The USA is home to some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the world. While some are only suited to advanced nature buffs, many trails are perfectly suited to beginners. We’ve listed a few of our favourite hikes that are suitable for beginners, ranging from easy walks to strenuous (though manageable) treks:
Where: Lassen Peak Trail, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Length: 8 kilometres round-trip
The Lassen Peak trail takes you over the southern stretch of the Cascades’ volcanic mountains. It’s not exactly a laid back walk – the summit is 3.187 meters high, and you’ll have to climb 610 meters in four kilometers to get there. However, compared to other peaks in the Cascades, Lassen Peak is far more accessible, and for a bit of effort, you’ll be able to cross climbing an active volcano off your bucket list.
Where: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Length: various trails, from 1.5 to 8 km kilometres round-trip
Difficulty: easy to strenuous
Many of the trails in the Gunnison National Park offer spectacular views without requiring too much effort. Just a short walk from the visitor centre will bring you to the edge of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which, at 549 meters deep, is one of the deepest and steepest canyons in the world. Many of the trails along the North and South rim of the canyon are very accessible, so you can choose the level of challenge you want.
Where: Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah
Distance: 8 kilometres
While this trail is definitely not for those with a fear of heights, the walk itself is one of the most accessible hikes in Zion National Park. The natural surroundings, red cliffs, desert nature and amazing view of the valley below will be well worth the climb. There are chains to hold on to for the steepest parts of the walk, and there are beautiful resting spots along the way, so taking your time will make this hike much easier.
Where: Hawksbill to Swift Run hike, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Length: 37 kilometers one way
Perfect for beginners who want to build up their stamina for multiple-day hikes, this trek takes you through the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. A large part of the hike follows the Appalachian Trail, with several waterfalls, streams and campsites. The hike is best split into four days, with roughly five miles a day of relatively easy-going terrain and plenty of time to take in the beauty of your surroundings. For treks lasting multiple days, remember to apply for a free backcountry camping permit from the National Park Service.
Whether you’re going on a day-hike or planning a trek of several days, make sure to properly plan your trip to the USA. UK citizens will need an ESTA rather than a visa (find out how to arrange one on this website). Bring or plan to buy a good backpack, water bottle, first-aid kit and proper hiking shoes to make sure that you have everything you need for the perfect hike in the USA!