Everyone has a few hikes that stand out in their mind as ones they will remember for a long time to come.
Here are six of our favorite and best hikes in North American thus far. Though they’re all different in distance they all offer a unique landscape and some level of challenge to them. But we all know that those are all things that make for a good hike! Enjoy!
THE PRECIPICE TRAIL
Location: Acadia National Park, Maine
Distance: 2.6 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Change: 850 ft.
The Precipice trail begins at the base of Champlain Mountain, which is the 6th tallest peak in Acadia National Park. Though this is a short hike it’s a strenuous via ferrata* style hike that feels more like rock climbing at times than hiking. There are numerous iron rungs, ladders, rails, and bridges that help you through the most exposed sections of the trail. This hike may be challenging for people who are afraid of heights, but is well worth the views from the accent and summit.
**via ferrata = Italian for “iron path”, is a protected climbing route using iron rungs to assist in the climb.
Location: Zion National Park, Utah
Distance: 5 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Change: 1,488 ft.
Angel’s Landing is possibly one of the United State’s most iconic adventure hikes and is well worth the possible scare factor! Starting from the valley in Zion NP the trail takes a steep ascent up switchbacks to a landing (hence the name). From there it’s an easy but exposed section of trail that traverses thin ledges with chain handrails out to the end of the ridge. Here you get sweeping views down either side of the valley giving a perspective of Zion NP unlike any other!
Location: Glacier National Park, Montana
Distance: 12.6 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Change: 1400 ft.
The hike to Cracker Lake starts at the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier NP, which is a beautiful vista in its own right, making it officially on the list of best hikes. From there the hike takes you up winding valleys that are full of lush plant life due to the large amounts of moisture from snowmelt. Finally, you emerge from dense forest to the breathtaking views of Cracker Lake, which is backed by the craggy faces of Mt. Siyeh and Allen Mountain. The milky blue lake is filled by snowmelt and beautifully contrasts the green ground coverage and blue skies. The trail takes you all the way to the far end of the lake where there are small sandy beaches. For those who are willing to brave the cold waters, a refreshing dip awaits.
Side note: If you plan to do this trail, bring Bear Spray. The entire hike traverses through Grizzly habitat and areas where bears are known to frequent for feeding in the tall vegetation. It’s recommended to hike with a group and make noise as you walk the trail to be sure you don’t startle an unsuspecting bear.
Location: Antelope Island State Park, Utah
Distance: Up to you
Elevation Change: Also up to you
How do you like those completely ambiguous stats in my description of the Fiery Furnace? Well, they’re very true. This “hike” is whatever you want to make of it. In order to enter the Fiery Furnace, you must obtain a backcountry hiking permit from Arches National Park. This area is popular and you will typically need to attain the permits the day before your trip. When you get the permit you will need to take a short class on the ecosystems in the area to be sure you’re safe and treating the fragile ecosystem within the Furnace accordingly.
The Fiery Furnace is a natural labyrinth of narrow passages between towering sandstone wall that run roughly North to South. There are small markers for a counter-clockwise route in the Furnace or you can choose from any of the many other possible paths. Getting lost is a real possibility because GPS devices and cell phones do not work well due to the towering sandstone walls. You can make the hike as easy or challenging as you want as you follow the fins to the Northern edge of the furnace.
OLOMANA THREE PEAKS TRAIL
Location: Kailua, Oahu, Hawaii
Distance: 4.4 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Change: 1739 ft.
This is a beautiful but highly trafficked hike that summits three lush fins in the windward side of Oahu. The hike is challenging due to the 3 steep climbs on sometimes very thin paths with steep strop off to each side. The foliage is just as much worth the hike as the 360-degree views of the bay below due to the high volume of wildflowers and dense native plant life that clings the sides of the ridges.
GROS MORNE SUMMIT HIKE
Location: Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, Canada
Distance: 10 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Change: 2611 ft.
I will be the first to admit how challenging this hike is. The elevation gain alone could speak for itself, but there are few hikes that can compare to this one. The hike starts in a dense forest laced with small rivers and creeks before getting to the base of the mountain. From there you cross a meadow to begin the climb up the choss pile on Gros Morne, which is the second highest peak on the island of Newfoundland. The quick and intense climb up unstable rocks is easier done with hiking poles to help you find sure footing. At the crest of the mountain, the 360-degree views open up the Bay of St. Lawrence and the mountain range that follows. The hike continues to the summit before leading you to the far edge of the summit and sweeping views of 10 Mile Pond below. The path continues and takes you down the back of Gros Morne and the unique alpine tundra landscape. The loop brings you back the meadow from before your climb.
It is recommended that you not attempt the hike if the weather has a chance of taking a turn. The summit is exposed and offers no protection from oncoming storms of any kind.