Lace Up! These are the 10 Best States for Hiking

A person wearing hiking gear sits on a rocky outcrop with snow-capped mountains and green valleys in the background under a clear blue sky.

Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or just looking for your next outdoor adventure, you’ll want to check out the best states for hiking in 2024. From mountain peaks that’ll make your quads burn to desert trails that’ll have you questioning your life choices (in the best way possible), these states offer something for every hiker — even those who think “hiking” means a brisk walk to the fridge.

There’s something magical about lacing up your hiking boots and hitting the trails. For many of us, hiking isn’t just a pastime—it’s a way to disconnect from electronics, clear our minds, and find peace. It’s also a great way to justify eating an entire batch of trail mix in one sitting. 

Here in the US, America’s National Trails System covers more than 88,600 miles of trails, including scenic, historic, and recreational trails. According to a recent study by KURU Footwear, these are the best states for hiking.

A collage of hikers in various scenic locations within the text "Best States for Hiking." Images depict forests, mountains, waterfalls, desert arches, and coastal rocks.


Where’s Your Favorite Place to Hike in the US?

Share your favorite photo with me by tagging @sagescott.kc on Instagram and using the hashtag #everydaywanderer

A landscape featuring a tree with yellow leaves in the foreground, a valley of trees with autumn foliage, and mountain peaks under a partially cloudy sky in the background.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

1. Colorado

Colorado takes the top spot for a reason. With its breathtaking Rocky Mountain scenery, this high-altitude state offers a range of hiking trails that cater to all skill levels. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a weekend warrior, Colorado has a trail for you. 

What else makes Colorado special? The variety. One day, you’re in a sunny meadow, and the next, you’re crossing a snowy pass. Every hike is an adventure, with gorgeous views that’ll make your Instagram followers beyond jealous.

Popular Colorado Hikes:

  • Garden of the Gods: Otherworldly rock formations.
  • Pike’s Peak: A popular summit trek.
  • Devil’s Head Lookout: Historic fire lookout with jaw-dropping views.
  • Longs Peak: A formidable climb.
  • Maroon Bells: Picturesque trails with alpine scenery.
  • Emerald Lake Trail: One of the most popular hikes at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Bridalveil Fall on a foggy day in Yosemite National Park
Photo Credit: Canva.

2. California

From sun-kissed coastal trails to snow-capped Sierra peaks, California easily secures the second spot on our list. The Golden State’s diverse landscapes offer year-round hiking opportunities that’ll make any outdoor enthusiast weak in the knees. 

Fancy a stroll through ancient redwoods? Or perhaps a trek across otherworldly desert terrain? California’s got it all! What truly sets this state apart is its ability to surprise you at every turn, with each trail delivering a unique adventure. Just don’t be surprised if you run into a film crew shooting the next blockbuster on your “secluded” hike.

Popular California Hikes:

  • Lands End Trail: Coastal views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Pacific Crest Trail: An epic journey through diverse terrains.
  • Mount Shasta, near Redding: A challenging ascent for the adventurous.
  • Eaton Canyon Trail: Easy hike with a rewarding waterfall finish.
  • Yosemite Falls Trail: Family-friendly with stunning waterfall views at Yosemite National Park.
  • John Muir Trail: 211 miles of Sierra Nevada beauty.
Brittlebush is one of the most common Arizona wildflowers
Photo Credit: Sage Scott.

3. Arizona

The Grand Canyon State isn’t just about its namesake wonder — Arizona is a hiker’s playground of diverse terrains. From the red rocks of Sedona to the pine forest covered mountains near Prescott, this southwestern state offers trails for every taste and skill level. 

And with its dry climate, you can hike year-round without worrying too much about rain. Just remember, “dry heat” is still heat, and your sweat glands don’t care about semantics. Although when the state has had a lot of rain, the superbloom of wildflowers will make your camera work overtime. It’s nature’s way of saying, “See? Arizona isn’t just rocks and saguaros!”

Popular Arizona Hikes:

  • Grand Canyon’s South Kaibab Trail: Iconic views of the world’s deepest ditch.
  • Camelback Mountain: A strenuous climb with panoramic city vistas.
  • Superstition Mountains: Legendary hikes steeped in folklore.
  • Bright Angel Trail: A classic Grand Canyon experience.
  • Wave Cave Trail: Instagram-famous rock formation.
  • Humphreys Peak: The highest point in Arizona with alpine scenery.
A river meandering through a landscape of rocky mountains and lush trees, showcasing the stunning natural beauty of Montana.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott.

4. Montana

Big Sky Country isn’t just a nickname — it’s a promise Montana delivers on every trail. With a population of just over a million spread across its wilderness, the Treasure State offers hikers the opportunity to escape into incredible, untouched natural beauty. 

Glacier National Park and Yellowstone are the state’s crown jewels, but Montana’s charm extends far beyond. In this wide open space under a gorgeous big sky, you can hike for hours without seeing another soul, surrounded by nothing but pristine forests, crystal-clear alpine lakes, and dramatic mountain peaks. It’s the kind of scenery that’ll make you want to twirl and sing “The Hills Are Alive” like Julie Andrews in the opening credits of The Sound of Music.

Popular Montana Hikes:

  • Highline Trail: 14 miles of trail with jaw-dropping views in Glacier National Park.
  • Avalanche Lake: A family-friendly hike with a stunning lake payoff.
  • Beehive Basin Trail: Wildflower extravaganza near Big Sky.
  • Grinnell Glacier Trail: Up-close encounter with a shrinking glacier.
  • Lava Lake: Moderate hike to a serene mountain lake.
  • Iceberg Lake Trail: Aptly named for its floating icebergs in summer.

Sage Advice: Montana is bear country, so be sure to read these bear safety tips before you hit the trails. Or, just be ready to outrun your hiking buddy!

A tall waterfall cascades from a cliff surrounded by green and yellow foliage. The name "Sage Scott" is written in the bottom right corner of the image.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott.

5. New York

If you think hiking in New York is just Central Park strolls, think again! Once you leave the City That Never Sleeps, you’ll discover another side of the Empire State. From the towering peaks of the Adirondacks to the tranquil trails of the Hudson Valley, Upstate New York is a magical place — especially as summer fades away and the fall foliage is on full display.

And if you still crave the Big Apple, New York City offers unique urban hikes, like the High Line, because nothing says “nature” like repurposed railroad tracks, right?

Popular New York Hikes:

  • Bear Mountain: Stone staircases rivaling Georgia’s Amicalola Falls.
  • Breakneck Ridge: Challenging climbs with rebar assists.
  • Appalachian Trail section: 100 miles of surprisingly luxurious hiking.
  • Watkins Glen State Park: Gorge trail with 19 waterfalls.
  • Devil’s Hole Trail: Niagara Gorge views and boulder scrambles.
  • Adirondack High Peaks: 46 summits for seasoned hikers.
Arches National Park in Utah offers an abundance of breathtaking natural arch formations for visitors to explore and admire.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

6. Utah

Utah’s hiking scene is like a greatest hits album of landscapes. Desert arches? Check. Alpine meadows? You bet. Otherworldly rock formations? In spades. The Beehive State packs an incredible variety of terrains into a surprisingly compact area.

Home to five impressive national parks known as the Mighty Five, you’ll find everything from leisurely walks to quad-burning treks, all set against some of the most stunning backdrops you’ll ever see. Whether you’re a casual day hiker or a hardcore backpacker, Utah’s trails will leave you speechless (and maybe a little dusty).

Popular Utah Hikes:

  • Angels Landing: Zion National Park’s famous chain-assisted climb.
  • Delicate Arch: Iconic Arches National Park symbol.
  • Navajo Loop: Bryce Canyon’s hoodoo-filled wonderland.
  • The Narrows: Wade through Zion’s slot canyon.
  • Fairyland Loop: Less crowded Bryce Canyon gem.
  • Dead Horse Point: Easy trails with Grand Canyon-like views.
My favorite way to see the missions of San Antonio is by bike.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott.

7. Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the hiking opportunities. From the rugged canyons of Big Bend to the lush forests of the east, the trails in Texas are as big and bold as the Lone Star State itself. On many trails, you’ll feel like you have the whole state to yourself. 

And let’s not forget the spring wildflower displays! The Texas bluebonnet, with its deep blue, pea-like flowers, might be the most famous bloom, but it’s not the only one you’ll see. So watch for pink phlox, white daisies, and red poppies as well.

Popular Texas Hikes:

  • South Rim Trail: Big Bend’s challenging 13-mile crown jewel.
  • Guadalupe Peak: Highest point in Texas with 360-degree scenic views.
  • Lost Maples East Trail: Autumn colors rivaling New England.
  • San Antonio Mission Trail: Where natural beauty and the state’s rich history collide.
  • Gorman Falls Trail: Oasis-like waterfall in the hill country.
  • Santa Elena Canyon: Big Bend’s imposing canyon walls.
  • Enchanted Rock Summit Trail: Climb a massive pink granite dome.
Snow-capped mountain peak with pine trees and green vegetation in the foreground under a clear blue sky.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

8. Washington

Welcome to the evergreen playground of the Pacific Northwest. Washington is a hiker’s dream, offering everything from rainforest walks to alpine meadows to volcanic ascents. Be sure to explore Olympic National Park.

With its rugged coastline, misty forests, and glaciated mountains, it’s like hiking through three different worlds in one park. Plus, you can pretend you’re in a Twilight movie!

Popular Washington Hikes:

  • Burroughs Mountain Trail: Closest you can get to Mount Rainier without climbing gear.
  • Hoh River Trail: Journey through a fairytale-like rainforest.
  • Skyline Trail: A wildflower extravaganza in Mount Rainier National Park.
  • Colchuck Lake: Gateway to the enchantments with turquoise waters.
  • Rialto Beach: Coastal hike with sea stacks and tidal pools.
  • Mount Si: Incredible views a short drive from Seattle.
A rocky and uneven dirt path winds through a lush, green forest with dense foliage and trees on both sides.
Photo Credit: YayImages.

9. North Carolina

From the misty peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the sun-drenched shores of the Outer Banks, the trails in North Carolina offer an incredible range of hiking experiences. Not to be missed is the Appalachian Trail, also known as the AT. About 100 miles of this legendary trail connecting Georgia to Maine runs through the Tar Heel State, including some of its most challenging and beautiful sections.

Add in the southern hospitality of trail towns like Hot Springs, and you’ve got a hiking destination that’s as warm and welcoming as it is wild. And, you know, if you get lost, at least the locals are super friendly.

Popular North Carolina Hikes:

  • Grandfather Mountain: Ladders and cables on an exposed ridge.
  • Looking Glass Rock: Iconic dome with panoramic views.
  • Linville Gorge: The “Grand Canyon of the East.”
  • Mt. Mitchell: Highest peak east of the Mississippi.
  • Graveyard Fields: Waterfalls and blueberry patches galore.
  • Shining Rock: White quartz summit in the Pisgah National Forest.
A two-tiered waterfall cascades beneath a stone bridge surrounded by lush green vegetation.
Photo Credit: Sage Scott.

10. Oregon

With the Pacific Ocean crashing against rugged cliffs, volcanoes piercing the sky, and waterfalls hiding around the bend, it’s easy to see why Oregon is one of the best states for hiking. You can start your morning in a misty coastal forest, have lunch in the high desert, and end your day on a snowy peak — all within a few hours’ drive. And if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.

Don’t let its place at the end of this list fool you! With trails for every skill level and views that’ll break your camera, Oregon is a must-hike destination.

Popular Oregon Hikes:

  • Garfield Peak Trail: Crater Lake views that’ll leave you speechless.
  • Multnomah Falls: Iconic waterfall with a challenging upper trail.
  • Smith Rock: High desert climbing mecca with scenic trails.
  • Tamolitch Blue Pool: Crystal clear waters in the Willamette National Forest.
  • Broken Top Loop: Alpine lakes and wildflowers in the Cascades.
  • Cape Lookout: Whale-watching from a cliff-top trail.

Hit the Trails!

There you have it—the best states for hiking in the US! Each destination offers unique trails and experiences that cater to hikers of all skill levels. From strenuous trails that’ll make you question your sanity to stunning views that’ll make you forget about your burning calves, these 10 states have got you covered. Happy hiking!

What State Do You Think is Best for Hiking?

What state is your favorite for hiking? What do you love most about it? Is there a state missing from this list? Tell me all about it in the comments section below.

Ready to Go?
Use These Helpful Links to Book Your Trip!

Thank you for sharing!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top