Seven Favorite States in the US for Hiking

by | Feb 5, 2021 | Location Reviews

The USA boasts some of the best outdoor spaces for hiking in the world. We share our Seven Favorite Hiking States in the US in this article!

Greetings from the dirt paths to all of you Happy Hikers! My name is Mike Rudd. I am an outdoor adventure writer, hiking/trail running junkie, and part of the HPH Community. I’m back with an article where I am going to share my Seven Favorite Hiking States in the USA. 

I have done at least one hike in all 50 of the US states. No matter where you live or explore there is definitely something for EVERYONE when it comes to hiking! But I do have some favorite hiking states for reasons that I will explain below. Hopefully this gives you new ideas and future places to explore on the hiking trails!



Why does the gold medal go to California?
Nine National Parks. 20.8 Millions Acres of National Forests.
The highest point in the Lower 48 of the United States that you can hike up to. (Mount Whitney.) The lowest point in North America that you can hike on. (Badwater Basin.) The World’s Largest Tree. (General Sherman.) I don’t know if I should keep going for you or not?!

Well I can a little bit! California has remote seaside bluffs to explore in Big Sur, city hiking in LA and San Diego that boasts better hikes than you will find in dozens of entire states within their city limits, desert terrain in the Mojave, towering mountain ranges in the Sierra Nevada’s, the most famous granite rocks in the world in El Capitan and Half Dome in Yosemite, boiling mud pots in Lassen Volcanic, over 1,700 miles of the PCT, and the tallest trees in the world in the Redwoods.


Washington State is an extremely underrated hiking state. Except to anyone who lives in the state of Washington. Everyone in Washington State owns a Subaru to be ready to drive down the worst forest service roads to trailheads. The campsites fill up year-round and far in advance. Finally is a state full of people who plan their work lives around their next hiking trips.

From the crystal blue lakes in the Northern Cascades to the rainforest of the Olympics to the mighty Mount Rainier to the rugged Mount Baker National Forest to beautiful parks by and in all the major cities and 500 miles on the PCT it’s easy to see why Washington is the Evergreen State! One month living here in the summer of 2020 has me yearning for a whole summer in Wash State (2021 perhaps?!) My wife refers to Wash State as the “Glory Land” and I have two friends who have voice imitations of what Mount Rainier would sound like should it be able to talk. Enough said.


Without growing up as a child that visited Colorado every summer and hiked my face off in Rocky Mountain National Park I’m not sure if I would be the hiking junkie that I am today. Nostalgia aside, it still boasts some of the best hiking terrains in the country. Towns like Durango and Boulder have outstanding “city hiking” options. While Rocky Mountain National Park has hundreds of miles of trails. The 58 “14’ers” (mountains at over 14,000 feet) is the most of ANY STATE in the US. From the Manitou Incline in Manitou Springs to the Sand Dunes in Alamosa Colorado has something for everyone. And the winter snowshoe options make hiking a year-round activity in this state!


The nod for the fourth slot goes to Arizona with the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff, Saguaro National Park, the Painted Desert of the Petrified Forest, and desert hiking options galore in their biggest city of Phoenix. No matter where you go to in this state it seems like there is an available trail to traverse. You might just need to do it VERY EARLY in the summer heat. Or wait until the temperatures cool down at night. AND be able to know what to do if you come upon a Rattlesnake (MOVE BACK!) or a sharp Cacti (don’t try to drink out of it!)
We lived outside of Sedona and the Clarkdale/Flagstaff/Sedona/Cottonwood quadrant will have your hiking covered for months on end! The one of a kind Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon and the highpoint of Arizona (Humphrey’s Peak) will reward you with extra credit if you summit for your hiking course from Happy People Hike and myself!


Surprise surprise we are on the East Coast finally! Maine has the 100 Miles of Wilderness on the Appalachian Trail, the conclusion of the AT in Baxter State Park with the low elevation but very imposing and strenuous Mt Katahdin, and Acadia National Park is where the most average photographer gets to look like a genius!

The elevation isn’t as high as some of the states out West. But the woods, lake trails, and smaller mountain trails of Maine will have any Pacific Northwest lover feeling like they are back at home on the Eastern seaboard!


A surprise ent? Don’t sleep on Idaho. From the Sawtooth Wilderness to several highly technical peaks to rugged volcanic terrain in Craters of the Moon to even having ONE PERCENT of Yellowstone National Park located in its state I love the hiking in Idaho. It’s got a lot of the positive features of the Pacific Northwest without all of the crowds. I have been to lakes there every bit as lovely as the most beautiful in Glacier National Park in Montana, waterfalls that rival the best you can find in California, and the van life scene that makes you feel like you are in Washington State. You can hike for miles without seeing many people. It’s affordable without the bouje hiking towns that have overtaken some other scenic places in states on the list.


This should be a Top Ten list because I am not sure where to go on this final slot! But the 7th slot belongs to one of these four. I would say the final slot will depend on what YOU WANT!
Craters and black volcanic rock and be at the beach for lunch? Hawaii please.

Sand dunes, backpacking, and crystal clear lakes instead? Pure Michigan awaits you!
Mountains, big blue skies, and carrying bear spray is your thing? Montana it is.
You liked those red rocks of Arizona? Well Utah is covered in them and has five National Parks and dozens of State Parks that will have you dreaming of red rocks for the rest of your life.

Honorable Mentions:

Alaska didn’t make the list because of the massive amount of brown bears around every corner, the wilderness there kinda makes me a little nervous .
Wyoming, New Mexico, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, and Tennessee, well you can’t get in the top ten but you get a little shout out here as well!

Every US state has some great hiking. I lived in Ohio most of my life and while it’s not California I found ways to escape into the woods whenever my heart desired. Life is what you make of it, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t find epic ways to immerse yourself into the outdoors via hiking in your neck of the woods, no matter where it is!

,All Trails, the tourism websites for each state, the National Park and Forest Service parks sites, and of course random hiking sites like ,Hashtag 59 (my website LOL!)

Do you have any questions on any recommendations in my seven favorite hiking states? 

May we get to hike more because after all, Happy People Hike! Read more of my articles on HPH HERE.

Mike R



Mike Rudd

Mike Rudd

Nomad, Dood Dad, Planet Lover. Hashtag59 & Happy People Hike Lead Intern. Freelance Writer and Content Creator. Health and Wellness Curator.

Learn More about this author

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This