moderate
Private
Half Dome Day Hike
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Half Dome Day Hike

Yosemite National Park
1 day +
24.0 km
1,711 m
1,711 m
An exciting hike to the summit of one of North America's most iconic peaks.
Extreme
Private
Mount Whitney via Whitney Portal
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Whitney via Whitney Portal

1 day +
31.8 km
1,990 m
1,989 m
The famous day or overnight hike to stand atop the contiguous United States' highest summit.
Severe
Private
Bright Angel Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Bright Angel Trail

Grand Canyon National Park
3 - 4 hrs
14.5 km
118 m
1,447 m
Iconic trail from rim to river in the Grand Canyon.
Difficult
Private
South Kaibab Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

South Kaibab Trail

Grand Canyon National Park
6 - 7 hrs
20.2 km
1,481 m
1,492 m
A jaw-dropping journey into the Grand Canyon, and the most direct route from rim to river.
Difficult
Private
Summerland
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Summerland

Mount Rainier National Park
3 - 4 hrs
13.7 km
717 m
717 m
One of the most stunning day hikes in the state of Washington!
Difficult
Private
Highline Trail + Grinnell Glacier Overlook
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Highline Trail + Grinnell Glacier Overlook

Glacier National Park
5 - 6 hrs
21.0 km
754 m
1,483 m
Simply put: One of the best day hikes in the world.
Difficult
Private
Panorama Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Panorama Trail

Yosemite National Park
3 - 4 hrs
14.5 km
283 m
1,263 m
Hike at the brink of a huge waterfall and along the precipitous rim of Yosemite Valley.
Difficult
Private
Longs Peak - Keyhole Route
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Longs Peak - Keyhole Route

21.5 km
1,540 m
Standard route to the top of Longs Peak, the only 14er in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Moderate
Private
Devil's Garden
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Devil's Garden

2 - 3 hrs
11.1 km
307 m
293 m
The most difficult maintained trail in Arches National Park.
Severe
Private
Appalachian Trail: Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Appalachian Trail: Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch

1 day +
40.4 km
2,546 m
2,591 m
A perfect segment to shuttle, bagging several 4,000-footers along the way.
Severe
Private
McAfee Knob
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

McAfee Knob

Roanoke
3 - 4 hrs
12.5 km
571 m
570 m
Arguably the most iconic viewpoint on the Appalachian Trail!
Difficult
Private
Teton Crest Trail: North Fork Cascade Canyon to Leigh Lake Trailhead (via Cascade Canyon)
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Teton Crest Trail: North Fork Cascade Canyon to Leigh Lake Trailhead (via Cascade Canyon)

Grand Teton National Park
2 - 3 hrs
12.8 km
81 m
606 m
One final stretch through beautiful Cascade Canyon
Moderate
Private
Kalalau Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Kalalau Trail

1 day +
30.6 km
2,069 m
2,069 m
The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile (18 kilometre) trail along Nā Pali Coast of the island of Kauai (Hawaii) from Keʻe Beach to the Kalalau Valley. It is considered to be incredibly beautiful but also not without danger and should not be underestimated.
Difficult
Private
The Narrows
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Narrows

Zion National Park
3 - 4 hrs
14.2 km
489 m
489 m
One-of-a-kind hike through a flowing stream, between soaring sandstone walls, in one of the world's most dramatic slot canyons
Moderate
Private
Avalanche Peak
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Avalanche Peak

Yellowstone National Park
2 - 3 hrs
7.2 km
641 m
641 m
A strenuous climb with magnificent views across Yellowstone National Park.
Moderate
Private
Ptarmigan Tunnel
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Ptarmigan Tunnel

Glacier National Park
4 - 5 hrs
17.7 km
756 m
756 m
Hike through a historic tunnel at the top of the Ptarmigan Wall.
Difficult
Private
The DeCaLiBron
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The DeCaLiBron

Salida
3 - 4 hrs
11.3 km
1,028 m
1,028 m
Climb four 14ers in one hike!
Severe
Private
Druid Arch
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Druid Arch

3 - 4 hrs
15.7 km
450 m
450 m
One of the most popular hiking destinations in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.
Severe
Private
Precipice Trail Loop
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Precipice Trail Loop

1 - 2 hrs
3.3 km
370 m
370 m
Climb up metal ladders in cliffsides and skirt along exposed rock ledges on this death-defying hike!
Extreme
Private
Mount Healy Overlook Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Mount Healy Overlook Trail

2 - 3 hrs
8.1 km
556 m
556 m
Widely regarded as the best hike in Denali National Park!
Difficult
Private
Root Glacier Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Root Glacier Trail

3 - 4 hrs
15.3 km
636 m
636 m
One of Alaska's most incredible easy-to-access hikes!
Moderate
Private
The Wave
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

The Wave

2 - 3 hrs
10.5 km
446 m
446 m
Hike to the Desert Southwest's most famous photographic destination!
Difficult
Private
Lakes Trail
The best Adventures on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Lakes Trail

4 - 5 hrs
19.3 km
981 m
981 m
Widely regarded as one of the most incredible day hikes in the USA!
Difficult
Private