Best North America Backpacking Trails
Scott Janz September 27, 2016 3

North America Top 10 Hikes

If you had to pick the best trail to go backpacking on, where would you pick? We pick the top 10 Backpacking experiences in North America. The criteria we to pick the top ten was simple. Views, the length of hike, and difficultly. First we looked at views. What would a backpacker experience in the Backcounty when hiking a specific trail? How long is the trail itself? We thought it best to stick with a trail that would take at least a weekend to complete. Of course, we looked at how difficult was the hike going to be. As an avid Backpacker, I tend to look for a more “strenuous” hike. So getting the blood pumping was the thought here.

Here is our TOP TEN LIST:

10: KAIBAB TRAIL – Grand Canyon, Arizona – South Rim to North Rim adventure, real risk of heat stroke! 3 days is ideal 20.6mi plus sidetrips. WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? This is the only trail in the Park, including Bright Angel, maintained consistently the hike crosses the only bridge spanning the Colorado River. Best time to hike is Spring, or Fall. Bring lots of water, and NEVER try backpacking this trail without the proper permits.

9: PARIA CANYON– Arizona/Utah, canyon walk in knee-deep water, some risk of flash floods, minimum 4 days, 3 nights, 37.5mi WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? High, colorful, sculpted red-rock walls, walking in knee deep water is fun, if you have good shoes, pictographs & historical artifacts. Better get your permit now because only 20 hikers are allowed in at any given time.

8: TETON CREST TRAIL-Wyoming. 3-5 days depending on route 31-40 mi depending on route WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? Grand views of the toothy Tetons, the most striking range in the Rockies, the challenge of several high passes, and good chance to see marmot, American Bison, Moose, Pronghorn, Wapiti (elk), or Mule Deer in the Park.

7: CHILKOOT TRAIL– Alaska. Just on the first day (Sheep to Happy) is long and exhausting! 5 days, 4 nights recommended, 33miles. WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? An astonishingly wide variety of terrain and scenery. Temperate rain forest to high alpine to boreal forest, and the hike is well managed with full-time maintenance

6: THE FLORIDA TRAIL Florida. Hit this Trail and a collection of loop and linear trails on public lands throughout Florida. 1,400 mile trail. WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE?  Trail heads are all close to main roads, climate is good, although hot. Well maintained trail. Be prepared to hike a long distance in water.

5: Mt. WHITNEY TRAIL California – 3 days, 2 nights is ideal due to altitude 22mi round trip with an elevation gain of 6100ft WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? No climbing gear needed surprisingly easy if you get good weather it’s a beautiful and impressive peak. Permits are hard to get however, so apply early and be prepared.

4: COLORADO TRAIL Colorado.  Thru hikers should allow at least 4 – 6 weeks between late June and early September to cover the entire 483 miles. WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? CT offers a wide range of elevations and levels of difficulty, accommodating a variety of skill levels and hiking preferences. Awesome Views. Colorado is a awesome state to live in, let along hike through.

3: THE LONG TRAIL Vermont.  With its 270-mile footpath, 175 miles of side trails, and nearly 70 primitive shelters, the Long Trail offers endless hiking opportunities for the day hiker, weekend overnighter, and extended backpacker. Do this in the Fall, and  you may find yourself moving to Vermont.

2: APPALACHIAN TRAIL Georgia – Maine. After completing this  hike in 2003, there is no way this can be off our top 10 list. This 13 state trek is about is as close to finding a new family than actually being adopted by one. The community of this trail is a magical experience.  WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? The Appalachian Trail offers a variety of hikes. Day hikes, Thru-Hikes, Section Hikes, it has a different hike for everyone. It  makes no difference whether you are a pro hiker or a beginner. This is America’s Trail.

1: PACIFIC CREST TRAIL  Zigzagging its way from Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon and Washington the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) boasts the greatest elevation changes of any of America’s National Scenic Trails, allowing it to pass through six out of seven of North America’s ecozones including high and low desert, old-growth forest and artic-alpine country. Indeed, the PCT is a trail of diversity and extremes. WHY WE LIKE THIS HIKE? From scorching desert valleys in Southern California to rain forests in the Pacific Northwest, the PCT offers hikers a unique, varied experience.

If you have favorite trails that you think should be on our list, let us know. OR, wanna write your own favorite list? Apply to become a Trail Blogger with us.