1. The Appalachian Trail, West Virginia
The Appalachian Trail is the longest and most diverse hiking trail in the United States. It tops in at 1,271 miles long and passes through 14 states. Offering absolutely amazing views of the Appalachian Mountains, lakes and ponds of the eastern shore and many endangered plants and wildlife, the trail will educate and supply unique experiences. Whether you decide to hike the entire trail from Maine to Georgia or only hike a portion of the trail, you will observe natural beauty and conserved surroundings that manage the trails pureness. I live about 35 minutes away from the trail headquarters in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. My friends and I hike a portion of the trail during spring and summer months starting at Harper's Ferry up to Key's Gap and back. It's a nice relaxing day hike and a good stretch that isn't too difficult to climb. Starting at the Harper's Ferry headquarters also gives visitors a chance to check out the history behind the trail. You really have to be careful and keep watch because there are lots of black bears up there; we actually saw a mother bear and her cub a couple years ago.
2. Wyoming Heritage Trail, Wyoming
The rails-to-trails Wyoming Heritage Trail is located in Riverton, Wyoming and is 22 miles long. Many people use it for biking and four-wheeling rather than just walking, however; many people walk and camp the trail. It is fairly wide and wheelchair accessible with asphalt and gravel surfaces, yet the trail is pretty rough and not maintained as well as it should be. The trail crosses the Wind River and then follows it offering intimate views of wildlife and the river. There are lots of large white-tail deer that don't mind your presence too much because they occasionally will jump the path in front of you.
3. Graybeard Trail, North Carolina
Every year from when my best friend (now husband) and I were 14 until we were 18 years old, we attended a Presbyterian youth conference in Montreat, North Carolina. The conference was held around Montreat College and right at the foot of Black Mountain where hiking trails were plentiful and elevations were high. The second year we attended the conference, we decided to try hiking to the top of the highest and longest trail. We were novice hikers at the time and did not follow directions which left us lost for hours after dark. Learning from that experience, we became more cautious and eager to climb to Graybeard Trail's highest peak. Graybeard is 7.5 miles long and peaks at 5408 feet. Most parts of the trail are pretty skinny with quite a few tree roots passing through to create stairs in the trail. The hike is strenuous and requires a lot of energy. The trail is out and back and takes about six hours to complete, if you stop and soak in the views or picnic on the rock plateau at Graybeard's top elevation. There are some awesome historic cabins visible from the path. There are fainted old markings and drawings on the inside walls of these moss covered cabins that used to be small residences years ago. The hike tends to be most comfortable during summer.
4. Lands End Trail, California
The Lands End Trail in San Francisco, California is part of the rails-to-trails system. It overlooks The San Francisco Bay and offers outstanding views of The Golden Gate Bridge with unique perspectives not caught anywhere else in the city. The slender two mile trail is made of dirt and is not very difficult to trek; just relaxing and enjoyable. It is open year-round and known to be a good trail for bird-watching.
5. Bail-Out Trail, West Virginia
After spending multiple winters on snowboarding trips in Snowshoe Mountain cabin rentals, my husband and I decided to return for some hardcore hiking during the summer. The sharp mountain peaks and spruce trees are plentiful. The Bail-Out Trail is not very long, but it is extremely intense. I don't recommend it for anyone who is looking for a relaxing hike because this one is quite intense and really gets your heart pumping. Access to the trail is pretty simple; just follow Shaver's Lake Trail across the dam and the signs will lead you to the Bail-Out Trail. This trail offers untouched backcountry and beautiful waterfalls that enhance the beauty of the hike. The waterfalls are probably my favorite part of hiking the Snowshoe Mountain summit. The Bail-Out Trail only takes about an hour and fifteen minutes out and back. The top of the trail meets the Fire Tower Trail at 4740 feet where scenic views are ready for the taking.
6. Veyo Volcano Summit, Utah
Veyo Volcano Summit is located in Washington County, Utah. It is an enormous 5,223 feet above sea level. The Red Mountain Traverse Trail elevates to about 5150 feet and ends four miles up making it an eight mile hike. The trail is full of amazing canyon views like that of Snow Canyon and red canyon overlooks. Hiking through cave-like canyon walls creates a real, untouched western environment.
7. Seneca Rocks Trail, West Virginia
The Seneca Rocks Trail is famous for the 900 foot high enormous, red-tinted, jagged vertical rock that shoots up from the mountain. The base of the Seneca Rocks meets the Potomac River that is home to anxious anglers and swimmers alike. This out and back trail is about two and a half miles long and is moderately difficult to climb. The top of the trail offers magnificent views of rolling West Virginia Mountains and a slightly visible small country store. My husband and I took advantage of the rock climbing while we were there. If you're looking for a seriously intense rock climb, check out Seneca Rocks.
8. Breakneck Ridge Trail, New York
Beacon, New York is home of the famous Breakneck Ridge Trail reaching 1,500 feet high. It is an extremely strenuous loop trail extending nine and a half miles. Be prepared for heavy breathing and stretched muscles while climbing through large and intense rock scrambles. There are several native types of wildlife that live throughout this trail. The wind is intensified through parts of the trail so be cautious of the gusts. Catskill Mountain offers spectacular views of Beacon as well as the Hudson River, which is where the trail starts out. Storm King Mountain looks as though it is sitting in the middle of the large curve the Hudson River creates around it.
9. Sharp Top Trail, Virginia
The Sharp Top Trail at The Peaks of Otter in Buchanan, Virginia has one of the most outstanding scenic views I have ever seen. The rocky top offers a 360 degree view of different mountain chains including The Peaks of Otter, Piedmonts, Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Mountains and Alleghany Mountains. I mean this view actually made me feel dizzy because it was so immense and widespread. It is by far one of my favorite hiking trails of all time. The trail is steep and intense and takes about two and half hours to reach the summit and only about one hour to get back down. The climb is tough, but the unspoiled view is absolutely worth it.
10. Crabtree Falls Trail, Virginia
Crabtree Falls Trail is located in Buena Vista, Virginia and offers a seriously unique experience by allowing hikers to trek right up to base of the highest waterfall in Virginia. The trail actually includes five beautiful cascading waterfalls throughout the hike. The Tye River lies at the base of the trail and is able to be seen the fantastic view the trek includes. The trail veers off in two separate directions; a strenuous trail and a moderate trail. Each trail is about six miles total out and back and reaches 1,500 feet. The trail should take a moderately skilled hiker eight hours to finish, including leisure stops and taking advantage of the waterfall views.
Top 10 Hiking Trails
1. The Appalachian Trail, West Virginia