July 16, 2024
hardest hikes in the us

13 Hardest hikes in the US

If you want to see America’s nature then hiking is the best way. We make a list of some of the hardest hikes in the US. These trails even put experienced hikers to the test.

The hiking trails in the US are known for their almost impossible routes that pass through natural plains, mountains, deserts, and coastal landscapes.

Always be prepared for anything. Moreover, if you never hiked a challenging hike, then try easy hikes before going to these hikes.

1. Muir Snowfield Trail

hardest hikes in the us

Location: Mount Rainier (Washington)
Length: 9 miles r/t (6-8 hours)
Best time: Mid-July – Early-September
Elevation gain: 4,680 feet (1,426 m)

This trail is challenging because of its cold weather. According to people, around 90 climbers slipped and fallen from this trial or have become frozen. Always hike with other expert hikers.

Mount Rainier is also an active volcano. The lush forests, lakes, scenic wildflowers, and stunning views delight hikers. This hike does not only challenge the hikers, but the unexpected storms also come.

An important thing you should remember is that when you are hiking on this trail, you have taken all the precautions. Always track your route with a GPS or compass. And carry a device from where you can check the weather.

2. Half Dome – Mist Trail

hardest hikes in the world

Location: Yosemite National Park (California)
Length: 14.2 miles round trip via Mist Trail (10 – 14 hours)
Best time: late May or early June
Elevation gain: 4,800 feet (1,600 meters)

This giant granite peak is well-known in the world. This trail pushes you to your limits. You will hike through waterfalls, and beautiful pine forests, and at last, you reach steel cables that will take you to the top of the dome.

To reach the summit, it is impossible for hikers without cables. Even with assistance, there still have been unfortunate causalities on this adventure. Some people feel altitude sickness, dehydration, and many other problems.

People fall mostly when the rocks are wet. So, do not hike during the rainy season. Anyone who dares to attempt he/she should wear leather gloves, good hiking shoes, and have a great fitness level.

Read more: 10 wonderful waterfall hikes near Denver

Read more: 10 hardest hikes in the world

3. The Maze 

the maze hardest hike in us

Location: Canyonlands National Park (Utah)
Length: 13.5 miles
Best time: Spring and Fall

It is a death trap not for faint-hearted people. It also tests the experienced hiker mentally and physically. There is no supply of water, and the temperature reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime.

This place looks the same and makes it difficult for hikers to locate a landmark. Always carry water, a map, and GPS with you so that you can find your place.

4. Kalalau Trail

kalalau trail hardest hike

Location: Kauai (Hawaii)
Length: 22 miles round trip (7-8+ Hours One Way)
Best time: May through September
Elevation gain: 800 feet

Adventure lovers know that Hawaii offers even more than beaches. The Kalalau trail is one of the toughest and most beautiful hikes. It delivers magnificent views at every step.

You will see waterfalls, valleys, volcano cliffs, and remote beaches along the way. Use walking poles to keep your balance because a single mistake takes you down to 90 meters.

Experienced hikers can do it in one day, but most of the hikers stay at two pre-approved campsites.

5. Devil’s Path

hardest hikes in the us

Location: Catskill Mountains of New York
Length: 24.2 miles (1-3 days)
Best time: May to October
Elevation gain: 9,000 feet (2,700 m) gain approximately

It is the US’s most underrated hiking trail, with breathtaking views. It is just a two-hour drive away from Manhatten. This trail is too long tackling it once is deadly for you. Most people do it in two to three days.

The conditions at the time of hiking at night can change due to the path because it becomes wet and icy. If you plan to spend a night, there keep your meals away somewhere safe because black bears are in that area.

Take proper precautions during this wild hike because the trail includes slippery rocks and vertical climbs.

6. Bright Angel Trail

bright angel trail

Location: Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Length: 15.6 miles, round-trip (2–3 Days)
Best time: March-May, September-November
Elevation gain: 4460 ft (1360 m)

Every year approximately 250 hikers are rescued due to exhaustion and dehydration. Because at day time temperature reaches the 113-degree Fahrenheit mark.

The stunning views of this trail make the hikers’ adventure rewarding. There is fresh drinking water along the path, but you should carry water and some snacks in a backpack.

At Phantom Ranch, hikers stop for comfortable accommodation at night, but you can also stay at campsites along the route. The Preventive Search and Rescue (PSAR) team was created by the park to assist hikers in need.

7. Paintbrush Canyon/Cascade Canyon Loop

paintbrush canyon

Location: Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
Length: 19.7 Miles round trip (8-12 hours)
Best time: May until September
Elevation gain: 3,817 ft (1,163 m)

The hikers must be, prepared for the different weather conditions. It has incredible mountain peaks and scenic views. Hikers face snow and ice at a higher elevation of the trail.

It is a loop so, you never go through again in any part of the trail. After every few miles, you see a change in views and terrain. It is a very challenging hike, even for experienced hikers.

8. Ruckel Ridge Loop

ruckel ridge loop hardest hike

Location: Columbia River Gorge (Oregon)
Length: 9 miles round trip
Best time: May-October
Elevation gain: 3700 feet

This trail is, recognized as the most challenging hike in the Gorge. The path is rocky, and slippery due to the moss, and it is not maintained. The moss is, creating problems in the route. So, the hiker should be, prepared physically and mentally.

The hiker should wear good boots for traction and know route-finding skills. The route presents a series of obstacles, but you’ll find it more fun than strenuous.

9.Slickrock Creek Trail 

hardest hikes in the us

Location: Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness, Nantahala National Forest (North Carolina)
Length: 13.2 Miles
Elevation gain: 1,322 m

This creek trail also made his name in Backpacker Magzine in the article for toughest hikes in America. On this trail, you’ll find a combination of rugged wilderness and remote beauty.

This creek trail is an unforgettable wilderness experience for you. There are 12 major crossings on the route. Some of the crossings are very tricky and don’t try to cross when the level of water is high.

It is a good choice for those hikers who love landscapes, as it takes you through forests and you will see amazing wildlife.

10. Presidential Traverse

hardest hikes in the us

Location: White Mountain National Forest (New Hampshire)
Length: 21.7 miles (1 day but with overnight options)
Best time: May until September
Elevation gain: 2,503 m

The hiking route on this trail is from north to south. In this, way the elevation gains over the early one. This hike is above the treeline so, good map skills are a must.

The weather on Presidential Traverse made it brutal. Insanely gorgeous views, unreal ridge hiking, and some seriously technical scrambles.

11. Barr Trail

challenging hikes in the us
Photo by Mikey Lemoi/ Flickr
  • Location: Pike National Forest (Colorado)
  • Length: 12+ miles to the summit (6-10 hours)
  • Best time: May through October
  • Elevation Gain: 7500 ft

This trail seems like one of the shorter journeys on our list. It is considered dog-friendly, and there are even camping options for those who want to split the hike into that being said Barr Trail still will have you climb 7500 feet in altitude throughout the hike, as such it’s considered to be among the Pikes Peak region’s most challenging hikes.

As a general rule only, advanced and expert hikers should attempt the excursion that earns Barr Trail a spot on our list. However, the lightning in Pikes Peak is something of a local lightning rod adding a very real sense of danger to the experience.

12. Timberline Trail

  • Location: Mount Hood National Forest (Oregon)
  • Length: 39 miles loop (4 days – 3 nights)
  • Best time: Open Year-round
  • Elevation Gain: 9850 ft.

Do you think you have what it takes to conquer the famous Mount Hood well it’s worth triple-checking before setting out on this trail because it is not for the faint of heart or the inexperienced circling the base of the iconic mountain in Oregon. This trail consists of seemingly endless ups and downs that are quick to sap your strength throughout the hike.

The weather is so temperamental many a hike has gotten off to a great start only to be undone by heavy rain or even a freak snowstorm. The sights and scenery are worth the challenge but only for hikers who can confidently brave ice-cold river crossings and everything else the timberline trail has to throw at them.

13. Great Range Traverse

  • Location: Adirondack Mountain Reserve (New York)
  • Length: 19.5 miles (2-3 days)
  • Best time: March through December
  • Elevation Gain: 7770 ft.

The Adirondacks is a great place to go hiking regardless of skill level there is a wide range of trails to suit just about everyone from families and beginners to the most seasoned of hikers if you fit into the latter category however the ultimate test is the Grand Range Traverse living up to its name.

On this hardest hike in the US, you’ll be scaling a total of nine peaks. The final peak you’ll be scaling is Mount Marcy the tallest in New York after the seemingly endless ups and downs not to mention several unique terrain challenges. You’ll be going into it quite tired, but there’s no greater satisfaction than overcoming this boss battle.

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Hardest hikes in the US