“We don’t stop hiking because we grow old – we grow old because we stop hiking.”
Location: Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park
Most iconic and famous national park in the US, the Grand Canyon was created by the incision of the Colorado River and its tributaries after the Colorado Plateau was uplifted, causing the river system to develop along its present path.
The Grand Canyon National Park includes easy vista point hikes at the canyon's edge or expert-only hikes from rim to rim. If you are looking for less crowded paths, the North Rim could be your choice: North Kaibab Trail is the only maintained trail of the North Rim going into the canyon.
Curiosity: Established on February 26th 1919 by President Woodrow Wilson, it was celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019; the park was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979.
Location: Washington, Mount Rainier National Park
Dominated by the Mount Rainier, a 14,410 feet above sea level active volcano, the Mount Rainier National Park has more than 260 miles of maintained trails across peaceful old-growth forest, river valleys, and subalpine meadows.
The Burroughs Mountain trail is a nine miles roundtrip flanked by dramatic glaciers and it offers stunning views of Mount Rainer and the alpine landscape along the way.
Curiosity: Burroughs Mountain has been described as a mountain against a mountain as, with its over 7800 feet, sets right up against the north-eastern face of the volcano offering one of the most dramatic view.
Location: Maine, Acadia National Park
The Acadia National Park is the eastern U.S. national park and during the hikes offers lots of different views of the bays and tiny islands off the Maine coast.
Cadillac Mountain is the tallest mountain on the whole North Atlantic and the Cadillac South Trail is the perfect choice for some incredible summit views: you can reach the summit in about 2-3 hours, with the same time needed for the descent.
Curiosity: For a different hiking experience, plan to reach the summit in the early morning hours and enjoy the sunrise from the Cadillac mountain, with an incredible view on both the land and the sea.
Location: Oregon, Smith Rock State Park
Located in central Oregon, Smith Rock State Park is dominated by the tuff formation of volcanic origin, the Smith Rocks and the Crooked River which cut its way through the layers or rock. The park has hikes ranging from easy to moderately difficult terrain.
Despite the name, the Misery Ridge Trail is a panoramic loop trail of moderate difficulty, which leads you to the summit where you can enjoy the view of the Smith Rock and the river below and then to one of the icons of the park, the Monkey Face.
Curiosity: If you are a climber this park may be the perfect choice for you: Smith Rock is generally considered the birthplace of modern American sport climbing and is host to cutting-edge climbing routes.
Location: Montana, Glacier National Park
Named for the remnants of glaciers from the ice age, Glacier National Park is the headwaters for streams that flow to the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Hudson Bay. It features a variety of trails for all skill levels, ranging from the easiest to most challenging.
In the Grinnell Glacier Trail you can enjoy your hike by crossing past lakes, cliffs and alpine meadows, but especially you can glimp some wildlife along the way.
Curiosity: The Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-miles scenic mountain road in the Rocky Mountains on the western United States, crosses also the Glacier Park as well as the hydrogeological Continental Divide of the Americas.
Location: Utah, Zion National Park
Zion National Park, Utah's first national park, covers the area around the deep gorge of the Zion Canyon, carved over the centuries from the Virgin River; famous for its cream, pink and red sandstone cliffs, free-standing arches and hiking trails suitable for all experience levels.
With a 5 miles hike you can reach the Angel’s Landing summit which is the best point view of all the park. The last part of the ascent is considered one of the scariest path in the world as some passages are exposed, but you can walk in the path up to Scout’s Lookout if you are a not an expert hiker.
Curiosity: The park was discovered by the Wild West pioneers in 19th century and colonized by Mormons. In particular the Mormon Isaac Behunin, who settled there in 1863, believed he found the Zion described in the Bible and so called the area.
Location: Tennessee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains, a division of the larger Appalachian Mountain chain and the Appalachian Trail passes through its center. The park is internationally recognized for its mountains, waterfalls, biodiversity and forests.
Porter’s Creek Trail is a 4-miles moderately challenging out-and-back route which runs across lush forests and rocks along the creek and rich of various wildflowers in Spring season. Some historic structures (such as churches, schools or farm buildings) are sprinkled on the trail.
Curiosity: Dedicated in 1940, the Great Smoky Mountains was the first national park having land and other costs paid in part with federal funds; it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983 and an International Biosphere Reserve since 1988.
Location: New Hampshire, White Mountains National Forest
The White Mountains National Forest covers nearly a quarter of the land of New Hampshire and includes some state parks and the famed Mount Washington (the tallest peak in the northeast); they are ideally suited for day hikes in the spring, summer, and fall months.
The Franconia Ridge Loop is a challenging 9-miles round-trip which traverses the Mount Lafayette, Mount Lincoln and Little Haystack, along the second-highest range of peaks in the White Mountains; it stays firstly above the tree line, assuring breathtaking views and then exposed to the elements.
Curiosity: The highest mountain range of the White Mountains are the Presidential Range: the peaks have the names of American presidents and other prominent public figures. They are also famous for having some of the worst weather on Earth, mainly because of the unpredictability of high-speed wind.
Location: Virginia, Mount Rogers National Recreation Area
Mount Rogers, the tallest peak in Virginia, is one of the only six remaining high-altitude Southern Appalachian spruce-fir forests. It presents the Fraser fir, a high-altitude evergreen coniferous tree only located in few areas of the Appalachians, typically above 5500' elevation.
You can hike the Massie Gap in Grayson Highlands State Park, the approximately 8-mile roundtrip hike to the top, partly following the Appalachian Trail, which mostly runs through rugged pastures, offering a wide-open views all the way.
Curiosity: A popular attraction for locals and turists are the two herds of free-roaming wild ponies, descendents from Shetland ponies, which were introduced to help prevent reforestation on the highland balds.
Location: California, Joshua Tree National Park
In the Joshua Tree National Park in California, two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together, creating a surreal lunar-like landscape where a fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain.
The moderate 7-mile out-and-back Lost Palms Trail crosses rolling hills through the low desert before climbing down into the rocky Lost Palms Canyon to reach the oasis. Along the trail, you may have great views on the oasis, nearby peaks and the Salton Sea to the south.
Curiosity: Almost all of the Californian famous palms were planted in the 30s, but only one palm tree is actually native to the region: the California fan palm, which grows tucked away in canyons' oasis in the low Colorado Desert.