Whether you are the dare-devil eager for adventure, or the mother/ father searching for your next family trip, everyone enjoys a great walk through nature. This list of hikes will have something for everyone. So grab a water bottle and your favorite hiking shoes, and find the trail that’s perfect for you. Here are the top 10 best hikes in the United States:
10. Tallulah Gorge Hurricane Falls Trail – Tallulah Falls, Georgia (RT 2.25 miles)
Of all the trails in the United States, number 10 goes to the incredible and breath-taking Tallulah Gorge Hurricane Falls Trail. Not only will you tread above the astonishing 1,000 ft walls of this enormous gorge, you’ll also descend to the bottom and hike for two miles along the Tallulah River, cross a suspension bridge and find yourself face to face with the cascading Hurricane Falls. The trail is 2.25 miles in total and offers a short, fairly easy hike for family and friends.*1
9. The Great Sand Dunes – Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado (RT 2.5 miles)
Ever wanted to pretend you were lost, roaming the desert on an Arabian adventure? If you have the imagination, this hike may be perfect for you. The Great Sand Dunes feature rolling hills of sand that resemble the Arabian Desert. This national park rests at the bottom of the 13,000 ft Sangre de Cristo Mountains, full of conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes and tundra. When the family is done sand sledding, the Medano Creek flows from April to June and is a great wade pool for children and family to cool off. This hike is not recommended in the summertime, as the sand surface can reach up to 150 degree mid-day in the summer. The best time to hike is in the springtime. Be sure to bring plenty of water so the Arabian sun doesn't get to you! *2
8. Highline Trail – Glacier National Park, Montana (RT 11.9 miles)
The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park is famous for its incredible snow-capped, mountainous scenery along the Continental Divide. Wild mountain goats roam the ridges of the Garden Wall and exotic flowers cover the vast terrain surrounding the trail. This epic adventure begins at Logan Pass and ends at Granite Park Chalet. A quarter of a mile in you’ll reach the ledge, which hangs across the Garden Wall. This ledge is a narrow path, and at certain points is a mere 6 feet in width Thankfully, there is a built-in hand cable that wraps along the wall, plus this part of the trail is less than a quarter-mile so you don't have to walk this slender trail for long.*3
7. Hoh River Trail – Forks, Washington (RT 17.4 miles)
If you happen to be traveling through Forks, Washington, be sure to check this trail off your To-Do List. With temperate rainforests, subalpine meadows, and fir forests, this is sure to be one unforgettable hike. The entire forest eludes a mystical, almost enchanted, atmosphere, with its 100 year old cedars, spruce and fir trees and an old worn down bridge that crosses the Hoh River; you’ll feel as though you’ve actually stepped into a fairytale. This trail is approximately 17.4 miles to Glacier Meadows, then, if you wish to continue, about another mile to Blue Glacier Overlook. Although this hike is fairly easy, it’s also long, which means fresh water may not be readily available. Bring a water filter and at least a 1L water bottle that you can refill along the way.*4
6. The Narrows - Zion National Park, Utah (RT 16 miles)
Number 6 on this list is a personal favorite of mine. While the initial trail is a paved pathway, level and easy, the trudge through the cold waters of the Virgin River makes for an exciting adventure. This trail lies at the bottom of a narrow gorge in Zion National Park with walls that reach over 1,000 feet high. After about a mile walk from the Temple of Sinawava, you’ll enter into the river and wade upstream. Be sure to bring shoes and clothes that you don’t mind getting wet, hike in the spring or summer time when the water is warmer, and check for flash flood warnings.*5
5. South Kaibab Trail – Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (RT 7.1 miles)
The South Kaibab Trail is for those who don’t believe that standing over the Grand Canyon is enough of a worth-while experience; this hike is for those who need to descend to the bottom of the canyon to stare upward at the rugged red rock that ages back millions of years in time. If this sounds like you, then pack your sunscreen and plenty of water! This 7.1 mile trail is steep with almost no shade, and while going down might be fun and relaxing, going up can take twice as long and will give you a real workout. The best time to hike this trail is in the fall or spring, because the trail gets icy in the winter and the summer sun can quickly induce heat stroke. To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of water before beginning your descent and carry at least a 1 gallon water bottle with you while trekking down the dirt path.*6
4. Harding Icefield Trail – Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska (RT 8.2 miles)
Dying for a trip back in time to the Ice Ages? If you are, the Harding Icefield Trail is the right hike for you. This 8.2 mile hike leads you across a valley floor, through a forest, and ends with enchanting views of the historic ice burgs that once covered enormous parts of the Earth’s surface. With every mile hikers gain 1,000 feet of elevation. In total, the average hiker may take approximately 6-8 hours to complete this hike. It’s important to wear sun protection on this trail, as there is little to no shade, but also bring waterproof shoes and rain gear to protect yourself from the melting snow. The best part: If you really want to live like an Eskimo, camping is permitted, so feel free to spend a night on the land where Mammoths and Saber Tooth Tigers once roamed.*7
3. Half Dome – Yosemite National Park, California (RT 14-16 miles)
5,000 feet above Yosemite Valley and 8,000 feet above sea level stands the iconic and daunting Half Dome of Yosemite National Park. In total, this hike can take up to 12 hours, but that depends on how long it takes you to work out the courage to ascend to the top of the dome while holding onto mere cables to keep you steady. For this hike you may want to bring gloves and a flashlight. The gloves will help you grip the cables while climbing, and the flashlight will be just in case the hike takes you longer than expected and the sun begins to set while trailing back. The suggested minimum amount of water per person should be about 1 gallon, but I suggest bringing a water filter also just in case you need to fill up along the way.*8
2. Knife Edge Trail – Baxter State Park, Maine (RT 8-9 miles)
Number 2 on my list is for the dare devils who love to live life on the edge (literally). At the very top of Mount Katahdin rests a serrated “trail” of jagged rocks which at times are only a few feet wide. The actual Knife Edge Trail is a little over 1 mile long, but the entire hike is roughly 8-9 miles depending on which connecting trail you use to get to Baxter Peak; this can take up to 10 hours for the average hiker. Please note: It is very important to be in excellent physical condition when attempting this hike; since they started keeping record in 1926, 44 lives have been lost due to failed attempts at hiking this trail.*9
1. Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail – Kauai, Hawaii (RT 4.6 miles)
I will admit my number one choice is very biased. I’ve completed this hike several times and no trail can ever compare to the magic of this one. Not only does the 2 mile Kalalau Trail feature breath-taking views of the Napali Coast and tropical beaches like Kee Beach, but the Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail includes a winding path that will have you climbing over wet, muddy rocks, trodding through bamboo forests, breathing in the scents of freshly grown vegetation like guavas and ginger, and if you tough out an extra 2 miles all the way to the end, this trail will take you to the bottom of a 300ft cascading waterfall (hint: if you swim all the way across the plunge pool to the waterfall, there is a rock underwater that lets you stand right behind the waterfall. Check that off your bucket list!)*10
Now that you know the top 10 hikes in the U.S., pick one and go for it! Just be sure to stay hydrated! Check out our water bottles and find the one that's right for you!
1. Tallulah Gorge State Park: hiking the Hurricane Falls Loop Trail - Atlanta Trails | Tallulah Falls Trail
2. The Great Sand Dunes - National Park Service | Great Sand Dunes
3. The Highline Trail - Highline Trail | Highline Trail Ledge
4. Hoh River Trail - Olympic Wilderness - National Park Service | Hoh River Trail
5. The Narrows - National Park Service | The Narrows
6. Day Hike- South Kaibab Trail Grand Canyon National Park | South Kaibab Trail
7. Harding Icefield Trail - National Park Service | Harding Icefield Trail
8. Half Dome Day Hike - National Park Service | Half Dome Cables
9. Hike The Katahdin Knife Edge Trail In Baxter State Park, Maine - Northeast Hikes | Knife Edge
10. Hanakapiai Trail - Kauai | Kalalau Trail to Hanakapiai Falls
New Year - New You - New Goals
The New Years is around the corner. Luckily, it's not too late to set new health and fitness goals that you'll actually achieve. Whether you want to drop a few pounds, get fitter, or start a training plan, you still have plenty of time to make it happen. Discipline is the key.
This may come as a surprise, but about 80 percent of New Year's resolutions fail by February. Even though millions of people set goals for the upcoming year, only a few actually achieve them. Most times, their goals are too big, too broad, or they just have too many.
So how can you make sure you'll actually lose weight or stick to your workouts in the New Year? What's the key to success? Here are some tips to set SMART goals and get in your best shape ever:
Instead of telling yourself "I want to lose weight in the following year," say "I will lose X pounds by March 1." Decide exactly how many pounds you want to drop and then set a deadline.
Apply the same strategy to other goals, such as running a marathon or competing in a fitness contest. Be honest with yourself and don’t try to shoot for the moon too quickly. Unrealistic goals are a recipe for failure.
Make a Plan
This allows you to train anytime, anywhere. Do it at home, at the office, or in your hotel room. Go to the gym as soon as you free up your schedule.
Bodyweight exercises, for instance, are very intense, causing your muscles to work hard. They also raise your metabolism and heart rate, which aids in fat loss. The best part is that you can work out while watching TV or whenever you have some free time. With bodyweight training, you'll get leaner, stronger, and fitter.
Prep Your Meals Ahead
Just like exercise, good nutrition requires proper planning. Start before the holiday season kicks in. The average American gains about five pounds during this time of the year. Some sources say that it's actually 10 pounds. The weight you put on can take more than five months to go away. Thus, it's important to have a plan for fighting temptations.
The first step is to clean up your diet. Steer clear of sugar, refined oils, deli meats, white flour, and frozen meals. Whole and minimally processed foods should come first on your list.
Fill your fridge and cupboard with nuts, seeds, fish, lean meat, fresh fruit, and vegetables. Swap white flour for almond, coconut, or rye flour. Flax meal is a good choice too as it is low in carbs and loaded with healthy fats.
When reading food labels, look beyond calories. Check out the first ingredients listed on the label. If you see the words high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, glucose, dextrose, or palm oil, move on.
Look at the amount of protein, carbs, and fats in each food. If your goal is weight loss, choose low-carb, high-protein foods. Get your daily fats from salmon, tuna, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds, avocado, and olive oil.
Apply these strategies during the holiday season as well as in your everyday life. Plan your meals ahead of time and keep healthy snacks at hand. When dining out, order light dressings or ask for sauces on the side. Stick to basic combos, such as beef and veggies or fish with sweet potatoes and salad. Sure, you can indulge in your favorite treats as long as you don’t go overboard.
Your daily water intake can make or break your progress. The human body is more than 70 percent water. Every cell and organ needs this fluid to function at its peak. Water keeps your metabolism up, regulates your body's core temperature, and aids in nutrient absorption. Moreover, it supports physical performance and brain health.
Even the slightest dehydration can affect your gains in the gym. In the worst case scenario, you may experience electrolyte imbalances, arrhythmia, migraines, lightheadedness, or fainting.
A proper water intake can rev up your metabolism, so you'll burn more calories at rest. On top of that, you'll perform better in the gym and lose weight more easily. Water helps flush out toxins and metabolic waste, which reduces your risk of chronic diseases.
Beware that caffeine and alcohol may cause dehydration because of their diuretic properties. If you can't give up alcohol during the holiday season, drink one glass of water for every glass of booze. Start the day with lemon water or green tea. Rich in vitamin C, lemon water scavenges oxidative stress and slows down aging. Pectin, a fiber in lemons, improves digestion and suppresses hunger. Polyphenols support liver and kidney function, aid in enzyme production, and dissolve calcium stones.
What if you don't like plain water? In this case, drink a big glass of water infused with fresh fruits or add a few drop of apple cider vinegar. It will quench your thirst instantly! Or you can prepare large batches of unsweetened herbal tea, add stevia if desired, and refrigerate it for a few hours. This healthful concoction has zero calories and packs a bunch of antioxidants.
As you see, nutrition and exercise are equally important. Consider both aspects when setting your goals. Commit to making lasting changes and remember why you’ve started in the first place.
Imagine how great you’ll look and feel once you lose those pesky pounds and embrace a healthy diet. Your energy will go up, your sleep will improve, and your skin will look younger. Make these changes today! Don’t wait until it’s too late!
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