Best National Forests to Hike

By Barry Solomon , last updated November 12, 2011

If you are an avid hiker and love to be surrounded by untouched natural splendor when you exercise your legs, then here are some of the best national forests in which to hike. Fortunately, the United States has a huge amount of protected national forests from which to choose.

Great Smokey Mountain National Park, which straddles Tennessee and North Carolina, offers 800 miles of stunningly beautiful trails. Elk, deer, and black bears will be your companions while you admire the spectacular mountain vistas. The favorite trail seems to be the 5.3 mile Alum Cave Trail which winds its way up to the top of a mountain, offering amazing views of all of the natural splendor.

If you favor the Pacific Islands, then Haleakala National Park in Hawaii allows you to hike along volcanic terrain, rain forests, and amongst endangered species of animal and plant life. The volcanic craters give the park an almost outer space feel and the Halemauu Trail dives down from the rim to the bottom of a crater to give you a view like no other on the planet.

If you want to make the ultimate hiking commitment, then the Appalachian Trail that spans 14 East Coast states is unique in that it goes on for 2,165 miles. You can undertake the whole thing if you are up for it, but keep in mind that only 12 percent of the hikers that try it actually succeed. It would take between five and seven months to negotiate the entire trail.

Back out West, Yosemite National Park in California is one of the oldest parks in the country and offers amazing hiking opportunities. The 17 mile Half Dome trail will afford the best experience. And the spectacular Glacier National Park in Montana with its 700 miles of trails overlooking glaciers offer a look into a unique ecosystem.

These are just a few of the magnificent national parks for hikers to enjoy and experience.

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