North America boasts some of the most diverse hiking terrains in the world, from the craggy peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the eerie, stark deserts of Utah. There’s something across this magnificent continent to suit everyone, including magical trails through lush rainforest, high ridge walks with epic views, and gentle lakeside strolls surrounded by delicate wildflowers.
To give you a little inspiration for your next hiking adventure, we’ve put together a list of our favourite hikes in North America. Explore the majestic landscapes, beautiful flora and rare fauna of this incredible continent by heading out on the trail and into the wilderness.
Panorama Trail, California
The Panorama Trail is our favourite hike in Yosemite National Park, and one of the best hikes in the United States. The first part of the hike passes along the Mist Trail, so-named for the fine spray that rises from the Vernal and Nevada Falls. The route continues along the John Muir Trail for spectacular views in some of Yosemite’s most dramatic scenery. It’s a strenuous day hike, but worth every little bit of effort!
Iceline Trail, British Columbia
One of the best hikes in Yoho National Park, the Iceline Trail is simply stunning. The route rises quickly above the tree line for expansive views across the mountains and ridges and offers a magnificent vista of the Takakkaw Falls, the second-highest waterfall in Canada. The views just keep getting better and better on this dramatic trail, taking in the entire Yoho Valley and the Emerald Glacier.
Sunrise Rim Trail, Washington
The Sunrise Rim Trail in Mount Rainer National Park offers some of the most breathtaking views in the United States. This 8km loop passes through lush wildflower meadows, before rising to a rocky ridge where you’re likely to hear the whistle of the marmot. The trail continues all the way to a gorgeous alpine lake with spectacular views of Sourdough Ridge. Ascend to the Glacier Overlook for views of the turquoise glacier-fed lakes and marvel at the majesty of Washington’s raw natural beauty.
Pocaterra Ridge, Alberta
The hike up to Pocaterra Ridge is one of the most popular routes in Kananaskis Country and passes some of the finest larch forests in Canada. The route is steep at times and somewhat strenuous, but the effort is well worth it. You’ll pass by Pocaterra Creek and Elbow Lake, before scrambling up to the ridge to enjoy panoramic views. Hike this trail in autumn when the leaves turn and the forests erupt in a blaze of golden colours.
Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Trail, Colorado
The Rocky Mountains are the setting for some of North America’s most incredible hiking trails, and the Sky Pond and Lake of Glass Trail is undoubtedly one of the finest. The path ascends steeply from the Loch, but you can always take a break at the picturesque Timberline Falls. The final stretch involves a bit of scrambling up to the Lake of Glass until you finally reach the Sky Pond where the dramatic peaks are reflected in the still, pristine waters. This thrilling trail is a Colorado classic.
Hoh Rainforest, Washington
The beautiful Hoh River Trail, which passes through the lush Hoh Rainforest, has to be one of the most magical hikes on this list. The Hoh Rainforest is a magnificent, expansive temperate rainforest, clothed in fragrant lichen and ferns giving it a truly otherworldly feel. This family-friendly, fun trail passes along the Hoh River, through a thick maze of moss-covered trees, before reaching Five Mile Island, a popular place for spotting Roosevelt Elk.
Fundy Trail, New Brunswick
The Fundy Trail is a 16km hike that skirts some of New Brunswick’s finest coastal scenery. This beautiful natural reserve is a great place for spotting marine life, as the area is known as a breeding ground for Right whales, and the trail winds its way past plunging cliffs, tumbling waterfalls and some wild old growth forests. There are plenty of hiking options to choose from, whether you’re looking for an easy forest stroll or a strenuous day hike.
Devil's Kitchen, California
Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the lesser-visited areas of California, but it boasts some truly spectacular and unique scenery. This hike through the Devil’s Kitchen will take you to an area of intense geothermal activity, with bubbling mud pots and colorful steaming vents. You’ll walk across lush marchland and thick forests, and there are plenty of side trails leading to peaceful lakes. This is one of the most distinctive hikes in California.
Grinnell Glacier Trail, Montana
Looking for spectacular views over dazzling glaciers? Head for Montana’s Glacier National Park, and the Grinnell Glacier Trail. Beginning near the crystal waters of Lake Josephine, which perfectly mirrors the surrounding peaks, the trail ascends to an incredible cirque at Upper Grinnell Lake. This is a wonderful place for wildlife spotting, with mountain goats, moose and even grizzly bears frequenting the area around the lake. Take a moment to sit in peaceful contemplation and admire the wonderful landscape.
Duck Mountain, Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan’s prairies offer plenty of opportunities for unusual hiking trips, but we think that Duck Mountain Provincial Park is the best place to start. The trail runs through the southern edge of the region’s boreal forests and is home to an extremely rich range of flora and fauna. You’ll pass through lush wildflower meadows, wild forests, stunning lakes and wetlands teeming with different bird species. This is a truly special wilderness hiking experience.
Half Dome, California
Yosemite’s most epic hike is without doubt, the ascent of Half Dome, the iconic round peak that towers above the Yosemite Valley. This challenging hike requires a vertiginous climb using cables to reach the summit, which requires a real head for heights! The hike is much more than the final section, however, passing by the beautiful Vernal Falls and traversing some of the most beautiful scenery in the park. This is a bucket list hike, and a must for those with an adventurous spirit.
Observation Point, Utah
The trek to Observation Point is the most dramatic in Zion National Park, climbing over 600m from the canyon floor all the way to the rim. The path progresses gently up the canyon wall along a series of switchbacks, passing by the narrow Echo Canyon and skirting the White Cliffs. The view from Observation Point itself is simply stunning, overlooking the canyon, Red Arch Mountain and the distinctive peak of Angel’s Landing.
Sunshine Meadows, Alberta
The hike up through Sunshine Meadows is one of the best hikes in Banff National Park, passing through some of the prettiest wildflower meadows in Canada. You’ll have phenomenal views over three gorgeous lakes: Rock Isle Lake, Grizzly Lake, and Larix Lake. Sunshine Meadows is a beautiful natural garden and this hike is one of our favorites in the Canadian Rockies.
Harding Icefield, Alaska
Alaska is arguably the United States’ greatest natural wilderness, with plenty of fantastic hikes in some truly dramatic scenery. The trail that leads to the Harding Icefield is one of the finest hikes near Anchorage, and offers breathtaking views over 30 beautiful glaciers in the Kenai Mountains. This is a strenuous hike with some serious elevation gain but the views make all the effort worthwhile.
Ball Pass, British Columbia
The hike to Ball Pass is one of the most underrated hikes in the Canadian Rockies. The route passes alongside Hawk Creek through a rugged forest in the Kootenay National Park. You’ll enjoy picturesque waterfalls and beautiful valley views as the path rises steeply through the valley. The destination is a gorgeous alpine meadow and one of the best panoramas in the Rockies, with views over Mount Ball, the Ball Glacier, Isabelle Peak and Shadow Lake.
If these hikes have got you excited for more adventures in the great outdoors, check out these lists of incredible hikes in the United States!
Thanks to Lukas from 10Adventures.com for the great list.