One of the Most Popular Hikes in Every State: Part 2
Wanting to explore highly-rated trails? In this second installment, Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. runs through one of the most popular hikes in each state.
Want to know what the most popular hike in your state is? If you didn’t see your state in Part 1, get on reading!
Note: 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.
Montana: Lava Lake (Cascade Creek) Trail
Near Gallatin Gateway, Montana is Lava Lake Trail—a six-mile out-and-back trail with over 1,600 feet of elevation gain. It features a lake and is primarily used for hiking, horseback riding, and snowshoeing, and its difficulty is rated as moderate. The average time it takes to complete is around three hours and 20 minutes and the trail is best used from June to October. The trail is very clearly marked and is surrounded by Spanish Peaks, so 10,000 unnamed peaks will surround you with beautiful views of snowy mountains. Learn more about hiking the trail here.
Nebraska: Platte River State Park Trail Loop
Dog and horse-friendly, the Platte River State Park Trail Loop is a 6.7-mile loop with 800 feet of elevation gain. It is a must-do in Louisville, Nebraska. This trail is best used from March to October and it is suggested to bring trekking poles in case of icy conditions. The trail features a beautiful river that often freezes. There is a fee to enter the park that can be purchased at the entrance to the park. Learn more and get directions here.
Nevada: Hunter Creek Trail
Near Reno, Nevada, in the Toiyabe National Forest is Hunter Creek Trail—a 6.7-mile out-and-back trail with 1,240 feet of elevation gain. This trail is popular for hiking and trail running and is great for dogs and families. A beautiful 30-foot waterfall awaits you at the end of the trail. There are also bathrooms at the trailhead. It is not shaded, so wear a hat and bring extra water. Learn more here.
New Hampshire: Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop
The Mount Lafayette and Franconia Ridge Trail Loop is a strenuous, heavily-trafficked 8.6-mile loop with almost 4,000 feet of elevation gain situated in White Mountain National Forest in Lincoln, New Hampshire. This trail is only suggested for very advanced hikers due to the difficulty of the trail. If you make it to the peak, you will see a beautiful waterfall. This trail is best used for mountain biking, hiking, and snowshoeing and is best used from April to October. Learn more about the trail here.
New Jersey: Mount Tammany: Red Dot and Blue Dot Loop Trail
Mount Tammany is near Pahaquarry, New Jersey, and the Red Dot and Blue Dot Loop Trail features a river and is rated as a moderate trail. This trail is used for hiking and is accessible year-round. The trail is 5.4 miles long with 1,200 feet of elevation gain. The parking lot typically is full by early morning on the weekends, so try to go during the week to ensure you have a spot! Although it is dog-friendly, many suggest leaving your dog at home due to the difficulty of the trail. Read more about the trail here.
New Mexico: Pino Trail
Pino Trail near Albuquerque, New Mexico, is a nine-mile out-and-back trail with over 2,700 feet of elevation gain. It is rated as difficult—understandably so. This trail is best used from April to September in order to see beautiful wildflowers, and it is best used for hiking and trail running. Look around for the Sandia Mountains on your climb up. Learn more here.
New York: Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain Trail is a heavily trafficked 3.8-mile loop with 1,150 feet of elevation gain. Located in Bear Mountain State Park, New York, this trail features a lake and is best used from April to November. This trail is also dog-friendly. This loop uses parts of the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Major Welch Trail. There is a fee to enter the park that is only collected from late June to early September. Read more about the fee and trail here.
North Carolina: Looking Glass Rock Trail
Popular activities at the Looking Glass Rock Trail near Brevard, North Carolina, include hiking, trail running, birdwatching, and rock climbing amongst the boulders! Make sure to park in appropriate areas to avoid fines, some hikers have reported. This trail is a 6.1-mile out-and-back trail with over 1,700 feet of elevation gain. There are some technical and steep sections that require proper footwear and trekking poles may also come in handy. If you bring your dog, make sure to keep it on leash to avoid more fines. Learn more about the trail and beautiful views here.
North Dakota: Caprock Coulee Loop
Situated in Theodore Roosevelt National Park in Watford City, North Dakota, is the Caprock Coulee Loop Trail. This moderate trail is 4.4 miles long with 583 feet of elevation gain and features beautiful wildflowers. The trail is accessible year-round and is perfect for hiking with the family or trail running. Learn more about entrance fees here.
Ohio: Ledges Trail
Near Peninsula, Ohio, in Cuyahoga Valley National Park is Ledges Trail—a 2.3-mile loop with 209 feet of elevation gain. This short and sweet trail is perfect for the family and hikers of all experience levels. The trail is quite confusing, but if you follow the correct path you will walk underneath grand ledges that are quite impressive and eventually make it to the cave. For specific directions, look here.
Oklahoma: Turkey Mountain via Yellow Trail
Turkey Mountain via Yellow Trail is a 3.7-mile loop with 377 feet of elevation gain near Tulsa, Oklahoma. Some popular activities here include trail running, hiking, mountain biking, birdwatching, horseback riding, and more. This trail features a river and is family-friendly. Hike through lush forests around the river on this moderate trail and stop on the bank for a quick snack. Read more about the trail here.
Oregon: Trail of Ten Falls
Near Mehama, Oregon is Silver Falls State Park and the Trail of Ten Falls. This 9,000-acre park has ample space to explore, with the Trail of Ten Falls being the most popular trail. With ten falls, and four you can walk behind, this trail is perfect for a warmer day when you need to dip your toes in to escape the heat. With it being 8.7 miles long and having just under 1,200 feet of elevation gain, this trail is marked as moderate with sections that are far easier and perfect for the family. Learn more about directions to the trail here.
Pennsylvania: Mount Minsi via Appalachian Trail
In Pennsylvania’s Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is Mount Minsi via Appalachian Trail, a five-mile loop trail with just over 1,000 feet of elevation gain. This trail features a lake and is rated as moderate. Popular activities include wildlife watching, hiking, trail running, and more. Hike through forests, boulder and scramble over some rock formations, and keep an eye out for local birds. Although this trail is accessible year-round, it is recommended to bring poles or microspikes for icy spots in winter conditions. Learn more about the trail here.
Rhode Island: Carr’s Pond and Tarbox Pond Trail
Carr’s Pond and Tarbox Pond Trail in Coventry, Rhode Island, is an easy four-mile loop with 270 feet of elevation gain that is perfect for the entire family on a warm afternoon! Hiking, mountain biking, and running are a few of the popular activities done on the trail. Keep your dog on leash if you want to bring them and enjoy the beauty of the pond! Learn more here.
South Carolina: Table Rock Trail
The Table Rock Trail is a strenuous hike that will make you climb 2,329 feet of elevation over the length of the 6.7-mile out-and-back trail. This trail features a waterfall and is located near Pickens, South Carolina. Many bear sightings have been reported here, so bring bear spray and any other gear you need to be prepared for any encounters. Cross streams and bridges until you make it to the peak that offers gorgeous views. If you’re short on time, do the first few miles for a great morning workout! Learn more about the trail here.
South Dakota: Notch Trail
Badlands National Park near Interior, South Dakota, is a beautiful national park that holds one of the most popular trails in the state: Notch Trail. This is a short and sweet 1.3-mile out-and-back trail with 130 feet of elevation gain. Keep in mind that this trail is not shaded, so wear a hat, some sunscreen, and bring extra water on warmer days. Trail activities include hiking, running, climbing, and scrambling. Learn more about the entrance fee and trail here.
Tennessee: Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte
The Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte is hard, really hard, really really hard. This 10.6-mile out-and-back trail has over 2,900 feet of elevation gain and is best used from April to November. It is near Gatlinburg, Tennessee, features a waterfall, and is not dog-friendly, so leave the pup at home. The first 1.3 miles have a gradual incline that takes you to Arch Rock, which has interesting geological features. At mile two, you will get to Inspiration Point and have beautiful views of Myrtle Point on Mount LeConte, Little Duck Hawk Ridge, and The Eye of the Needle. Read more about this challenging but rewarding hike here.
Texas: Riverplace Nature Trail
Riverplace Nature Trail is a moderate 5.5-mile out-and-back trail with 823 feet of elevation gain. This trail is accessible year-round, is dog-friendly, and features a beautiful waterfall—all outside of Austin, Texas. The stairs up are challenging, so drink that extra cup of green tea and get that energy flowing. There is a fee collected by credit card only at the trailhead. Get directions to the trail here.
Utah: Angels Landing Trail
Perhaps this is an obvious one, but Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park, Utah, is perhaps one of the most popular trails in the country. This strenuous five-mile out-and-back hike has 1,630 feet of elevation gain and is not for the faint of heart. There are steep drop-offs, narrow pathways, winding roads, a gorgeous river, and the famous 21 steep switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles. This also may be obvious, but avoid standing near the edge at all times. Learn more about Zion National Park and this trail here.
Vermont: Stowe Pinnacle Trail
The Stowe Pinnacle Trail is a strenuous hike that is 3.7 miles long with 1,604 feet of elevation gain. The trail is best used for hiking and birdwatching. It is best to hike here from April to October and the trail is dog-friendly—make sure your dog is up for the challenge first! Carrying your dog down may make this trail much harder than it already is. The parking lot fills up fast, so get there early or go during the week to avoid the crowds! Learn more here.
Virginia: Old Rag Mountain Loop
Shenandoah National Park near Etlan, Virginia, is a beautiful park to hike around all day. Head to Old Rag Mountain Loop Trail, a 9.4-mile loop with 2,680 feet of elevation gain. This trail is best used from May to October and is rated as difficult. Multiple switchbacks, lush forests, light scrambling, and epic views make this the most popular trail in the state. Learn more about the entrance fee and the trail here.
Washington: Lake 22 Trail
The Lake 22 Trail is a heavily trafficked trail near Granite Falls, Washington, that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. It is a 5.7-mile loop with almost 1,500 feet of elevation gain. This trail is best used for hiking, trail running, snowshoeing, and nature trips. Learn more about the trail here.
West Virginia: Maryland Heights via Harpers Ferry
The Maryland Heights via Harpers Ferry trail in Knoxville, West Virginia, is a 4.6-mile out-and-back trail with 1,115 feet of elevation gain that offers stunning views of the river and town. This trail is best used from March to October, and certain sections are wheelchair and stroller-friendly. The incline can be steep at times, so trekking poles are recommended for extra support. Learn more about accessibility and directions here.
Wisconsin: Devil’s Lake via West Bluff Trail
With a 4.7-mile loop, 997 feet of elevation gain, and beautiful views of the lake—this trail already sounds amazing. Situated near Baraboo, Wisconsin, is Devil’s Lake via West Bluff Trail in Devil’s Lake State Park. This trail is primarily used for mountain biking, hiking, trail running, and birdwatching. Learn more here.
Wyoming: Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows Access
Delta Lake via Lupine Meadows Access is a strenuous 8.8-mile out-and-back trail with over 2,300 feet of elevation gain. Near Moose, Wyoming, this is a great trail to get away from daily life and enjoy lush forests, a clear, blue lake, and some fun rock scrambles. This trail is in Great Teton National Park, so definitely spend a few days here to explore all the park has to offer. Learn more about entrance fees here.
Did I miss your favorite trail in your state? Hit me up with some stories and let’s chat about all things outdoors.