What Are the Best Hikes in North America?

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By: Sonia Zannoni
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North America holds some of the best hiking trails that any hiker, whether young or old, will enjoy. It is not surprising as this region is known for its many national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Be warned, however, because the hiking trails of this region are highly challenging, although the journey is worthwhile.

Hikers will see beautiful landscapes while trekking the trails, including clean lakes, snow-capped volcanoes and peaks, glaciers, unique rock formations, and wide-ranging canyons.

Without further ado, here are the best hikes you can find in North America.

Grand Canyon, North Rim, Arizona, US

Best Hikes in North America — Grand Canyon North Rim at Sunrise.
Grand Canyon North Rim at Sunrise

The Grand Canyon is an astonishing sight and experience. It is more than a mile deep, 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and has two rims—the north and the south.

The north rim is a more challenging route compared to the south. Some of the trails that can be taken by backpackers are the Widforss Trail and the Uncle Jim Point, where you can see breathtaking views of the canyon. The trip to the North Rim will also lead to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Paint Mines, Colorado, US

The Paint Mines Trail is a loop that measures 3.6 miles. It is an excellent destination for hikers who have an interest in human history.

Not only does it provide trails that offer beautiful sights like rocky canyons and beautiful clay formations, but it is also a place where archaeologists discovered evidence of human life that lived 9,000 years ago.

The Paint Mines Interpretive Park is a combination of historical, archaeological, geological, and ecological resources where any hiker will be filled with wonder.

Its ecological system is diverse as it comprises wetlands, badlands, and prairies, which makes it very attractive for mule deer, songbirds, coyotes, horned toads, sparrow hawks, and falcons.

Hikers should also be aware of the laws which protect this area because of its fragile environment and the importance of the rocks, animals, and plants that may be found within it. Geologists also call it an outdoor geological lab.

Cirque of the Towers Trail, Wyoming, US

Cirque of the Towers in Wyoming.
Cirque of the Towers, Wyoming

The Cirque of the Towers Trail is located in Wyoming, the US, in the rocky section of Wyoming’s Wind River Range. Some backpackers consider this trail as a hiker’s paradise as it offers exhilarating experiences for visitors.

Hikers will begin their ascent at the Big Sandy Trailhead where they will witness the beauty of the trail including the famous summits and lakes in the region. When planning your excursion to Cirque of the Towers, the Hiking Wyoming’s Wind River Range book is a must-read.

For hikers who like rock climbing, the Cirque of the Towers Trail will surely satisfy their cravings. This place looks like a circular hole in a glacier valley that is mostly made of granite.

The two most famous peaks in the Cirque are Pingora Peak (11,884ft.) and Wolf’s Head (12,163ft.). Two routes on these peaks were made famous by the book, Classic Climbs of North America, by Steve Roper and Allen Steck.

There are many trails to choose from, and many of them are difficult to trek. However, since this mountain is mostly made of granite, good anchoring can be expected.

Copper Canyon Trail, Mexico

Located in the heart of Mexico’s Tarahumara Mountains, tourists and backpackers will be stunned by the cultural heritage reflected in the Copper Canyon’s trails, which encompass six distinct canyons that are brightly colored in green and copper.

The canyon’s rim reaches 7,200 feet, and the floors average 5,450 feet with a depth of 1,750 feet. That severe difference produces two distinct climate zones: alpine at the rim, and subtropical in the lower areas.

Backpackers may gain cultural understanding when they visit this canyon because it is the haven of the Raramuris or Tarahumara. These indigenous people have settled in this canyon for many centuries.

According to history, the Spanish came to the Copper Canyon area during the 17th century, where they met these indigenous people throughout Chihuahua.  They named these people “Tarahumara,” which is taken from the word Raramuri, the name these aboriginals use to refer to men. According to the Spanish, this part of America had a lot of gold and silver, which they intended to explore while spreading Christianity.

Angels Landing, Utah, US 

Hiking Trail at Angel's Landing in Utah.
Hiking Trail at Angel’s Landing, Utah

One of the popular destinations for backpackers is Angels Landing, Utah, in the US. It is a rock formation measuring 1,488feet inside Zion National Park. Hikers need to track the 2.5-mile trail to complete its route. The last stop will be at the top of Angels Landing, where the beautiful view of the expansive canyon awaits hikers.

The trails are not so challenging, except for the last section where hikers will face steep trails. If you are afraid of heights, you will probably not like this hike, but if you are up for an adrenaline rush, then this trail is best.

One of the challenges of ascending the Angels Landing trail is that the trail gets steeper as you leave the virgin river. The last hurdle is a series of 21 steep switchbacks, which will be difficult for climbers. The turnaround point for some hikers is the Scout Lookout, which is on the way to the top of Angels Landing. The trail comprises narrow paths and sharp drop-offs.

Mt. Healy Overlook Trek, Alaska, US

Mount Healy is one of the famous mountains in Alaska, and beginner hikers can safely hike that; no advanced skill or sophisticated equipment is needed for this trek.

The trail starts in a thick forest. Then hikers will have to move up to the alpine tundra, a place that is full of wildflowers. Ascending, hikers will see the breathtaking views of the prominent ridges and valleys in the region. For more challenging hikes, you can choose to move another 2 miles to reach the top of the mountain.

Many Glacier Area, Montana, US

Best Hikes in North America — Grinnell Glacier Trail in Montana.
Grinnell Glacier Trail, Montana

Located in Montana’s Glacier National Park, the Many Glacier Area offers a beautiful trail for backpackers.

On these routes, you will see majestic mountains, virgin lakes, and glaciers. It is also one of the ideal areas for hardcore hikers as it offers a variety of hiking trails.

It is the place where wildlife can be found in abundance as well.

The two known trails in this national park are the Iceberg Lake Trail and the Grinnell Glacier trail.

Ink Pots Trail, Canada

Another good spot for hikers is the Ink Pots Trail, which starts in Johnston Canyon, located in the Banff National Park. 

It is trendy among tourists because it includes 7 pristine pools of water. Hikers can’t help but take a swim in these pools to experience the refreshing water.

During weekends, both locals and tourists crowd the Ink Pots Trail, so if you want to visit the place with smaller crowds, try visiting during weekdays.

The Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina, US 

The Great Smoky Mountain Range, which is also known as the “Smokies” is located on the Tennessee-North Carolina border.

As its name implies, this mountain is filled with a natural fog that covers the area. From afar, the place looks like large smoke plumes are looming it. Other popular hikes in the area are Alum Cave Bluffs, Charlies Bunion, and Andrew Bald.

John Muir Trail, California, US

View of Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail.
View of Nevada Falls from the John Muir Trail, California

The John Muir Trail is a 210-mile (338km) trail that runs through the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range in California.

The route starts in Yosemite, where backpackers will trek their way to Sequoia and King Canyon National Parks.

Many hikers who have been hiking this place come back to see the beautiful scenery along the way, like beautiful canyons and clean lakes. The goal of this excursion is to reach Mount Whitney, which is the highest peak in this region.


Hardcore backpackers preferred challenging trails, and based on the above places, the ideal hikes for them are the Grand Canyon, Grinnell Glacier, the Great Smoky Mountain Range, Angel’s Landing, and the Copper Canyon. These trails offer more challenging routes and require higher levels of hiking skills.

The Grand Canyon remains on the top of the list because of its steep ridges, which can be dangerous, especially during winter, when the area is filled with ice.

Next is Grinnell Glacier in Montana. The trails of this area will pose a significant challenge to the stamina of hikers.

The Great Smoky Mountain Range is another area that will give an adrenaline rush to hikers because of its steep and slippery trails.

The last is Angels Landing, which will require hikers to use support chains as they go through the narrow ridges before reaching the top of the landing.

So, here you have it, the best hiking trails in North America, in my opinion, of course!

What are your favorite hiking places? Share your hiking stories by leaving a comment below. I am eager to hear about your hiking excursions.

4 thoughts on “What Are the Best Hikes in North America?”

  1. We were staying at Zion and decided to make a road trip. Our adult children had never been to the Grand Canyon. We’d only been to the south rim. As someone else said, the north rim IS minus the crowds, although when we went to the South Rim ten years ago after school started, there were no crowds. In general, every destination will be better if you can go right after school starts!

    OK, back to the point. The views are fantastic. There are hiking trails. There’s a lookout at the lodge. If you have vertigo or are afraid of heights, this might not be the best for you The Lodge is a thing of beauty. Although we didn’t stay there, the cabins at the Lodge look like they’d be a great thing to talk about when you got back home.

    If you’ve not been to a national park, this would be an awesome place to start. Buy a national parks pass and get in for free. Zion’s just a day trip away.

    • Thanks for sharing these great insights about your best hike in North America. I have to agree with you the South Rim has breathtaking views.

      Thanks again for stopping by.

  2. I spent half-day hiking the John Muir Trail (part of the famed Pacific Crest Trail shares the same path). In 5 hours I saw four people in total. The trail is relatively flat and meanders alongside wide rivers, through open meadows (Tuolumne Meadows), shady forests – always within sight of grand, imposing mountains all around.

    The trail is very well marked and maintained. Good maps are advisable and are available at nearby ranger stations/visitor centers. Be sure to bring ample water and snacks/food depending on the desired length of your hike. Lots of great spots to rest along the trail and plenty of excellent photo ops. A real gem of a hike.


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