Why do people hike? Is it simply a holdover from our wanderings when we were hunting and gathering? After all, humans and prehumans didn’t exactly have mass transit. Walking was a necessity. If a tribe wanted to relocate to greener pastures, there was only one way to do it.
Even if part of our desire to walk the Earth is hardwired, there’s also the obvious – the beauty of Mother Nature. Vistas and waterfalls, giant redwoods and granite mountain faces aren’t typically visible from the interior of your car. And even when they are, it’s not the same as feeling the earth beneath your feet and standing on the edge of the cliff. There’s also a simplicity in putting everything you need to live on your back and walking into the woods to commune with your surroundings. With no distractions or modern conveniences, you can learn a lot about yourself on a hike. Henry David Thoreau went into the woods to live deliberately and you can, too. Here are 10 of the best hiking spots the United States has to offer.
1. Denali National Park
If you want to experience some of the best rugged and untamed country in the United States, you’ll have to leave the mainland and venture into Alaska and Denali National Park. Denali is not like most national parks. Hikers here aren’t typically cruising along on well-marked, cut trails. This is Alaska, after all, and as such, most of the hiking in Denali is trail-less.
This means true backcountry hiking and the myriad challenges that come with it. It also means you’ll be forging your own path, something not many hikers are able to do in most parks. You’ll encounter dangerous and uneven terrain, streams you may not be able to cross and brush so thick you may need to go around, even if it adds miles to your journey. Because of the rough nature of hiking in Denali, and the near certainty that you’ll encounter some dangerous wildlife, it’s not recommended for the weekend enthusiast or novice hiker.