With over 84 million acres of land to choose from, there are thousands of hikes and trails in America’s national parks. From dirt paths, eroded by human passage over hundreds of years, to well-trodden tourist trails that sometimes attracts hundreds of visitors a day – there’s plenty of options for novice hikers and experts alike.
The terrain too is also as varied as you can imagine, from trails that cross glaciers to winding paths through titanic forests or past incredible natural rock formations. America’s National Parks really do run the full range of environments and stunning scenery that this diverse continent has to offer. Here are just a few choices that you can set out and hike today – if you’re in the area.
Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
One of the hardest trails in this entire park, Angel’s Landing has ½ mile long sections where chains and footholds had to be put in by park staff to help hikers. However, it makes up for this sheer difficulty with unparalleled views across the majestic Zion Canyon and beyond. Prospective hikers are encouraged to visit during the warmer seasons and pack lots of water. Not for the faint-hearted this one – but certainly worth the hard work when you get to the top.
Tall Trees Trail, Redwood National Park, California
This trail suggests exactly what you’re going to get from it. Namely, a lot of very tall trees. Known for the titanic General Sherman redwood, Redwood National Park is also host to some more secluded but nevertheless still impressive groves.
This particular trail is limited to only 50 visitors a day, and passes the location of Libbey Tree, which was once the tallest in the world. The current title holder is also rumoured to be nearby, but record breaking trees do not often have their exact locations exposed to the public. Regardless, this sedate and reverential 4-mile forest trail should still be a great day out for hikers of any age or persuasion.
Exit Glacier, Kenaj Fords National Park, Alaska
This spectacular 0.6 mile walk along the bottom of an ancient glacier is only a 15-minute drive away from Seward, Alaska, making it one of the most accessible glacier walks in the world. Visitors can see the sobering demarcation of the glacier’s retreat as warming climes have pushed it back up the mountains the ice originally flowed from, as well as spectacular views from the bottom of the sheet. More experienced hikers could opt for the Harding Ice Field trail. At about 8.4 miles, this challenging uphill hike offers unbelievable views of the 700km2 Harding Ice Field.
With 35 different named glaciers viewable from the top, the 3500-foot ascent should be well worth the trek – for those climbers that can manage it. Visitors should be wary of packing appropriate clothing for their journey should they attempt the longer hike, as it can get very cold surrounded by ice and at high elevations.