15 Epic Hiking Trails Across America’s National Parks

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America’s National Parks are more popular than ever, and one of the best ways to escape the crowds is to hit the trails. We’ve found that most tourists will only hike the first half mile or so of a trail, so anything beyond that offers up amazing solitude and views that only a lucky few can take in.

These trails range from relatively short hikes that can be done in an afternoon to epic 100+ mile trails that can take a week or more to complete. So whether you’re a veteran backpacker or new to hiking, then there is a trail on this list for you!

So load up the backpack and lace up your hiking shoes as we explore some of the most epic hiking trails across America’s national parks.

1. Highline Trail – Glacier National Park, Montana

Scenic Highline Trail Views of Glacier Valley by the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, Montana
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: This 11.8-mile trail offers breathtaking views of the Continental Divide and gorgeous alpine meadows. Keep an eye out for mountain goats and stunning wildflower displays.
  • Highlights: Stunning views, Garden Wall, wildlife sightings
  • Permits: No permit is required for the hike, but you are required to secure a permit to drive to the trailhead, which is located along Going-to-the-Sun Road.

2. Angels Landing – Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park Utah - Angel's Landing Hike - Chains on Narrow Ledge Above Zion Canyon - Permits Needed For This Hiking Trail
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  • Description: A challenging 5.4-mile round trip hike known for its narrow ridge and dramatic drop-offs. The panoramic views of Zion Canyon from the summit are unmatched.
  • Highlights: Scout Lookout, chains section, Zion Canyon views
  • Permits: Trail permits are required and are available seasonally and day-ahead

3. Half Dome – Yosemite National Park, California

Half Dome at Yosemite
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  • Description: This strenuous 14-16 mile hike is famous for its cable route that assists hikers in climbing the final 400-foot ascent to the summit and its 360-degree views from the top
  • Highlights: Vernal and Nevada Falls, Half Dome cables, Yosemite Valley views
  • Permits: Permits are required while the cables are in place and are available through a lottery. Entry permits into Yosemite National Park are also required.

4. The Narrows – Zion National Park, Utah

Amazing landscape of canyon in Zion National Park, The Narrow in USA
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  • Description: An otherworldly hike through the Virgin River and within the narrow canyon walls, where you’ll wade and sometimes swim to make your way along the hike. It’s a 16-mile top-down hike or a shorter bottom-up day hike.
  • Highlights: Wall Street, Orderville Canyon, narrow canyon walls
  • Permits: No permit is required to hike from the bottom up, but a wilderness permit is required to hike the length from the top down.

5. Wonderland Trail – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mount Rainier with Wonderland Trail and a log for trail
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: A 93-mile loop around Mount Rainier that takes most backpackers one to two weeks to complete. It offers diverse landscapes, from alpine meadows to rocky river crossings to dense forests, all the while hiking in the shadow of the mighty Mt. Rainier.
  • Highlights: Panhandle Gap, Mystic Lake, Tolmie Peak Lookout
  • Permits: Timed entry permits are required to enter the park during peak season, and wilderness permits are required to backpack the trail. No permit is required for day hikes on the Wonderland trail.

6. Rim-to-Rim – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

hiking the south kaibab trail at cedar ridge in grand canyon national park in arizona in the usa
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: This challenging hike takes you from the North Rim to the South Rim over 24 miles, showcasing the vastness and beauty of the Grand Canyon.
  • Highlights: Bright Angel Trail, Phantom Ranch, Colorado River
  • Permits: No permits are required for day hikes, but overnight trips require reservations, which are done on a lottery basis.

7. Beehive Trail – Acadia

Female hiker standing on ledge enjoying view of water from Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: This 1.4-mile round-trip hike is known for its steep ascent, featuring iron rungs and ladders that guide hikers up the cliffs. The trail rewards adventurers with panoramic views of Sand Beach, Frenchman Bay, and the surrounding rugged coastline.
  • Highlights: Stunning ocean vistas and rock scrambles
  • Permits: No permits required

8. Harding Icefield Trail – Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

A man in a red jacket is gazing out over Exit Glacier in Alaska, USA. Man is standing on green grass covered hill overlooking glacier from the Harding Icefield Trail.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: This 8.2-mile round-trip hike offers incredible views of the Harding Icefield and Exit Glacier. Hikers can choose the shorter path to the glacier face or the tougher test that takes you on the ridges high above the ice fields.
  • Highlights: Glacier views and stunning vistas
  • Permits: No permits required

9. Skyline Trail – Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

The Skyline Trail at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington State rises above Paradise and the tree line to provide stunning views of the active volcano
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: A 5.4-mile loop that provides stunning views of Mount Rainier, alpine flowers, and wildlife. Make sure to do the loop clockwise to make the most of the views while heading uphill.
  • Highlights: Panorama Point, Myrtle Falls, glacier views
  • Permits: A timed entry permit is required to enter the park during peak season, but no permit is required on the hike.

10. Grinnell Glacier Trail – Glacier National Park, Montana

Grinnell Lake - Spring evening sunlight shines on colorful Grinnell Lake and rugged Mt. Gould and Angel Wing, as seen from Grinnell Glacier Trail. Many Glacier, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: A 10.3-mile round-trip hike leading to one of the park’s most famous glaciers. The trail offers spectacular views of turquoise lakes and towering peaks of the northern Rocky Mountains.
  • Highlights: Grinnell Glacier, Grinnell Lake, wildlife sightings
  • Permits: No trail permits are required, but an entry reservation is required for the Many Glacier section of the park where the trailhead is located

11. Cascade Canyon Trail – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Cascade Canyon in Grand Teton National Park
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: This 13.6-mile round-trip hike takes you through the heart of the Teton Range, featuring stunning views of jagged peaks, pristine lakes, and the wildlife that calls the park home.
  • Highlights: Jenny Lake, Inspiration Point, Hidden Falls
  • Permits: No permits required

12. Longs Peak – Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, USA. Tourist trail to famous Longs Peak.
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  • Description: A challenging 14.5-mile round trip hike to the summit of Longs Peak that requires hiking, scrambling, and comfort in traversing high country. Climbing to the top of Longs Peak is absolutely not for beginners.
  • Highlights: Keyhole Route, Chasm Lake, summit views
  • Permits: No permits are required, but timed entry reservations are necessary if arriving after 9am

13. Old Rag Mountain – Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Amazing fall colors from the summit of old rag mountain
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: An 8.8-mile loop known for its rock scrambles and panoramic views from the summit. This hike is one of the most popular hikes in the Shenandoahs, especially on weekends.
  • Highlights: Rock scrambles, summit views, fall colors
  • Permits: Day-use tickets are required

14. Bright Angel Trail – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Rear view of woman with backpack sitting on rock along Bright Angel trail with aerial overlook of South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, USA, America. Amazing vista after sunrise in summer
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
  • Description: A popular trail that descends from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the Colorado River. The trail is 9.5 miles one way, drops 4,500 feet to the river below, and is the south part of the Rim-to-Rim trail.
  • Highlights: Indian Garden, Plateau Point, Colorado River
  • Permits: No permits required

15. John Muir Trail – Yosemite to Mount Whitney, California

Backpacking the John Muir Trail, high sierra wilderness 10k ft +. Mountains, passes and lakes
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  • Description: A 211-mile trail that passes through some of the most beautiful mountain terrain in the world, including Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks.
  • Highlights: Yosemite Valley, Ansel Adams Wilderness, granite peaks of the Sierra Range
  • Permits: Permits are required
About the author
Derek Carlson
Pacific Northwest native, cross-country skier, hiker, mountain biker, wannabe fly fisherman, writer and owner of Roam the Northwest