The best hikes in the United States & Canada
Click here for the Dutch version of this post.
Love hiking but don’t fancy carrying your tent and other overnight stuff up that mountain? Then you’ll love our upcoming posts about the best (half) day hikes in various countries all over the world. Most of them can be done by anyone who has a bit of stamina and a passion for the great outdoors! Today we’re starting with the best hikes in the United States and Canada.
Please note that we have not been everywhere and the trails we selected just represent those places we have been to… Oh and the hikes are in total random order. I just couldn’t choose which one is my actual favorite…
1. Hanging Lake – Colorado
If you are going to be near Glenwood Springs, Colorado, make sure to do this hike. Even though Lonely Planet refers to it as strenuous, I assure you that you’ll be just fine and that all the effort of hiking up for 2 hours, will be rewarded. The trail isn’t long, just a bit under 2 km so you can easily do it in an early morning to beat the crowds. If you still have some energy left after climbing, just push a bit further upwards to Spouting Rock as well! For the full experience on our Hanging Lake hike, check this blog.
2. Reed Lakes – Alaska
It’s been a while already but one of the most memorable alpine hikes I did in Alaska definitely was the one up to Reed Lakes. Starting from Hatcher Pass, it’s a true gem hidden deep in Alaska’s wilderness. At the end of the track, you will find two alpine lakes nestled in the Talkeetna Mountains. It’s moderately strenuous however the boulder hopping can be tricky if it’s slippery. The hike will take you pretty much all day and is 15 km return. I hiked this one in June when major parts of the Upper Reed Lake were still frozen … stunning!
3. Wild Pacific Trail – British Columbia
Located on Vancouver Island’s wild westcoast, this is a fantastic trail for anyone who is not used to hiking but still wants to get a taste of it. The trail has various sections, the part I did is called the Lighthouse Loop and is located just outside of Ucluelet. You will hear the waves crashing into the rocks from afar and with a bit of luck you will encounter wildlife. One of the best views you will get is at Amphitrite Lighthouse, this beauty is located on a rocky part of the shore and somehow gave me an eerie feeling. The Lighthouse Loop is only 2.6 kms and took me about two hours. You can read more about my experience and see all the pictures in this blog.
4. Navajo Loop Trail – Utah
The best way to see the famous hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park is by hiking the Navajo Loop Trail. The trail is 5.6 km and will take you anywhere between 1-3 hours, depending on your shape and how many pictures you will take. The steepest part of the track is definitely Wall Street. If you want to avoid going up here (like we did) make sure to hike clockwise, however park rangers will advise not to walk down here because of its steepness. Hiking this trail is definitely the best option after sunrise at Sunrise Point! For more info about how to plan your trip to Bryce, check our blog about how to spend 24 hours in Bryce Canyon National Park.
5. Lake Agnes Teahouse – Alberta
When we were in Banff National Park some 10 years ago, we really wanted to hike the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail near Lake Louise. However, the weather was just terrible on the morning we planned our hike so we decided to shorten it instead. We first took the Lakeshore Trail, then to Big Beehive and from here up to Lake Agnes and its beautiful teahouse. A great spot for a break, especially in the pouring rain. It was about an 8 km loop but since there are plenty of trails out there, you can easily make it longer or shorter. One thing is for sure, one day we’ll be back for the Plain of the Six Glaciers!
6. Maroon Bells – Colorado
Another Colorado favorite, up to the most photographed mountains in the United States. If you fancy a real workout, make sure to cycle up to the Maroon Bells parking lot from the town of Aspen, a sturdy ride. From here, you can take a hike to Crater Lake, a 5 km return walk on a rocky path. There might still be snow way into the season but plowing through it will be well worth the effort. Once at Crater Lake and getting up close and personal with the Bells, I’m sure you won’t regret the sweat and pain you’ve been in… Read all about our bike & hike adventure here!
7. Delicate Arch – Utah
Don’t go to Arches National Park without hiking to Delicate Arch. The walk is not hard but it’s a long and steep uphill push, especially if you are not a hiker. It’s only a 5 km roundtrip and the best time of the day to go is at night when the sun is lighting up Delicate Arch. You will not be the only one there but I guarantee that you’ll love it. If you decide to go during the day, make sure to bring lots of water. You will be hiking in the sun most of the time and the slickrock can be a killer on a hot summer day. For more suggestions on hikes in Arches National Park, go to this blog.
8. Green Gardens – Newfoundland
Upon landing in St. John’s, Newfoundland, we realized it was going to be a wet and foggy vacation. From what we’ve heard, this part of Canada is shrouded in a layer of fog and/or rain about 5 days a week. After 10 days we got used to it and decided not to care anymore. The Green Gardens Trail in Gros Morne National Park was our wettest hike ever yet one of the most memorable. Especially the moment when you reach the shore and have great vistas over the (surprise!) Green Gardens … Parks Canada mentions that the trail goes over difficult terrain, especially when it has been raining. You need to ford two rivers by foot (we took our Crocs which made it a lot easier) and if the water is too high it may become impossible to pass. Rain or no rain, make sure to do this hike when in Newfoundland!
9. Angels Landing – Utah
Utah is amazing for hiking, thus we have 3 different hikes in our list. Angels Landing is the top trail in Zion National Park, however it’s not for the faint hearted. A long, steep climb will eventually bring you to a rocky point from where you have marvellous views all over the canyon. However don’t forget: who goes up, must come down, which is the most challenging part of the hike. There are chains in many places to hold on to and the trail is only wide enough for one person at a time … better be prepared! Read our full blog about Angels Landing for more information and pictures!
10. Cascade Canyon – Wyoming
Last but not least on our list is the Cascade Canyon trail in Grand Teton National Park. Start from the popular Jenny Lake which is extremely crowded but soon enough you will leave the other tourists behind when hiking up into Cascade Canyon. Since it’s a return via the same way, you can easily decide where you want to turn back. The trail will lead you through a valley surrounded by the high peaks of the Teton Range and most of the time you will feel like you are alone in the world. We made Forks of Cascade Canyon our turnaround point, 10km from the starting point. Count on approximately 8 hours for the return trip.
Those were our favorite hikes in the United States and Canada. As you can see, we’ve not been everywhere, but it’s on our list. Some places we’d still love to visit for hiking are Montana, Washington, California and New England, just to name a few …
Which hike did we forget? Any suggestions for hikes on our upcoming trips?
Want to read more about hiking in other places of the world? Keep an eye out on our social media as May is Hiking Month on our blog! On Instagram and Facebook we’ll post daily hiking inspiration and over the upcoming weeks we’ll publish more blogs. Other hiking blogs you may like:
– Tramping New Zealand: the Routeburn Track
– A day on Scotland’s West Highland Way
– On the Laugavegur Trek in Iceland
– A guide to hiking the Yosemite Mist Trail
Thank you for sharing!
I agree – Hanging Lake is probably my favorite hike in the US (it doesn’t hurt that I have a place in nearby Avon, Colorado). Great post!
Ohhh jealous that you live in near the biggest US playground then!! Enjoy the mountains!
Annika - Live Laugh Explore
Oh I LOVE this list!! I am very much into hiking and happen to live in Canada (sadly not on the West Coast for another year) and I have heard of many of these walks before. Colorado would be simply amazing, but who knew Utah is a hiker’s destination! I surely did not. Looks amazing though. That’s a very impressive list guys, I might just transfer this to be my bucket list lol
Thanks Annika! Canada is a dream place for hiking, I can’t wait to go back there one day and explore every other part of it. Happy hiking!
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Great list. I’ve always wanted to spend some time hiking and biking Utah. I’ll add some of these to my list. For suggestions for your upcoming hikes, I recommend the Eagle Creek trail in Oregon and the Garibaldi Lake trail in BC.
Cheers Clay! Utah is just fab and totally surprised us! I’ve been to BC various times but did not hear of the Garibaldi trek, is that near Whistler? I’m hoping to go to Oregon next year to hike a part of the PCT and will remember the Eagle Creek trail as well!
Garibaldi lake hike is about halfway between Vancouver and Whistler. We did the 13 mile Eagle Creek trail and for the return did a 11 or 12 mile stretch on the PCT. Good way to get both in.
I must have passed it when driving from Vancouver to Whistler last year. I wish I’d had more time there… I’ll keep them in mind!
Wat een fantastische hikes maak je toch. Wauw, ze zien er allemaal onwijs prachtig uit.
Dank je Laura 🙂
Oh boy, never been to any of these hiking spots 🙁 I particularly love the look of Lake Agnes in Alberta. I’d love to head there for my next hike!
Hope you will make it there one day, it’s beautiful, even in the rain…
Those are some incredibly stunning hikes and am not surprised at all that they made your list even though I am sure you have more. I am looking forward to getting to Utah as it is a place I have never been. As for the lakes and trails in Colorado I have done some and cannot think of one that disappointed.
I’m sure you will really enjoy Utah. Even though it may not sound like a number one hiking destination, we truly thought it was hikers paradise … maybe even more than Colorado?!?
Michelle | Travel lifestyle.nl
Wow, wat een prachtige hikes allemaal. We wilden in Schotland gaan hiken, maar ik was door mijn enkel gegaan (aan de zijkant van de weg haha!), dus we hebben alleen wat kleine wandelingen kunnen maken. In Nieuw-Zeeland wel een groot deel van de Tongariro crossing kunnen doen. Ook zo mooi. Lopend zie je toch wel hele mooie plekjes. Alaska lijkt me adembenemend! En jullie foto’s <3
Dank je Michelle en leuk dat je een comment achterlaat 🙂 Balen van Schotland … dat is ons overkomen tijdens de eerste keer Nieuw-Zeeland, 1 week voor aankomst daar had Martijn met een potje voetbal zijn enkel gekneusd, zo zonde …
Great suggestions. I’m gonna try to get to the Utah national parks soon. Maroon Bells is beautiful and the hike to Crater Lake is well worth it. Good advice to get to Hanging Lake early. They close the highway exit when the parking lot is full, which is often in the summer.
Yeah, the lot at Hanging Lake was already pretty full when we got there and it wasn’t even high season yet. It would be such a shame when you drive over and there’s no parking space. Have fun in Utah!!
Green gardens looks like my fave Anto! What a list of shots here. We even enjoyed hikes through small national parks in New Jersey, our home state. With bear, coyote and all types of critters around it’s a pretty thrilling deal…..for NJ LOL.
Thanks for the inspired share!
Ahhh the bear … yeah they are so cool yet scary at times. Have you ever run into one?
Maroon Bells is a killer! Great hike with amazing views but it’s a long and high one. Take several snacks and lunch with you if you set out.
Yeah but a gorgeous killer. Happy we got to experience this! 🙂
Agness of aTukTuk
These are probably one of the best hiking places I gave seen so far! Great list and very motivational post!
I’ve done all the Utah ones before and loved them! Definitely one of my favorite places to hike.
My all time favorite Hike I’ve done was The Chief in BC, a long and steep way up the mountain with chains and old ladders, but so worth the view!
Ahhh yes I’ve heard of that one, would love to do it one day! There are so many amazing trails in the US and Canada, I could hike for years and still nog have done all of the ones I’d love to do 🙂
Hanging Lake Trail was a great hike. We went in the afternoon on a Monday and had no problem with parking. The hike was a bit more rigorous than I was expecting. Definitely bring water. It’ll take about 2.5-3 hours to go from top to bottom.
Ahhh Monday afternoon sounds good then 🙂 happy to hear you’ve enjoyed it!