Much to the delight of the hiking community, the popular hiking trail app, Alltrails, recently published their list of the “Best Hiking Trails in the United States.” The Alltrails list was created using users’ ranking of 82,552 hiking trails throughout all fifty states, including all US national parks. Although many hikers possess an in-depth understanding of the hiking trails within their immediate area, few hikers can say they have explored all American National Parks and their many trails. This new publication will be an excellent resource for both experienced and amateur hikers and inspire hiking enthusiasts to plan their next major hike.
Although Brian McPeek has always enjoyed the outdoors, after graduating college and starting his career in the advertising industry, he has rarely had the time to enjoy his local trails. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, Brian McPeek has used his newfound free time to get outside and once again realize his passion for Texan trails. During the past two years, Brian McPeek has used a wide variety of online trail maps to plan his Austin hikes, including the Alltrails app. Since Alltrails published their “Best Hiking Trails in the United States,”however, Brian McPeek has made plans for an out-of-state hiking trip, to explores some the trails featured on this list. Below, Brian McPeek will share the top hikes on Alltrails’ list and why fellow hiking enthusiasts should consider checking out some of these trails.
- Angel’s Landing – Zion National Park
It will likely come as no surprise to experienced hikers that Angels Landing has been listed as the best hike in the United States. As one of the most renowned hikes in the world, Angels Landing is more than deserving of its placement on this list. Although this out-and-back trail measures just under 4.5 miles, it is often rated as difficult in hiker guides and should be regarded as a highly technical hike. The trail is a highly strenuous route that features narrow sections, steep drop-offs, and an elevation gain of 1,600 feet. Hikers can start by parking at the Grotto Trailhead and crossing the bridge over the Virgin River. Hikers will start their walk through the well-maintained and paved West Rim Trail before making their way to the Refrigerator Canyon, which will be a reprieve from the hot Nevada heat. Hikers are encouraged to bring plenty of water to ensure proper hydration throughout the hike.
Next, hikers will arrive at Walter’s Wiggles, a set of 21 switchbacks that received their name from Zion National Park’s first superintendent. The last half mile of this section will follow a narrow ridge where visitors will ascend nearly 1500 feet on supported chains and a sheer cliff. Clearly, the most challenging section of the hike, those afraid of heights will be well-rewarded following this edition with an excellent view of the canyon. However, be sure to stay clear of the edge of the observation point, as the trail may be slick and does experience high winds.
- Devil’s Bridge Trail – Coconino National Forest
Known for being the largest natural sandstone arch in the Sedona area, the Devils Bridge of Coconino National Forest is widely regarded as one of the best desert hikes in the United States. Hikers interested in a hike over Red Rock country with excellent views should certainly consider this hike. Although the hike is relatively short and consists of just 3.9 miles of trails, the trail does consist of a very steep climb at the end of the trail.
To find the trailhead, visitors must go along a paved portion of Dry Creek Road off FR 152. This area requires a high clearance vehicle to access; however, those with a low clearance vehicle can park in the parking lot at the Dry Creek Road 1 mile away from the official trailhead. Next, hikers can follow the markers for the Devil’s Bridge trail, which will start on highly paved trails. It is worth noting that this hike is highly popular and will often draw large crowds on the weekend. Those looking to enjoy the hike without
crowds are encouraged to arrive at the trailhead early in the morning, between 7-8 AM.
- Emerald Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park
Emerald Lake remains the most popular trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s easy to see why. The trail features pine forests, picturesque alpine lakes, and a gorgeous view of the rocky peaks, all in under 5 miles. Hikers will be able to see spectacular views of some of the most notable landmarks in Rocky Mountain National Park, including Nymph and Dream Lake, Flattop Mountain, Hallett Peak, Tyndall Glacier, and Glacier Gorge. This hiking trail is extremely popular with photographers, snowshoers, and families with children.
The trail is open year-round to hikers and can be accessed l from the end of Bear Lake Road close to Estes Park. The trail has less than 600 feet of elevation and can be completed in roughly 2-3 hours. Those considering the hike should double-check the weather before attempting Emerald Lake Trail, as the trail is known to get icy in fall and winter. Hikers preparing to hike the trail in colder months are encouraged to wear hiking boots or snowshoes, as tennis shoes are not advised.