For years and years people have wandered this earth by putting one foot in front of the other, and it is no different now. Some people hike for sport and to up their fitness levels, some hike to challenge themselves and push their bodies to the extreme, but most of us hike to be at one with nature and to explore the untouched wildernesses that we have left.
"It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B.
It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
Cheryl Strayed – Pacific Crest Trail
We’ve chosen our favourite states that have some of the best hiking trails in the USA and some would say the world…
When you think of California you will most probably think of its stunning coastline and epic mountain scenery, which makes it a great state to get out and stretch those legs. So why not start with one of the finest hikes in North America, The John Muir Trail? Spend 21 days walking from Yosemite National Park all the way to Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states. You will carry what you need and witness some of the most incredible scenery that inspired the likes of Ansel Adams.
Julie Pfeiffer Burns State Park is also a great spot for some hiking with the magnificent McWay Falls, an 80ft waterfall that cascades down on to its own private beach, awaiting your arrival along the trails. If it’s great views of Big Sur and the surrounding mountains then our Yosemite, Tahoe & Monterey Walk tour will take you along the two hour Buzzard’s Roost trail, which will do just that.
Utah is an outdoor lover’s paradise and it is no surprise that it is one of the most visited states in North America and definitely one of our firm favourites. It boasts five national parks all of which have superb hiking opportunities. Take Angels Landing in Zion National Park for example; a 2.4 mile long trail that follows the Virgin River all the way to a series of switchbacks named Walters Wiggles on your way up to Scout Lookout. From here you will continue up to Angels Landing along a narrow path with sharp drops either side, it is definitely not for the faint hearted, but the views will blow you away. There are so many other amazing trails in Utah on our National Parks Walk tour, such as the Navajo Loop Trail in Bryce Canyon and a superb hike through the iconic rock formations at Arches National Park.
This area of the states is packed full of phenomenal scenery, from jagged mountain peaks to forest lined lakes and scenic valleys. New Hampshire is home to a section of the Appalachian Trail that runs through the dramatic White Mountains National Forest, and here you can walk the backbone of the northern Appalachian Mountains. America’s oldest footpath, the Appalachian Trail allows you to walk in the footsteps of history. An incredible 2,200 miles long, the pristine wilderness is most enjoyable in autumn, when New England’s foliage is at its most stunning.
On our Appalachian Trail Walk tour you’ll have the opportunity to hike one of New England’s best hikes, the Franconia Ridge Hike. The Franconia Ridge Trail runs from south to north and links Mount Liberty, Little Haystack, Mount Lincoln and Mount Lafayette along a knife-edge, above-treeline that plunges thousands of feet to the Walker Brook and Lincoln Brook river valleys below. On a clear day hikers will also be able to enjoy some incredible views of New Hampshire, Vermont and New York State. For the ultimate outdoor hiking experience you can enjoy this incredible area of natural beauty the original way, by carrying all you need on your back and staying in huts along the way on our Appalachian Trail Hut to Hut tour.
Steeped in ranching culture, Wyoming sits in the shadow of the epic Teton Range with its fang-like peaks that soar towards the wide open blue skies. With over 60 species of wildlife and over 300 species of bird any hike in this state will leave you breathless. The most rewarding of hikes you can do in this area is to Inspiration Point, where you walk around the beautiful Jenny Lake and along the trail you can see bears, moose and a whole array of wonderful wildlife. You will climb past waterfalls, traverse wooden bridges and have amazing views around every corner.
Then let’s not forget the first national park of America, Yellowstone which is a short drive north of Grand Teton National Park. The park has numerous trails that will allow you to explore the geothermal features that make this park so special. Our Yellowstone Wildlife Walk will allow you to walk the park with an experienced guide, making sure you don’t miss out on some of the parks best trails. One of the best hikes in Yellowstone is Uncle Tom’s Trail, this wonderful hike will take you to the top of the Yellowstone Grand Canyon, where you will have some outstanding views of this iconic national park, you can then hike down to the base of the incredible 308 foot high Lower Falls.
Arizona is home to the epic Grand Canyon, one of the country's most spectacular natural wonders and here you will find some great trails to enjoy. The Bright Angel hike is the most strenuous of the trails around the park; it descends 4,500 feet down to the Colorado River and covers 9.5 miles, most people make it to Indian Gardens before deciding to stop. From Indian Gardens you can head to Plateau Point, where you will be impressed by stunning views of the Colorado River.
On our National Parks Walk tour, you will have ample time to hike around Grand Canyon National Park, and another great hike is to the Havasupai Reservation. The Havasupai people live in one of the most remote villages in the USA, it is so remote that their mail still arrives on horseback. The hike is a truly unique experience and you will encounter amazing scenery along the way, including the 100ft Havasu Falls, that cascades into a pool of stunning blue-green waters.
If reading all about these wonderful places and the hiking opportunities they offer people of all abilities has inspired you to dig out your walking boots, then check out our full list of walking tours.