West of Hanalei on the west coast of Kauai, the infamous Kalalau Trail is an extreme, hardcore hiking trek along the NaPali Coast. Also called the NaPali Coast Trail, it is a rugged, rolling 11 mile route through wild tropical Hawaii past isolated beaches and waterfall-laced valleys out to the namesake Kalalau Beach.
Southwest of Aspen, the 29 mile Maroon Bells Loop is a challenging hiking trek mainly above 11,000 feet crossing four alpine passes above 12,000. This 4-5 day route is best traversed clockwise and starts from Maroon Lake.
Northwest of Flagstaff and far west of Grand Canyon Village, the 10 mile hike down to the spectacular Havasu Falls is a popular red rock journey. The turquoise Havasu Falls is the heart of this adventure, but it's only one of several waterfalls along the way.
Northeast of St George and Springdale in the Zion National Park, the Virgin River Narrows Trail is considered the best hiking in Utah and one of the top ten hikes in the USA. Overall, the Narrows Trail is a 16 mile hike, though 90% of hikers explore only the first 3-4 miles as an out-and-back from the lower end.
North of Moab, the 76,500 acre Arches National Park has numerous trails around the thousands of natural red sandstone arches. A majority of the trails off the main park roads are relatively short, but incredibly scenic.
Northeast of Ashton in the southwest quadrant of Yellowstone National Park, the Bechler River Trail and the Bechler Meadows trails are an unparalleled backcountry hike through Yellowstone. You can expect to see moose, black bear, pine marten and trumpeter swans.
Southwest of Queenstown and north of Te Anau in Fiordland National Park, the popular Milford Track is a 53.5km hut-to-hut trek through thick beech forest and remote mossy gorges. It passes numerous cascades, including the 600m Sutherland Falls, and ends at Milford Sound shadowed by 1,000m glacial carved cliffs.
Northwest of Picton, the Queen Charlotte Track is a 71km route along the ridges above Marlborough Sound. The track starts in Anikiwa and runs northwest to Shipscove (accessible by water-taxi only).
Northwest of Paro, the Tigers Nest is an exception 4 mile round trip hike climbs over 600m to elevations of 3,100m. The Paro Taktsang Monastery, better known as Tigers Nest, was built in 1692 around the Taktang Senge Samdup cave, where the Indian guru Padmasambahva brought Buddhism to the country of Bhutan in the 8th Century.
Northwest of Red Lodge in the Custer National Forest, the 28 mile East Rosebud Trail runs along the Beartooth Plateau past waterfalls, lakes and meadows full of huckleberries. Starting from 6,000 feet at the East Rosebud Trailhead, the route climbs 4,000 feet of vertical and ends at the Clarks Fork Trailhead. To reach the hiking trailhead from the intersection of US 212 and SR 78 in Red Lodge, go northwest on SR 78 for 20 miles to Roscoe.
Northeast of San Jose and southwest of Santa Clara, the 48,000 hectacre Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo is a large block of untouched, rugged wilderness. The Quebrada Gonzalez Ranger Station is the trailhead for the most popular trails in the national park.
Southeast of San Jose and south of Limon, the Cahuita National Park has a 6km trail parallel to the coastline through jungle and on the white sand beach. A footbridge leads into the park from the Kelly Creek Ranger Station (run by a local committee) at the southern end of Cahuita village.
Located 54 km northeast of San Jose, the Parque Nacional Volcán Irazú area has several short nature trails around the craters that are worth exploring. In the past, there used to be an extensive trail system that may still appear in older guidebooks.
North of Puntarenas near Santa Elana, the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve is one of the best known protected areas in the tropics, and also most crowded. The Quakers of Alabama originally owned this 11,000 hectacre forest which is inhabitated by 100 species of mammals, 400 species of birds and 120 species of reptiles.
Printable Appalachian Trail maps and AT thru-hiking segment guides.
Printable Pacific Crest Trail maps and PCT thru-hiking segment guides.