Hiking has become more popular in recent years and some of the best day hikes in the USA can be found in National Parks. From short, easy hikes to more strenuous ones these National Parks offer some breathtaking scenery. Most parks are close enough to airports which makes easy to fly, rent a car for a few days and enjoy getting out of the office.
Zion National Park in Utah offers several hiking trails but for the best views you need to take on the 6 hour, 12.9 km Observation Point hike. Climbing through Echo Canyon to the Observation Point you will experience long drop offs. Considered a strenuous hike, those that undertake it are rewarded with some of the best views of the Park.
The most popular of all hikes in The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is the Bright Angel Hike. Considered the parks premier hiking trail, The Bright Angel trail takes hikers from the North rim of the canyon to river following a 9.5 mile descending trail. The trail is well maintained, has regular drinking water and covered rest areas along the route. First built in 1891 to reach mining claims the trail approximates a route taken for hundreds of years by various Native American groups that called the canyon home. The trail has been improved throughout the years and is the most popular of all the hikes in the Grand Canyon.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park located in western Colorado is not as well known as many other National Parks. The Gunnison River runs through Black Canyon and the park has several trails ranging from hiking the inner canyon to Rim hikes offering sweeping views of the canyon. The North Vista trail is a 10 mile hike with the first three miles being relatively easy. The remainder of the hike will take you through a pinyon/juniper forest, offering views of SOB draw and the inner canyon ending at Green Mountain.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, extends along the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers over 500 miles of hiking trails including 101 miles of the famed Appalachian Trail. The Rapidan Camp via Mill and Laurel Prongs, Appalachian Trail hike is a 7.4 mile circuit hike that will take you through parts of the Appalachian trail along streams and cascades until arriving at Rapidan Camp. The camp was built by President Herbert Hoover and his wife as their retreat from 1929 to 1933. The Camp David of the time saw foreign dignitaries and visitors from around the world. Additional camps for the cabinet members and military were built nearby.
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the states of North Carolina and Tennessee. Offering over 850 miles of trails inside the park, hikers can enjoy treks year-round. One of the most scenic hikes is the Mount Sterling Hike via Baxter Creek. The Baxter Creek trail is one of the hardest hikes in the park. Although the trail is well graded, it is steep. Hikers ascend 4200 feet in 6.2 miles. Hiking through lush old growth forests, hikers arrive at the summit where even more stunning views can be had by climbing to the top of the 60ft fire tower.
US Parks offer reasonable entry fees and some of the best hiking to be had. Whether you are just starting out or looking for a challenge the day hikes at US National Parks offer a trail for every level of hiker.