Dust off your hiking boots and grab your backpack for this wanderlust-worthy roundup of hiking vacations in the US. From family-friendly, scenic trails to heart-thumping climbs, we’ve uncovered 15 great hiking trips you can take—no matter the season.
If your favorite part of a hike is getting back to home base with a sense of accomplishment, FlipKey has you covered. Each of these outdoor getaways offers amazing cabin rentals available to book right on our site. Enjoy a celebratory, post-hike drink on the private patio, utilize the full kitchen for a home-cooked meal, then light up the fireplace and hunker down for a movie night.
And it’s not just the stellar trails and cabins that make these some of the best hiking vacations in America—after all, you may want at least one day of lighter outdoor recreation. That’s why we’re also featuring top tours, activities, and in-destination experiences to enjoy during your stay—courtesy of our friends at TripAdvisor (FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company). Think guided photography tours of Yosemite, visiting a conservation center in the Adirondacks, or a wine-and-waterfalls excursion in Oregon.
Acadia National Park, ME
Acadia National park is one for superlatives—both the most-visited national park in the Northeast and home to the highest peak along the North Atlantic seaboard, Acadia is one of the best hiking destinations in the US. Make the drive up Cadillac Mountain to take in stunning views from the 1,500-foot tall peak, or challenge yourself to hikes like the Gotham Mountain Trail. You can even rent canoes and kayaks to take out from Bar Harbor. Check it all out on your own or join a guided tour, like this 7-day Food, Brews, and Hiking tour of New England, to see the park’s highlights.
Glacier National Park, MT
Montana may be landlocked, but a visit to Glacier National Park is all about the water. Hike to pristine alpine lakes, drive past waterfalls, or take a white-water rafting trip down the Flathead River. The Grinnell Glacier stands as a looming challenge over the park, but its rewarding views are unbeatable—be sure to bring plenty of food and water if you do the 8-mile trail on your own. Then, give your legs a break when you drive down the 52-mile Going-to-the-Sun-Road, a scenic highlight reel of Glacier National Park’s diverse wildlife and incredible landscapes.
Yosemite National Park, CA
In Yosemite, steep granite cliffs tower above redwood trees and host tumbling waterfalls. Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and El Capitan stand out as the park’s most recognized natural formations. Though so much wilderness makes Yosemite one of the best hiking vacations you can take, the park is also a hit among photographers. Follow in the footsteps of Ansel Adams on a Yosemite photography tour to find the park’s best angles. Plus, unlike many parks that are far from urban centers, Yosemite is easily visited on a day trip from San Francisco, Tahoe, or San Jose.
Update: Due to the recent wildfires, please refer to the National Park Services’ website for information about accessibility and permissibility in Yosemite.
Big Sur, CA
Rocky coastlines give way to crashing Pacific waves in Big Sur, a gem of a hiking destination along the California coast. Big Sur is easy enough to fit in during a California road trip—the area is right off Highway 1—but Big Sur’s incredible natural beauty merits its own visit. Take a hike through Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park or at the Point Sur State Historic Park for gorgeous views of mist-shrouded cliffs and waterfalls dropping straight into the ocean. If you don’t have your own car, consider visiting as part of a tour, like this Pacific Coast Highway day trip.
Great Smoky Mountains, TN/NC
The Great Smoky Mountains are one of the best hiking vacations for their rolling hills and scenic trails. Hike up Mount LeConte to see the Smokies stretching endlessly into the horizon, or check out the popular Alum Cave Trail, which leads you past rushing rivers through fields of wildflowers. Though well-marked trails make it easy enough to explore on your own, go with a guide to make the most of every moment. Specialty tours include a Smoky Mountains Waterfall Adventure and a historic Smoky Mountain hike that highlights Cherokee and settler history in the area.
Zion National Park, UT
Zion National Park is easily one of the most-recognized hiking destinations in the US, known for its mesmerizing red rocks smoothly carved out by water. Bring your A-game to the trails at The Narrows, aptly named for the tight squeezes needed to get through columns of river-bound rocks. Once through, you will be richly rewarded by a number of viewpoints around the park that will surely take your breath away. If you’re looking for extra adventure, try a rock climbing and canyoneering tour or combine a visit to Zion with other nearby parks on a multi-day guided tour of Utah.
Blue Ridge, GA
The sleepy town of Blue Ridge is full of historic Southern charm. Ride down old train trestles on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway, stroll through the quaint boutique-filled downtown, or bring the whole family for a day of outdoor fun at the Toccoa River Swinging Bridge or Long Creek Falls. Plus, because it’s nestled in the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the town is an ideal home base for a mountain retreat.
Estes Park is the quintessential Rocky Mountains vacation destination and aptly known as the Gateway to the Rockies. Between its homey downtown and easy access to some of the best hiking trips in Colorado, Estes Park is a top stop for serious backpackers and casual hikers alike. Experienced hikers can use Estes as a basecamp for longer ascents into the Rocky Mountains, while nature-lovers of all hiking abilities love the easy Adams Falls Trail and hike to Lily Lake. If you aren’t looking to attempt hikes on your own, a guided tour like the Discover Rocky Mountain National Park tour or a private wildlife safari offer good introductions to the area’s rich wildlife and scenery.
Big Bear Lake, CA
Big Bear Lake may be small, but it packs in plenty of outdoor activities. This lakeside retreat in southern California is best known for its winter skiing, but also offers a number of hiking trails like Castle Rock Trail that are perfect for exploring in the summer. The area also features the popular Big Bear Alpine Zoo, which rehabs native animals and offers visitors a great chance to learn about local wildlife, including the lake’s namesake creatures.
Columbia River Gorge, OR
In addition to being one of the best hiking destinations in the US, Columbia River Gorge is one of the most popular and scenic day trips from Portland. Take a half-day tour from Portland to the picture-ready Multnomah Falls—a wine-tasting and waterfalls tour is also an option—or spend the afternoon wandering down well-marked trails and taking scenic drives on your own. Dewy forest floors and wildflower-filled fields make Columbia River Gorge a hiker’s dream. Opt for a cabin in Hood River and you’ll be just a few miles away.
South Lake Tahoe, CA
Clear glacial waters hemmed by towering snow-capped peaks make South Lake Tahoe a popular vacation destination. Though hiking Mt. Tallac Trail or to Lower Eagle Falls are good trekking options, the area is also well-known for its water sports and cultural activities. Take a cruise on Emerald Bay, book a parasailing adventure, or snag a kayak for a day paddling through blue waters. Then, hit up the town’s many restaurants, bars, and clubs for a fun end to a full day.
A whole island full of gorgeous scenery and exciting outdoor activities, Kauai makes for a paradisiacal hiking vacation. From the jagged ridges of Na Pali Coast State Park to the gulches of Waimea Canyon, hiking opportunities abound—and more. Rev your adrenaline with an off-road adventure, unwind on a sunset dinner cruise, or opt into one of the most popular helicopter tour destinations in the country. With a whole island of activities to choose from, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy.
Jackson Hole, WY (Grand Teton National Park)
Jackson Hole is a skiing paradise in the winter, but has hikes to waterfalls, crater lakes, and woodland wonderlands during warmer months. From the family-friendly Cascade Canyon Trail to the heart-thumping Static Peak Divide, Grand Teton National Park is by far one of the best hiking vacations you can take. Pack in even more adventure by booking a Grand Teton safari for chances to see animals like elk, bears, and bison in the wild.
Jay, VT (Jay Peak)
A high-end ski resort turns summertime bucket-list destination in Jay, a cozy city with family-friendly amenities and plenty to keep kids entertained, including the popular Jay Peak Pump House. The town’s best hike is to its namesake summit, Jay Peak, a moderate 3-mile trail past wildflowers, boulders, and pastures.
The Adirondacks have great hiking, to be sure, but they offer a whole lot more: go white-water rafting, learn about conservation at the kid-friendly Wild Center, or make some waves on glassy Lake Placid. Be sure to get to Bald Mountain, too, for an easy hike for the whole family.
This post was originally published on the TripAdvisor blog. FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company.