If you love doing cardio and also enjoy breathtaking natural landscapes, hiking was pretty much invented for you. There’s nothing quite like getting out into nature, feeling your lungs take in the fresh air, and climbing up a steep incline only to be greeted by a magnificent view at the top.
If you’re looking to take on some adventurous hikes in marvelous locations, here are some of the trails you must do in North America.
The Devil’s Thumb Trail, Banff, AB, Canada
This trail through the Canadian Rocky Mountains starts at the picturesque Lake Louise and circles up a mountain. Over the course of the 12km (7.4 miles) route, hikers gain an elevation of 2,896 feet, and the trail is ranked as a difficult hike. However, the breathtaking views of Lake Agnes and Lake Louise makes it all worth it.
The Black Angel Trail, White Angel National Forest, New Hampshire
This trail through the scenic Appalachian Mountains in New Hampshire immerses hikers in nature on a 28.6km (17.8 miles) route. The trail is considered difficult as hikers gain 5,780 feet of elevation during the trip. Due to a lack of maintenance, it takes a little extra work when it comes to staying on track. However, the views and wildflowers along the way make the work worth it.
The Delicate Arch Trail, Arches National Park, Utah
The Delicate Arch is the world’s most famous naturally occurring arch. The three-mile roundtrip hike climbs 480 feet uphill, offers no shade during a steep incline, and traverses a narrow rock ledge for about 200 yards. While not the longest or hardest hike, the natural beauty of the area and wall of Indigenous Ute petroglyphs in the rock wall make it a hike to remember.
The Iceberg Lake Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana
This trail is a favorite among experienced hikers and offers some of the most astonishing views of Mount Wilbur, Iceberg Peak, and the Continental Divide upon reaching Iceberg Lake. This difficult hike is 15.6km (9.7 miles) long and takes hikers on a 1,275-foot elevation trip as they traverse forest, rock, and grassy terrains.
Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park, Washington
The Hoh River Trail is a 27.8km (17.3 miles) long route through the Hoh River Rainforest near Mount Olympus in Washington. The trail is relatively flat through the first 13km before getting steeper as hikers approach Glacier Meadows. While not a particularly challenging hike, the wildlife and scenery make for a beautiful trip through the forest.
The Rim-To-Rim Hike, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
One of the most daunting hikes in the USA, the Rim-To-Rim trail takes hikers down into the depths of the canyon and across to climb up the other side. The 70.8km (44 miles) route descends down the North Kaibab Trail and connects with the Bright Angel Trail to bring you back to the top.
The route takes about 5–7 days to complete and is an intensely strenuous hike that takes a lot of endurance to get through.
Panorama Trail, Yosemite National Park, California
This 22.5km (15 miles) hike is one of the most breathtaking in the USA. It starts at the Mist Trail, then follows along the Panorama Trail to Glacier Point before descending over 6.4km to ground level.
The hike takes an average of 7–9.5 hours based on skill level and weather conditions.
Mount Eielson Trail, Denali National Park, Alaska
This 23.5km (14.6 miles) long route circles Mount Eielson, located at the edge of the Alaskan Mountain range, and offers some of the most spectacular views of the glacier-capped mountains and, on clear days, of Mount Denali. The trail covers both grassy paths and hard rock terrain for an exploration of some of the most beautiful wilderness landscapes in the world. Just make noise so that the bears don’t get close.
Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone National Park, Montana
This trail takes hikers up a 9.8km (6.1 miles) route to the 10,566-foot summit of Avalanche Peak. Hikers go through forested and burned areas to reach the top, where you can see magnificent views of the Grand Tetons and Mount Sheridan to the south and Yellowstone Lake to the southwest.
The Skyline Trail, Jasper National Park, AB, Canada
The Skyline Trail through Jasper National Park in Canada is not for the fainthearted. The hike starts at Maligne Lake and ends at the bottom of Signal Mountain with three challenging passes in between them.
The hike is 47km long and takes anywhere from 2–4 days to complete while backpacking, depending on how much ground you cover each day. But it boasts some of the most amazing views of the mountains and lakes in the area.
Angels Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
This route takes hikers up 1,488 feet of elevation during the 8km (5 miles) roundtrip hike. The trail features sheer cliffs and steep climbing, making it extremely mentally challenging for those with a fear of heights. You’re not only using your feet, though—the last segment of the trail involves grasping chains to keep your footing as your climb to the top!
Mount Hoffman Hike, Yosemite National Park, California
This is one of the most popular hikes in Yosemite National Park, but you’re better off waiting until the snow melts before tackling this trail. The 10.5km (6.5 miles) route takes hikers up 630 meters in elevation and takes anywhere from 4.5–7 hours to complete based on experience and weather conditions.
The trail for this hike isn’t always clear to see, so while it leads to an amazing view, children are not advised to attempt it.
The Stawamus Chief, Squamish, BC, Canada
This hike in Squamish, which is located slightly northwest of Vancouver, has three diverging trails on the Stawamus Chief Mountain, each taking you to a different summit with a breathtaking view. The trails are steep, with some areas offering extra assistance, such as rope and ladder fixtures, but it’s possible to hike to all three peaks in about six hours for a total 11km (7 miles) journey.
The Titcomb Basin Trail, Wyoming
The Titcomb Basin Trail is a 46.8km (29 miles) route through the Wind River Range in Wyoming that most hikers aspire to travel. The trail passes through dense forest, flowery meadows, lakes, and ponds as travelers start at the Pole Creek Trail and navigate to the Titcomb Basin. Much like in Denali National Park, you have to look out for bears.
The Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC, Canada
While not particularly long, the 2.9km trail is one of the most athletically grueling climbs in North America. It’s often referred to as “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster” because the entire hike takes place at a steep incline that requires a whole lot of strength and endurance to conquer.
However, as a reward for reaching the top, you get to take a gondola down and enjoy the sights of the city.
The Rubicon Trail Hike, Lake Tahoe, California
The Rubicon Trail is a 19km (11.9 miles) trail located near South Lake Tahoe. This moderately challenging route includes an elevation gain of 1,381 feet on a footpath that covers both rocky terrain and sandy coast. The most popular trailheads are at D.L. Bliss State Park and Emerald Bay State Park, with most people starting at one, getting to the other, and making the trek back.
The Hilina Pali Trail, The Big Island, Hawaii
This downward hike takes you from Hilina Pali Outlook down the side of a volcano using a steep path of volcanic rock. Most people use this trail in combination with the Halape trail as a means to travel down to the beautiful Halape Beach.
Just because it’s downhill does not mean it’s easy: the walk down is hard on the knees, and hiking poles are recommended. Hilina Pali essentially means “windy cliff,” so be careful on your descent.
Auriol Peak, Kluane National Park, YK, Canada
The Auriol Peak trail is a very difficult climb for those who really like a challenge. The 9km (5.6 miles) long route takes hikers up 4157 feet in elevation to the impressive peak between Quill Peak and Mount Martha Black in the Auriol mountain range. The strenuous climb often demands that hikers take two days to complete it, spending one night camping along the trail.
Bridal Veil Falls Trail, Telluride, Colorado
This short but steep hike takes you up to Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling falls in Colorado. The trail itself is only 2.9km (1.8 miles) long, but it takes hikers up 1,650 feet in elevation. The hike itself only takes about an hour one way, and the site has enticed visitors for decades.
Andrew Molerra Loop, Big Sur, California
This trail is a 14km (8.8 miles) long loop that goes through redwood forests, oakwood groves, and also offers stunning views of the California coastline. While a good workout and moderately difficult, the path is well-groomed and easy to follow. Also, the trail offers access to some remote beaches so you can get a swim in along with your hike!