The United States of America is so much more than just hamburgers, baseball and homemade apple pie; the third largest continent on the planet is also home to some of the most breathtaking, mind-blowing and downright beautiful national parks and natural landscapes in the world. Whether you’re a lifelong resident of the USA or simply visiting, there are plenty of must-visit hiking spots that should be pushed straight to the top of your list.
Due to the country’s enormous size, few people are lucky enough to be able to travel from one side of the States to the other simply for a walk. Therefore, we’ve covered fantastic trails and hiking spots from the West Coast, East Coast and middle America, including mountains, deserts and waterfalls. There’s something to suit everybody here!
A trip to the Silver State is, more often than not, associated with visiting Las Vegas. Sin City pulls in over 50 million visitors each year, many of them visiting the casinos, A-lister residency shows and all you can eat buffets. However, there is another side to this hot and dusty state and walking the Calico Basin Trail is a great way to see it. This is not a long route, making it perfect for those who aren’t used to intense hiking trails; however, it does involve rocky ground underfoot and scrambling is necessary in some places, so bear that in mind before you set off. All the hard work is worth it though, for the chance to see the crazy rock formations along the way, the wide open spaces stretching out on all sides and the view of Las Vegas on the horizon once you reach the top. Plus, if you’re keen to sample some of the entertainment that Vegas is famous for, then there’s nothing to stop you logging on and accessing all the best activities right from your phone. It’s a win-win!
Just 20 miles away from the infamous town of Salem, you’ll find Silver Falls State Park. This park is home to plenty of hiking trails, including the fantastic South Falls path that takes you behind a 177-foot waterfall. Magical! There are a total of 10 waterfalls in the area and you can experience them all by walking the Trail of Ten Falls. This 8 mile loop is the perfect day walk to take in some absolutely breathtaking views, and it exists mostly across level ground so it’s pretty accessible as far as hikes go. This doesn’t meant that it lacks in excitement, beautiful scenery or steep inclines though; you’ll still definitely feel like you’ve had a work out, but it’s not going to require any scrambling across loose scree or getting lost as the trail markers run out.
Enchanted Rock is a gorgeous pink granite mountain standing slap bang right in the middle of Texas. The State Natural Area that surrounds it is less than a 2 hour drive from Austin and is easily accessible by road, making this walk a great idea for a day out from the big city. The gentle dome shape of the mountain itself may look unassuming, but don’t be fooled – this mountain still presents a challenge to hikers and climbers alike. If you opt for the walk up the Rock, then you’ll need determination, a moderate level of fitness and a head for heights. The climb and descent should only take about 90 minutes in total, depending on how long you stop to admire the view; however, there is a loop trail which runs around the mountain which should take about 2-3 hours to complete if you fancy something a bit longer (and with less incline). Enchanted Rock gets its name from the tales told about it by local indigenous tribe the Tonkawa; many of these are ghost stories involving harrowing deaths, screaming spirits and metamorphosis. It’s certainly an interesting place!
The pull of New York state lies in the deep green forests, winding rivers and, of course, the famous lakes contained in its vast landscape. On the banks of the Hudson River is Bear Mountain State Park, named after the peak at its centre. There are some great hiking trails on offer here, with the path up to the top of the peak itself promising hours of climbing, scrambling, hiking fun. Although it does tend to be quite busy, this pays off as the trail is well maintained and clearly signposted. You’ll pass by lakes, climb up hand-laid stone steps, walk under waving forests of trees, discover wild flowers and come out at the peak where you can enjoy the well-deserved 360° view of the surrounding countryside. There is certainly plenty to discover along the way with this hike, and during part of it you will join the world famous Appalachian Trail. The high footfall in this area makes it a great place to connect with other walkers and swap stories – or be content with a simple wave of acknowledgement before continuing onwards and upwards.