These are my top National Park hikes I’ve completed

There is no shortage of top national park hikes across America. I’ve been fortunate enough to have visited over half of “America’s Best Idea” – mostly on the West Coast – and have tackled phenomenal trails showcasing the best our nature has to offer.

This list—totally not a complete rundown—includes some of my favorites! I hope you enjoy the photos and glean some inspiration from them!

Grand Canyon (Bright Angel Trail)

looking down into the grand canyon
  • Length: 19 miles round trip (to the river and back)
  • Elevation Gain: 4,380 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

The Bright Angel Trail offers hikers a classic Grand Canyon experience, descending from the South Rim to the Colorado River. Along the way, trekkers are treated to breathtaking vistas, ancient rock formations, and the chance to spot wildlife such as mule deer and California condors. It’s a challenging hike that rewards with unparalleled views and a true sense of adventure.

Yosemite (Four-Mile Trail)

Yosemite Valley Hikes Glacier Point Four Mile Trail
  • Length: 9.6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 3,200 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

The Four-Mile Trail in Yosemite National Park climbs from the valley floor to Glacier Point, providing stunning views of Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, and Half Dome along the way. Despite its name, the trail is closer to five miles one-way, but the effort is well worth the panoramic views at the top.

Zion (Observation Point)

a Zion National park from observation point. Angels landing juts out from the wall on the lower right.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch/@alecoutside
  • Length: 8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Observation Point is one of Zion National Park’s premier viewpoints, sitting higher than the famous Angels Landing. After a recent landslide, you can no longer access this trail from inside the canyon. You have to drive to the eastern side of the park and hike a relatively moderate trail to the overlook offering dramatic cliff views and stunning panoramas of the park’s sandstone peaks. It’s a must-do for hikers seeking awe-inspiring vistas and a less crowded trail.

North Cascades (Sahale Glacier Camp)

a hiker traverses in the peaks of the north cascades
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
  • Length: 14 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 4,000 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

The trek to Sahale Glacier Camp in North Cascades National Park is a true alpine adventure. Hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of jagged peaks, pristine meadows, and the vibrant blue of glacial ice. The campsite near the glacier offers an unforgettable backcountry experience in one of America’s most rugged national parks.

Mt. Rainier (Burroughs Mountain)

A hiker hikes up towards a lookout near mount ranier.
  • Length: 7.4 miles round trip (to Burroughs Mountain Second)
  • Elevation Gain: 2,600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

The Burroughs Mountain Trail in Mount Rainier National Park offers some of the best close-up views of Mount Rainier’s summit and glaciers. The barren, rocky terrain feels otherworldly, and hikers often share the trail with mountain goats and marmots. It’s a unique and breathtaking hike in the shadow of an iconic peak.

Channel Islands (Potato Harbor)

a female hiker sits on the edge at potato harbor in california.
  • Length: 5 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 450 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Potato Harbor Trail on Santa Cruz Island offers stunning coastal scenery and the chance to spot marine life, such as dolphins and seals. The trail provides panoramic views of the island’s rugged coastline and the azure waters of the Pacific Ocean. It’s a perfect day hike for those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.

Arches (Double-O Arch)

Looking at Double O arch in Arches National Park.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
  • Length: 4.1 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

The hike to Double-O Arch in Arches National Park takes you through a surreal landscape of sandstone fins and arches. The trail passes the famous Landscape Arch and offers a thrilling scramble over slick rock, ending at the impressive Double-O Arch. The hike showcases the park’s unique geology and gorgeous views.

Grand Teton (Cascade Canyon)

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
  • Length: 9 miles round trip (to the fork in the canyon)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Cascade Canyon Trail in Grand Teton National Park is a scenic wonder with towering peaks, cascading waterfalls, and the serene waters of Jenny Lake. The hike can be extended further into the canyon for even more dramatic alpine scenery. It’s a favorite for those looking to immerse themselves in the beauty of the Tetons.

Glacier (Grinnell Glacier Trail)

a turquois lake with mountains behind it on the grinnell glacier trail in glacier national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
  • Length: 11 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Grinnell Glacier Trail in Glacier National Park takes hikers through lush meadows, along turquoise lakes, and up to the impressive Grinnell Glacier. The trail is rich in wildlife, with frequent sightings of bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and the occasional grizzly bear. The breathtaking views make it one of the park’s most popular hikes.

Olympic (Hall of Mosses)

a hiker strolls through the hoh rainforest in olympic national park
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch
  • Length: 0.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Hall of Mosses Trail in Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rain Forest is a short but magical hike. It winds through an ancient forest draped in lush mosses and ferns, offering a glimpse into one of the planet’s most enchanting ecosystems. This easy trail is perfect for all ages and provides a serene experience in the heart of a temperate rainforest.

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside