One of the Most Popular Hikes in Every State: Part 1

Looking to add a highly-rated hike to your next trip? Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. runs through one of the most popular hikes in each state.

The photo is centered on a trail that goes through a gently sloped field of wildflowers with mountains in the background.

Photo by Jashandeep Singh Kaleka

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A while ago, I wrote a series that highlighted some of the most challenging hikes in every state in the United States. Today, I’ll take you through one of the most popular hikes in each state. Let’s get right into it!

How did I find how popular the trail was? I used AllTrails! Whichever trail had the highest and the most ratings was the trail I went with. That being said, these are not necessarily the single most popular trail in every state—but they are certainly heavily used and loved! Take it with a grain of salt and get on reading.

The photo is centered on a trail that goes through a gently sloped field of wildflowers with mountains in the background.

Photo by Jashandeep Singh Kaleka

Alabama: Walls of Jericho Trail

Near Estillfork, Alabama, sits this 6.4-mile heavily-trafficked, difficult-rated, out-and-back trail with about 1,300 feet of elevation gain. Although the hike may seem fairly easy, the hike out is strenuous, so don’t forget to tie those hiking boots extra tight! Keep going until you see arguably the most beautiful waterfall in the state. Learn more and get directions here.

Alaska: Flattop Mountain Trail

This 3.3-mile loop with almost 1,500 feet of elevation gain is rated as moderate and will take you through the scenic and epic terrain of Alaska. Situated near Anchorage, the Flattop Mountain Trail is easily-accessible and is one of the most popular trails in the state by far. Bring some microspikes and trekking poles and hike in the snow for some beautiful winter wonderland scenes. Learn more about the trail here.

Arizona: Devil’s Bridge Trail

Devil’s Bridge Trail is a 4.2-mile moderate, out-and-back trail near Sedona, Arizona, with gorgeous wildflowers amongst the insane rock formations and cacti. This short but steep trail is a tourist attraction, so go early or during the week to avoid the crowds. Learn more about parking and the trail directions here.

Arkansas: Whitaker Point Trail (Hawksbill Crag)

Located in the Ozark National Forest near Pettigrew, Arkansas, is the Whitaker Point Trail. This 2.9-mile out-and-back, moderate trail is heavily-trafficked and increasingly popular. With just over 400 feet of elevation, this trail is friendly to many hiker levels and your dogs are welcome. Have some lunch at the waterfall and feel the cool breeze on your skin. Get directions here.

California: Potato Chip Rock via Mt. Woodson

Over 2,000 feet of elevation gain, more than seven miles, and a rock that looks like a potato chip? Only in Southern California—specifically, northern San Diego. This moderate (in my opinion, very difficult) trail features a lake and ends in a very “Instagrammable” photo-op. There is a steep grade uphill where you may not see too many people. When you get to the potato chip rock, keep an eye out for the line of people waiting to take a picture. Learn more here.

Colorado: Emerald Lake Trail

Located near Estes Park in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, is Emerald Lake Trail—a moderate 3.3-mile out-and-back trail with 700 feet of elevation gain. This trail is best used from June to October and features a lake, beautiful wildflowers, and other wildlife. Bring some spikes and trekking poles for any slippery, icy spots you may cross, or bring your snowshoes after a good snow. Learn more about the trail here.

Connecticut: Bear Mountain Trail

Bear Mountain Trail is a 6.5-mile heavily-trafficked loop trail with 1,700 feet of elevation gain. Trekking poles are recommended year-round, and you should always bring microspikes to avoid icy and slippery conditions. This trail is located near Salisbury, Connecticut, and is best used from March until November. Learn more about directions and parking here.

A trail goes through tall wildflowers with hills in the background.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Delaware: Alapocas Woods Trail

The Alapocas Woods Trail is a short and sweet trail rated as moderate that will take you up just over 200 feet of elevation gain across 1.8 miles. This loop trail features a waterfall in Alapocas Woods Park near Wilmington, Delaware. You have a choice of a paved or unpaved road, depending on your mood and activity. This family-friendly hike is great in the summer to enjoy the water and maybe a picnic or two! Learn more about the trail here.

Florida: Black Bear Wilderness Area Trail

The Black Bear Wilderness Area Trail is a heavily-trafficked 7.3-mile loop trail with 29 feet of elevation gain. This trail features a river where you can spot turtles, alligators, birds, snakes, and more. This trail is accessible year-round, and after your hike you can grab some coffee in the nearby town of Sanford, Florida. It is recommended to go counterclockwise on the trail to get the narrow terrain out of the way and to be able to enjoy the last few miles with wide open space around you. Learn more here.

Georgia: Mount Yonah Trail

Best used from February to November, Mount Yonah Trail near Cleveland, Georgia, is a difficult-rated, heavily-trafficked trail with just over 1,400 feet of elevation gain across 4.8 miles of wildflower-covered terrain. The climb up is challenging, but the views will make it all worth it at the end. The first two miles are the most difficult with some minimal scrambling involved that will get your quads working! There are some designated shortcuts, but they are steeper than the trail itself. Learn more about this challenging hike here.

Hawaii: Kilauea Iki and Crater Rim Trail

Situated in Hawaii Volcano National Park, the Kilauea Iki and Crater Rim Trail is rated moderate, with just under 700 feet of elevation gain across three miles of epic terrain. Hike down and across a solid lava lake and end up in a rainforest to the crater floor. Some highlights include the wildlife of the rainforest, steam vents, beautiful birds, and more. Learn more about the trail and national park here.

Idaho: Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail

The Mineral Ridge National Recreation Trail in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is 3.3 miles long and has 770 feet of elevation gain and the bluest lake, making this an increasingly popular trail in the state of Idaho. This trail is best used April to November and offers stunning views of the lake down below. This trail is mostly shaded, so feel free to head out in the summer! But don’t forget your sunscreen. Learn more here.

Illinois: Waterfall Glen Trail

The Waterfall Glen Trail in Lemont, Illinois, is just over nine miles long with 400 feet of elevation gain and features a beautiful waterfall. This trail is good for hikers of all skill-levels and is best used from April to October. Other activities include mountain biking and trail running. Bring the dogs too! Learn more about Waterfall Glen Trail here.

A rocky trail travels down the right side of the photo. The surroundings are green and lush with a bright blue sky behind them.

Photo by Wojciech Celiński

Indiana: Cowles Bog Trail

Placed in Indiana Dunes National Park is Cowles Bog Trail, a 4.3-mile loop trail with 213 feet of elevation gain that is rated as moderate. This trail is accessible year-round and is great for trail running, hiking, and snowshoeing. Fun fact: this trail is shaped like a lollipop! Learn more about the lollipop trail here.

Iowa: Hitchcock Nature Center Loop Trail

With 6.3 miles, 1,270 feet of elevation gain, and scenic views—what more do you need? The Hitchcock Nature Center Loop Trail is accessible year-round, is dog-friendly, and is great for hiking, running, birdwatching, and more. The trail is located near Honey Creek, Iowa, with beautiful scenery. To learn more about the nature center, look here.

Kansas: Shawnee Mission Park Orange, Violet, and Red Trail

Near Shawnee Mission, Kansas, is the Shawnee Mission Park Orange, Violet, and Red Trail. It is a 6.5-mile heavily-trafficked loop trail with 500 feet of elevation gain. This trail features a lake, is rated as moderate, and is best used from April to October. Bring the doggo friends, but keep an eye out for horses! Learn more about directions here.

Kentucky: Dog Slaughter Falls Trail

Creepy name aside, the Dog Slaughter Falls Trail in Corbin, Kentucky, is one of the more popular trails in the state. This out-and-back trail is a short and sweet 2.4-mile trail with 250 feet of elevation gain. This trail runs parallel to Dog Slaughter Creek and lots of dense forests filled mostly with hemlock and rhododendron. The 15-foot fall near the base of the creek is covered with boulders to climb over. Learn more about the trail here.

Louisiana: Bogue Chitto State Park Gorge Run Trail

The Bogue Chitto State Park Gorge Run Trail is a 5.7-mile heavily-trafficked loop trail with 239 feet of elevation gain near Franklinton, Louisiana. This trail features a lake and is great for running, hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and it is accessible for hikers of all skill-levels. There is a three-dollar entry fee per person. There are some shaded regions, but don’t forget extra water and a hat! Learn more here.

Maine: The Beehive Loop Trail

This short and sweet 1.4-mile loop trail with 488 feet of elevation gain is primarily used for hiking and is best used from May to October. Unfortunately, dogs are not welcome on this trail. Situated in Acadia National Park, Maine, the Beehive Loop Trail is near numerous beautiful spots to check out. It’s rated as difficult, so tie your boots extra tight and get hype. Learn more about the park and trail here.

Maryland: Annapolis Rock via Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail (AT) runs from Georgia to Maine with beautiful peaks in every state. The most popular part of the AT in Maryland is Annapolis Rock—a 5.1-mile out-and-back trail with 816 feet of elevation gain. Keep an eye out for gorgeous wildflowers and 360-degree panoramic views of lush wildlife. Learn more here.

Massachusetts: Great Blue Hill via Skyline Trail

Great Blue Hill via Skyline Trail is a three-mile loop trail that is heavily trafficked and will make you climb 820 feet. Situated near Milton, Massachusetts, is this moderate trail that features gorgeous wildflowers and is primarily used for hiking, running, and walking. Bring your dogs but keep them on leash. When you make it to the top, look out for the Boston Skyline and bring trekking poles for some additional support! Learn more about the trail here.

A trail winds its way around the left side of the photo. The trail is cliff-side on desert red rocks with a blue sky background.

Photo by Mick Haupt

Michigan: Mosquito Fall and Chapels Falls via Chapel Loop

Near Shingleton, Michigan, are the beautiful Mosquito Fall and Chapels Falls and trails that feature a lake. This trail is rated as moderate—770 feet of elevation over 10.1 miles—reads moderate to me! The falls lead into Lake Superior. Be sure to leave your dog at home; there is a $180 fine if you’re caught with your dog. Learn more and see photos of the trail here.

Minnesota: Lebanon Hills Loop

With 252 feet of elevation gain, 5.3 miles, and gorgeous lake views—need I say more? The Lebanon Hills Loop trail is rated moderate, is dog-friendly, and is conveniently located near Eagan, Minnesota. Lebanon Hills Regional Park covers 2,000 acres of land with miles of trails and lakes—perfect for exploring. Learn more about the trail and park here.

Mississippi: Clarke Creek Primitive Trail

Clarke Creek Primitive Trail is a 4.3-mile heavily-trafficked loop trail with almost 1,000 feet of elevation gain near Woodville, Mississippi. There is a fee in order to enter, and it’s recommended to bring single dollar bills to pay it. There are stairs in place of the steep incline road that you can use. There are also stairs at several waterfalls and multiple rest areas along the way. Learn more about the fee and trail here.

Missouri: River Scene Trail Loop

This trail is a 3.1-mile heavily-trafficked loop trail with 250 feet of elevation gain that is rated as moderate. River Scene Trail Loop is near Ballwin, Missouri, and features a beautiful lake. People often will mountain bike, hike, run, birdwatch, and partake in more activities on this trail that is accessible year-round. Learn more about this trail here.

Popular trails can be a great way to meet people, expand your hiking goals, and see new sights. That being said, if you are trying to get away from the crowds… these trails may not be for you. Try going early in the morning or during the week to escape larger crowds. Keep an eye out for Part 2 to learn about popular hikes in the remaining half of the states. Hit me up through my profile and let’s chat about all things outdoors!

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Written By
Hannah K
Hannah K
Camping & Hiking Expert
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...
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