Whether you like sticking to the trails or wandering off the beaten path, there is one thing that’s certain: hiking feeds the spirit. Is it the breathtaking views, the physical labor, or the reward of making it to your destination, looking back at the path you traveled, and knowing you traversed all that distance? This combination of awe and accomplishment drives us and millions of people out to the wilderness every year.
No matter your level of experience, North America’s vast outdoors has something to offer just about everyone. When considering a hike or even an extended backpacking trip, preparation is key. Understanding your physical capabilities and having the tools you need can make all the difference between an amazing experience and one that will have you shunning the outdoors forever. Rather than individual trails, we’ve chosen some general areas to give you an idea of where you can find some of the most highly rated, most talked about hiking routes in the United States.
Glacier National Park - Montana
It goes without saying that there’s no list of “Best Hikes” in the United States that doesn’t include a trip to Montana’s Glacier National Park, and for good reason. With over 700 miles of trails to explore, there’s simply not enough time to take in the sweeping vistas, crystalline lakes, or endless meadows of purple Lupine flowers, but that does mean there is a perfect hike for everyone. In fact, there are even wheelchair accessible trails available! Botanists, biologists, geologists and just plain old folks who can appreciate a really, really good view will experience a serenity that will quite literally bring you back down to earth. When you reach the precipice, lake, or wherever your trail has taken you, we encourage you to stop, close your eyes, and take in a deep breath of that crisp alpine air - remember that feeling when you return back to your daily life. It’s a life saver.
Whether you’re looking for a short, low-incline route or a very strenuous path that will test even the most seasoned backpacker, the extravagant views of verdant greens and snow-capped peaks are your reward, and we promise there’s plenty for everyone.
Plan your visit here: https://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/index.htm
Shenandoah National Park - Virginia
Whiteoak Canyon - N. Lewis, NPS
The eastern coast of the United States tends to lose the limelight to the west’s vast popular hiking spots, but rest assured if you want to see another part of the North America, the east has plenty to explore. Shenandoah National Park in Virginia is home to several towering waterfalls, lush green hills, and even trails that pass through old farmlands. Have you ever seen the plump, violet spheres of the produced by huckleberry plant in the wild? As you make your way along the Appalachian Trail, you’ll encounter endless flora, including the infamous huckleberry bush, wild mint, and even flowers from the mustard family. Follow the Moormans River and you’ll find yourself in tranquil bliss, or carefully trek through the forest and catch glimpses of black bears in their natural habitat. When you stop to take it all in, remember to sit very still and mimic the calmness of the area surrounding you. If you blend in well enough, who knows, one of the park’s nearly 82 species of wild butterflies may land softly upon your backpack.
Give yourself a gift that keeps on giving and visit the breathtaking Shenandoah National Park. The hike may tire your legs, but we’re confident you’ll push through to keep experiencing those constant views of nature at its finest.
Plan your visit here: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/index.htm
Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming
Double rainbow and Lower Falls from Uncle Tom's Trail by Neal Herbert, NPS
As the very first National Park in America, it only made sense that we included Yellowstone on our list. While tourists may go just to see Old Faithful and take a tour without ever leaving their cars, there’s no better way to explore this truly spectacular region of the U.S. than to go on foot. Afterall, there’s nothing more exhilarating than hiking a few miles to a natural waterfall and seeing bison, elk, and other fauna at the watering hole while you stop to take in the magnificent views. In fact, no matter where you’re standing, we can guarantee that you can stop, spin around, and open your eyes to a landscape that will remind you exactly why we go to the outdoors.
The best part about Yellowstone is that it forces explorers and adventure seekers to respect their environment, and while it’s imperative that you respect the wilderness no matter where you are, this park has its own special ways of making sure visitors pay attention. As you travel along a trail, a brawny yet peaceful bison may just have you taking a detour, or a geyser may just violently erupt, leaving boiling water and a truly spectacular rainbow in its wake. When you go to Yellowstone, you’re not just visiting a place that’s out of this world, you’re experiencing the world as it should be.
Plan your visit here: https://www.nps.gov/yell/planyourvisit/index.htm
Bison herd with calves in Lamar Valley; Neal Herbert, NPS
We know what you’re thinking - that’s it? Don’t fear, this is only just one of many blogs we plan to do to help introduce beginners to the beauty of the outdoors, and maybe remind some more experienced hikers of the places they still need to cross off their bucket lists. Stick around to see if your favorite makes the list! And remember, the best hiker is the one who is prepared - so get out your gear list and stop by Bushman Expedition Outfitters for high-quality, durable clothing made to take you through any adventure.