Best Day Hikes in North America
These best day hikes are an absolute must-do whether you’re visiting North America or you’ve lived here your whole life. We’ve gathered together the most awe-inspiring day hikes, from East to West Coast and from beginner to expert-level hiking.
The best part? They’re only day hikes, so they’re accessible to everyone no matter what camping equipment you have!
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1. DEVIL’S GARDEN LOOP TRAIL
Double O Arch by Park Folio
Arches National Park, Moab, Utah
7.8 miles (loop)
Devil’s Garden Loop is the epitome of a desert hike, complete with seven stunning sandstone archways. The highlight of this hike being the Landscape Arch, which is the longest arch in the world. This is a high-traffic trail and the path is fairly beaten down. There are a variety of trails to choose from, from flatter day hikes to multi-day hikes with more elevation gain.
2. GARIBALDI LAKE TRAIL
View from Panorama Ridge by Cam Lee Yoga
Garibaldi Provincial Park, British Columbia
11.2 miles (out-and-back)
Best time to go is between July and October
Garibaldi Lake is the first part of a hike that takes you into these stunning, glacial lakes (pictured above). You can choose to simply walk into the lake – a very reasonable day hike at only 11.2 miles – or you can continue on to this stunning lookout point (Panama Ridge Trail), which ads an extra 7 miles to your day. There is a very significant elevation gain in the beginning of the hike, but if this image is any clue, the payoff is definitely worth it. This is one of the bests day hikes in Canada.
3. THE NARROWS
The Narrows by Utah.com
Zion National Park, Utah
4 miles (out-and-back)
Best time to go is between April and October
For a day hike, The Narrows is approximately 4 miles round-trip into Orderville Canyon – you can continue further up until 16 miles, but this requires a permit. There are no real trails for the majority of this hike as it entails wading between sandbanks in thigh-deep water. Because of the nature of this hike, it’s very dependent on good weather to avoid any flash floods through the canyons.
4. FRANCONIA RIDGE LOOP
Franconia Ridge by Odyssey
White Mountains, New Hampshire
9 miles (loop)
Best time to go is between September and November
Franconia Ridge gives you the opportunity to traverse along the alpine ridge for 1.7 miles. This hike features a huge elevation gain and some more technical straggles, but the view is definitely worth the effort.
5. CONRAD KAIN HUT
Conrad Kain Hut by Meetup
Bugaboo Provincial Park, British Columbia
6 miles (out-and-back)
Best time to go is between May and September
The trail into Conrad Kain Hut has significant elevation gain in the first 3 miles of the hike – bringing you straight into the alpine. Although there is a hut at the end of this hike, it can easily be completed as a day hike.
6. KALALAU TRAIL
Kalalau Trail by Unreal Hawaii
12 miles (out-and-back)
The Kalalau Trail takes you 11 miles along the coast of the island of Kauai, Hawaii. As a day hike, you can do the first 6 miles without a permit. This is one of the best ways to view the island’s rugged coastline as the trail occasionally drops to beach level before climbing back up again.
7. PTARMIGAN TUNNEL TRAIL
Belly River Drainage (as seen from Ptarmigan Tunnel) by DH Brown Photography
Glacier National Park, Montana
10.7 miles (out-and-back)
Best time to go is between July and October
Ptarmigan Tunnel has got it all – views of two glacier valleys from above, a glacial lake, and the historical Ptarmigan Tunnel that was built in 1930 for hikers to bypass a more strenuous climb. This area is prime bear habitat, so it’s important to make lots of noise while hiking and to carry bear spray with you.
8. UPPER YOSEMITE FALLS TRAIL
Upper Yosemite Falls by Yosemite.com
Yosemite National Park, California
7.2 miles (out-and-back)
Although this area is open year-round, the best time of year to visit Upper Yosemite Falls is in the spring when the waterfall is roaring. By late summer, the waterfalls have dwindled down to a trickle. This is a very popular hike that is fairly strenuous with a significant elevation gain as you reach the top of the falls.
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