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8 Mountain trails in the US you need to experience in your lifetime

Angel's Landing

Andrey Grinkevich | Unsplash

Chloe Langr - published on 09/19/17

Enjoy breathtaking vistas and beautiful vegetation on any of these hikes, found across the country.

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If you’re planning a vacation and are looking to get away from the world, consider skipping the beaches and heading to the mountains instead. There’s no better way to get rid of the workday stress than by strapping on some hiking boots and hitting the trail, especially in the fall.

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Amazing panoramic views, vibrant fields, and striking rock formations are just a few of the breathtaking scenes offered by America’s hiking trails. From hikes along the perilous edges of Utah mountains to trails winding throughout the roaring waterfalls of Arizona, these trails offer the perfect opportunity to unplug (except don’t forget to bring your camera!). Here are eight trails you don’t need a passport to explore.

Harding Icefield Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

There are beautiful hikes throughout Kenai Fjords National Park, but if you’re looking for one that lets you get up close and personal with Alaska’s amazing ice glaciers, hike the 8-mile Harding Icefield Trail. The hike starts in the valley floor, and winds through a variety of forests and meadows. The end of the trail gives hikers a breath taking view of the 700-sq-mile Harding Icefield, the source of 38 named glaciers in the Kenai Fjords National Park. The trail can prove a little strenuous, since every mile offers hikers more than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Not ready to tackle it on your own? Rangers at the park lead guided hikes through the Harding Icefield in the summer.

Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Angels Landing in Zion National Park is one of the world’s most famous trails. The first two miles of the 4-mile hike are along paved trails. Although the trail isn’t difficult, the biggest challenge is overcoming the steep switchbacks and perilous drop-offs in the second half of the hike. Rangers have provided chains, bolted into the side of the cliff, for steady handholds. If you love red rock and daring adventures, this hike is made for you. But if heights tie your stomach in knots, you may want to skip the last leg of the trail and just enjoy the gorgeous view from the Scout Lookout point.

Mooney Falls, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

More than likely, you’ve seen photos of gorgeous aquamarine waterfalls in Havasu Canyon in the western Grand Canyon. World renowned for its amazing waterfalls and breathtaking rock formations, Havasu Canyon is home to the Havasupai Indian Reservation. A short, 1-mile hike past Havasu Falls will lead you to the towering, 200-ft-tall Mooney Falls. It cascades down into gorgeous blue waters that are a surprisingly comfortable 70 degrees. If you hike past the pool at the base of the waterfall, you’ll discover Lower Mooney Falls, a small 20-ft waterfall that provides beautiful views of the canyon below. If you continue on, a 6-mile hike that involves wading through shallow creeks will lead you to the Colorado River.

Old Rag Mountain, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

The Old Rag Mountain Trail is one of the most dangerous hikes in Shenandoah National Park, as proven by the numerous search-and-rescue missions that are conducted on the mountain yearly. But it’s also the most popular trail in the Mid-Atlantic region. The first two miles of the trail offer a steep, 2-mile climb through forest paths. Upon emerging from the trees, you’ll crawl your way up immense granite boulders. Old Rag Summit offers an amazing view of the  200,000 acres that make up Shenandoah National Park. If you prefer to enjoy the stunning panoramic views without a large crowd, it may be best to hike the Old Rag Mountain Trail during the week, when fewer hikers traverse along the trails.

Beacon Heights, Linville, North Carolina

A short 1-mile hike along the Beacon Heights trail is one of the Blue Ridge Parkway‘s best kept secrets. Many visitors don’t know it even exists. The hike features beautiful flowers and is perfect for any level of hiking experience. The trail ends on a large, flat rock that offers great views of Grandfather Mountain and its foothills. Although the hike is amazing in the spring and summer thanks to vibrant, green foliage, you’re in for a real treat if you hike the path during the fall, when bright oranges, reds, and yellows of autumn surround you. As a bonus, you’ll also find tasty wild blackberries and blueberries growing along the trail for a quick, healthy snack as you ascend the climb!

Mist Trail, Yosemite National Park, California

The Mist Trail is one of the most memorable trails in Yosemite National Park — the park labels it as their “signature hike.” The trail winds alongside two waterfalls, Vernal Fall and Nevada Fall. Hikers are misted with moisture from the falls, cooling them as they hike past. If you decide to just hike to Vernal Fall, the first waterfall along the path, the trail is about three miles long. But if you’re feeling adventurous and continue to Nevada Fall, the round-trip hike will be seven miles long. Hiking in the spring or summer? Be careful, since the trails become more slippery.

Snowmass Wilderness, Maroon Bells Aspen, Colorado

Back in 1964, the United States Congress designated Maroon Bells Mountains as wilderness. Today, hikers can adventure along 181,976 acres full of beautiful views. The Maroon Bells Mountains stand at 14,000 feet elevation, offering challenging but rewarding day hikes. The amazing sunsets, wildflower fields, and gorgeous views of the White River National Forest provide plenty of opportunities for amazing photos. Each season offers a different combination of radiant colors, reflected and magnified in the clear waters of the alpine lakes.

Rubicon Trail, South Lake Tahoe, California

If you’re looking for the best way to experience the immense beauty of Lake Tahoe, take a hike along the Rubicon Trail in South Lake Tahoe, California. The 8-mile hike will lead you to the park’s most popular spots, including Emerald Bay. Along the trail, stop at the various vantage points to take in the beauty of the rocky formations and gorgeous, clear blue waters. If the waters are particularly inviting after a hot day of hiking, multiple trails allow you to adventure to the beaches. Because of temperamental weather conditions, you can only hike the Rubicon Trail March through September.

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