Hiking is having a huge come back, especially in the U.S. With the film adaption of Cheryl Strayed’s bestseller, Wild, hitting the box office, interest in long-distance hiking trails like the Pacific Crest Trail has spiked! Here are five of the best hiking trails in the U.S, the perfect challenge for your summer holidays.
Looking for a challenge this year? While you may already have your eyes on flights to the U.S. for your summer holidays, why not consider undertaking one of the country’s most iconic hiking trails? Pack your hiking shoes, your maps and your tent, it’s off to wild America we go!
Pacific Crest Trail
- Length: 2,663 miles
- Location: California, Oregon, Washington
It’s essential that you watch Wild starring Reese Witherspoon before you set out and plan your trip along this trail. The PCT starts in southern California and heads north through Oregon and into Washington State. Hiking the entire trail takes between 4 and 6 months and is a definite life-changing undertaking, as you can see in the film.
You can also follow the trail on horseback or bike. It’s recommended that hikers spend between 6-8 months preparing for their trip but you don’t have to hike the entire thing! The Bridge of the Gods that crosses the Columbia River is particularly impressive.
- Length: 2,185 miles
- Location: 14 states from Georgia to Maine
The Appalachian Trail isn’t the oldest or the longest trail in the U.S. but it certainly has a reputation as being the most user-friendly. The trail passes lots of towns and crosses lots of roads so access isn’t as difficult as say the Pacific Crest Trail. There are plenty of restaurants, hostels and shuttle services catering to hikers along the way. Plus there are sleeping huts placed along the way for hikers who don’t want the weight of a tent slowing them down.
- Length: 812 miles
- Location: Arizona, Utah
If you’ve ever wanted to explore the stunning but strange landscapes of the south-west desert, then this trail is the one to pick. It begins in Arches National Park and crosses through Canyonlands, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon and Zion National Park.
This trail isn’t recommended for amateurs however. Water can be scarce at certain times of the year and navigation skills are essential. Fewer than 10 people have tackled the entire trail but sections of it are extremely popular with day hikers and weekend backpackers.
Ozark Highlands Trail
- Length: 218 miles
- Location: Arkansas
For some reason this part of the country often gets overlooked by adventure travellers, but there is plenty of stunning scenery in Middle America. The Ozark Mountains are the largest range in Arkansas and the Highlands Trail follows them for just over 200 miles. This trial can be hiked year-round and isn’t buried in the snow during the winter months. There are no shelters but campgrounds and national parks dot the way. Get ready for your trip by reading Where the Red Fern Grows, a coming-of-age tale of a boy hiking in the Ozarks.
Ice Age Trail
- Length: 1,200 miles
- Location: Wisconsin
Once upon a time, Wisconsin was buried under a thousand feet of ice. When the ice retreated, it left behind an incredible landscape of kettles, boulders, lakes and potholes. Follow in the footsteps of woolly mammoths along the Ice Age Trail which follows the former edge of a glacier through Wisconsin. Half of the trail is on marked footpaths, while the other half is down quiet country roads. Don’t miss the section that follows the Milwaukee River for some unique post-glaciel landscapes.
Looking for a hiking holiday a bit closer to home? Try one of the best walks in Britain instead.