If there’s one thing that I absolutely love about living here in the United States, it’s visiting places that have some of the most breathtaking scenery. The U.S. has much to offer when it comes to scenic hiking due to the terrain being so diverse here, and you’ll find yourself having a tough time choosing which place you’d like to go to. Preferably, I like mountain hiking as it usually offers a better workout, as well as some gorgeous scenery in every which way you look. There’s nothing like hiking in the mountains in the early morning to get your blood pumping. I’m lucky enough to live in a state that offers such beautiful hiking areas, and I take advantage of said trails as often as I can. So, if you’re a lover of nature, and enjoy getting a good exercise while also witnessing some of the most stunning scenery in the U.S., then these five places are superb choices when it comes to scenic hiking.
Naturally, I had to include Alaska for scenic hiking; that whole state is drop dead gorgeous! Denali National Park is a stunning area in the Alaska Mountain Range, and offers tons of great options for hiking. But, if you’re looking for marked trailheads, then you won’t find that many here. Don’t let that discourage you though because there’s plenty of hiking to be done off the trails. You can pretty much choose which way you’d like to go in the park, and just start hiking. That’s one of things that I love about Denali where they purposefully didn’t put very many marked trails to encourage off-trail hiking; it makes for a wonderful experience where you truly feel like you’re one with nature. The crown jewel of Denali National Park is of course Denali itself, and is the highest mountain peak in North America at 20,310 feet. It’s nothing short of breathtaking when you first lay eyes on Denali, and is definitely worth taking the trip up to Alaska.
2. Maroon Bells
The Maroon Bells are located in Aspen, Colorado, and they are the most photographed mountains not just in Colorado, but in the U.S as well. They’re truly stunning, and the pictures certainly don’t do them any justice. These gorgeous peaks resemble pyramids in their own unique way, and also have distinctive striations that go across horizontally. There’s plenty of scenic hiking to be done up at the Maroon Bells due to the many trails, and you’ll find the most picturesque lake, appropriately named Maroon Lake, right at the base. Maroon Lake is my favorite part of hiking up there, because you can see the peaks perfectly mirrored in the lake. The Maroon Bells are also part of the famous fourteeners, or 14ers as the locals refer to them, that Colorado is well-known for. If you’re looking for a scenic hike where you can take stunning photos of some of the most iconic mountains in the U.S., then the Maroon Bells are definitely for you!
3. Waimea Canyon
Hawaii is undeniably one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., if not the most beautiful place. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting the Hawaiian Islands of Kauai and Oahu, both of which offer some of the most stunning scenery that I’ve witnessed. Waimea Canyon on Kauai is one of the most gorgeous places that you can go for scenic hiking. There are a few different options for hiking trails in Waimea Canyon, all of which are unique in their own way. One of the trails even leads you all the way to the bottom of the canyon floor where the Waimea River flows, and offers a relaxing way to cool off. But, heads up, this trail is marked as difficult, so, make sure you at least have some experience with hiking steep terrain. There’s also beginner level hiking for those of us who aren’t as adventurous, and are just looking for spectacular views of the canyon. I remember being completely awestruck when I first saw this magnificent canyon at 12 years old, and thinking to myself how odd it was that parts of the Waimea Canyon looked to be arid, but were anything but. This is one spectacular scenic hike that you don’t want to pass up if given the chance.
4. Lamoille Canyon
The Ruby Mountains in the Elko, Nevada area hold a very special place in my heart, and not just because they’re breathtaking, but because I grew up going to these mountains whenever I went out to visit my grandparents. I always thought that this mountain range was prettier than the Rocky Mountains back in my home state; sorry Colorado. There were some mornings and evenings where the Rubies would resemble a gorgeous pink color, and on the days where it would rain in the summer, clouds would look to be rolling right off the mountain peaks. There’s plenty of scenic hiking in the Ruby Mountains, specifically, Lamoille Canyon. Lamoille Canyon is my favorite part of the Rubies where you can see stunning glaciated peaks encompassed by a lush landscape. That’s one of the things that makes this mountain range unique; a lush landscape compared to the surrounding arid desert. Lamoille Canyon has over 100 miles of stunning hiking trails, and there’s even one trail that leads to a beautiful glacial tarn called Island Lake. So, if you find yourself in Northern Nevada, pay the Lamoille Canyon a visit for some of the most stunning views that this state has to offer!
5. Lake Tahoe
How could I not include Lake Tahoe in the California Nevada region? Growing up, I didn’t believe my dad when he said that this is the clearest lake in the U.S. The only lakes that I had experience with were up in the mountains in Colorado, with most of them being too dark to see much of anything. Imagine my surprise when I visited Lake Tahoe for the first time (that I actually remember, I don’t count when I was there at two years old), and found my dad to be completely right. It was the most beautiful lake that I’d ever had the pleasure of seeing, and had waters so clear and blue that they could practically rival that of Hawaii. Naturally, Lake Tahoe has many wonderful trails that make for some of the best scenic hiking. Emerald Bay, which is located on the West Shore of the California side, is one of the most stunning areas of Lake Tahoe, and Cascade Falls is one hike that you don’t want to miss out on! This trail leads you to the top of the falls, that is a remarkable 200 feet, and includes stunning views of not just Lake Tahoe, but Cascade Lake as well. I can say with confidence that hiking Lake Tahoe should be on everyone’s bucket list.