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Take in the gorgeous views: The top 5 most scenic hiking locations in America

Cape Royal on the North Rim provides a panorama up, down, and across the Grand Canyon.
Michael Quinn / National Park Service

America has some of the most scenic hiking locations in the whole world. From old favorites to new finds, many of us are constantly getting our hiking boots dusty. If you’re looking for a challenging yet scenic hike to get your loved ones hooked on the great outdoors, it’s your lucky day. KÜHL has just released an eye-opening study about the top 10 most scenic in the USA.

This study looked at 20 different hiking trails from each state and ranked them on a weighted scale based on four parameters:

  • Number of Google Searches
  • Number of Instagram Mentions
  • Number of reviews on AllTrails
  • Number of stars on AllTrails

This approach weighs all the different variables in an objective way, so we can really see what’s been popular lately.

Skyline Trail in Beavers Bend State Park

Beaver's Bend State Park
Layne S / Unsplash

Skyline Trail in Beavers Bend State Park, Oklahoma comes in first place with a score of 4.43. This gorgeous trail offers an hiking experience that’s ideal for experienced hikers. This 8.6-mile loop trail is recognized for its difficulty due to the length and steep terrain it covers. Along the hike, adventurers can enjoy diverse features such as lush forests, river views, and even a hidden waterfall with a swimming hole. This trail is especially notable for its beautiful views from higher elevations and is one of the best waterfall hikes in the state.

Be prepared for steep inclines and various water crossings, which can be hazardous, particularly after heavy rainfall. Hikers should also be ready to handle the elevation changes and rugged path conditions​. For those looking for a shorter or less demanding hike, Skyline Trail connects with the Cedar Bluff Trail, a 1-mile loop that offers an easier alternative​.

The Florida Trail in Little Big Econ State Forest

A boardwalk trail through the woods
Tyler Martoia / Unsplash

The second trail on this list is the Florida Trail in Little Big Econ State Forest, which scored a 4.17 in KÜHL’s study. It offers an immersive hiking experience near Oviedo, Florida. This part of the trail, known for its outstanding natural beauty, features a mix of lush forest canopies, river bluffs, and diverse wildlife, making it a popular spot for both local hikers and visitors.

The Little Big Econ section of the Florida Trail includes several loops and segments, with the main loop being 7.2 miles long, offering relatively easy terrain with minimal elevation gain. This makes it accessible for most hikers and ideal for day trips. The trail is multi-use, shared with cyclists and sometimes horses. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash.

Chickadee to Oak Trail Fontenelle Forest Nature Center

Fontenelle National Forest
Tim Umphreys / Unsplash

In third place with a score of 3.51 is the Chickadee to Oak Trail in Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, located in Bellevue, Nebraska, offers a diverse and engaging outdoor experience suitable for all ages. This part of the forest features a network of trails that pass through various ecosystems, including deciduous forests and oak savannas. The trail network at Fontenelle Forest, including the Chickadee to Oak Trail, provides visitors with the opportunity to explore a range of ecosystems. The trails are well-maintained and offer peaceful, natural scenery that is perfect for bird watching and wildlife spotting.

Fontenelle Forest Nature Center is open year-round, with admission fees applicable for adults ($15), seniors($13), and children($9), although members and children under age 2 can enter for free.

Green River to Heritage Trail in Mammoth Cave National Park

Inside the Mammoth Caves at Mammoth National Park in Kentucky.
Sameer D'Costa / Flickr

The Green River to Heritage Trail at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is a moderately challenging hiking loop. Stretching approximately 2.4 miles with an elevation gain of 374 feet, the trail offers scenic views along the river and through diverse forested areas. It’s popular for hiking and running, and is accessible from March through November.

You don’t need to cough up an entry fee with this one. The first half mile of the trail starts off with a raised wooden walkway that’s accessible by ramps at the start to the trail. After that, the remaining section is a stable cement loop with railings and plenty of benches along the way to sightsee. It’s also pet-friendly!

South Kaibab to Cedar Ridge in Grand Canyon National Park

A view of the grand canyon during the day
Quinn Nietfeld / Unsplash

The Grand Canyon has a ton of stellar trails to choose from, but based on KÜHL’s study, the stretch between South Kaibab to Cedar Ridge is the best. This 3-mile round trip hike is often recommended for its dramatic drops. While it’s a relatively manageable distance, it involves a steep descent and ascent, which can be challenging for some people. Some highlights of this stretch includes Ooh-Aah Point, which is offers panoramic views that definitely live up to its name. Then if you continue on, Cedar Ridge offers expansive 360-degree views of the Grand Canyon.

For those planning their next hiking adventure, remember to research your chosen location so you can prepare appropriately for each trail’s specific challenges. Don’t feed any wildlife and always leave no trace to preserve the beauty and integrity of these natural wonders.

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Sarah Joseph
Sarah is a lover of all things outdoors. With a bright sense of adventure and a heart for the mountains, she is always…
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