Landscape photo of Angels Landing in Zion National Park - the most popular hiking trail in the U.S.

The Most Popular Hikes in the U.S.

By Ivan Slovic on March 26, 2024
8 min read

From Alaska's frostbitten terrain to the Appalachian Trail's expansive intermountain vistas, the United States offers more than 193,500 miles of hiking trails stretching across national parks, state parks, and local reserves. With this many hiking opportunities that challenge adventurers of all experience levels, it seems impossible to determine the favorites among these seemingly endless trails for both hikers and photographers.

Luckily, there's data, so we've conducted an in-depth analysis to uncover America's most popular trails. How did we do it? In short, we examined 1,000 hiking trails, taking 20 from each U.S. state, and evaluated them based on four key metrics:

  • the number of reviews they've received on AllTrails,
  • their rating scores on AllTrails,
  • the frequency with which they appear in Google searches,
  • and their popularity on Instagram.

We’ll talk more in-depth about methodology and scoring system later in the text. Without further ado, serving as a definitive list of the most popular hiking trails in the United States, here are the...

Top 10 Most Popular Hiking Trails in the U.S.

After cross-referencing the numbers across the metrics mentioned above, we found which trails are the crème de la crème of the American hiking scene.

Let’s start with our number one:

Angels Landing Trail, Zion National Park

Starting Point: Angels Landing Trail.

Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park is a 5.4-mile round-trip hike known for its steep ascent, narrow ridgelines, and hypnotizing views of Zion Canyon.

Angels Landing in Zion National Park is one of the most popular US hiking trails
Angel's Landing Trail is not for the faint-hearted.
Photo by Fineas Anton.
John Muir Trail near Rae Lakes.
Photo by Gregory Veen.

Half Dome via the John Muir Trail, Yosemite National Park

Starting Point: John Muir Trailhead.

The Half Dome hike via the John Muir Trail in Yosemite National Park is an iconic 14- to 16-mile round-trip hike, renowned for its granite dome surrounded by pine trees in the subalpine meadows.

Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon Trail, Echo Canyon Recreation Area

Starting Point: Echo Canyon Trailhead.

Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon Trail, located in Echo Canyon Recreation Area in Phoenix, Arizona, is a 2.4-mile out-and-back trail that offers challenging terrain, drawing attention for its steep ascent and views of the surrounding city and desert landscape.

A view of Phoenix, Arizona on Camelback Mountain.
Photo by Scot Rumery.
Skyline Trail is one of the most Instagram-worthy trails in the US
Up-close look at Mount Rainier and the Nisqually Glacier.
Photo by daveynin.

Skyline Trail, Beavers Bend State Park

Starting Point: Skyline Trail.

The Skyline Trail in Beavers Bend State Park, Oklahoma, is a moderately challenging 6-mile loop that offers diverse terrains, panoramic views, and opportunities for wildlife observation.

Lands End Trail, Golden Gate National Recreation Area

Starting Point: Lands End Trail.

The Lands End Trail in Golden Gate National Recreation Area is a 3.4-mile loop trail located near San Francisco, California, known for its coastal views, cypress woodlands, and historical landmarks, including the ruins of the Sutro Baths.

Trail to Sutro Bath Ruins, Lands End Trail.
Photo by ray_explores.
Path to Devil's Bridge.
Photo by Chris Tillman.

Devil's Bridge Trail via Dry Creek Road, Coconino National Forest

Starting Point: Dry Creek Trailhead.

The Devil's Bridge Trail via Dry Creek Road in Coconino National Forest is a moderate 4.2-mile round-trip hike that culminates in a stunning natural sandstone arch, drawing attention for its geological significance and Arizona's red rock landscape.

Clark Creek Trail to Waterfall Trail, Clark Creek Natural Area

Starting Point: Clark Creek Natural Area.

The Clark Creek Trail to Waterfall Trail, located in the Clark Creek Natural Area in Mississippi, is a moderately challenging 4.3-mile loop renowned for its series of waterfalls, diverse plant life, and well-maintained pathways.

Clark Creek Trial is known for its waterfalls.
Photo by Miguel.
One of many breathtaking Waihe'e Ridge Trail views.
Photo by Kahunapule.

Waihe'e Ridge Trail, West Maui Forest Reserve

Starting Point: Waihe'e Ridge Trail.

The Waihe'e Ridge Trail in West Maui Forest offers a 5-mile round-trip hike featuring breathtaking views of waterfalls, the ocean, and the West Maui Mountains and is noted for its diverse range of flora and fauna.

Florida Trail: Lockwood to Barr, Little Big Econ State Forest

Starting Point: Flagler Trailhead.

The Florida Trail: Lockwood to Barr section in Little Big Econ State Forest offers a moderate 5.1-mile hike through diverse ecosystems, featuring river views and abundant local wildlife.

The rich biodiversity of the Florida Trail.
Photo by Katja Schulz.
Laurel Falls - a serene cascade, lush greenery and rocky terrain.
Photo by fPat Murray.

Laurel Falls Trail, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Starting Point: Laurel Falls Trailhead.

Laurel Falls Trail, located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, is a 2.6-mile round-trip hike featuring an 80-foot waterfall, and it is known for its accessibility and high foot traffic.

Taking photos of these breathtaking landscapes doesn't do them justice - it's given - however, they could motivate others to go out and explore. With that said, in addition to evaluating trails based on overall popularity and search frequency, we also analyzed data to figure out what are the…

Top 10 Most Scenic Trails

This ranking specifically targets those looking for a visually stunning landscape to feature in their next Instagram posts and stories. We analyzed the number of tagged posts, hashtag mentions, and user engagement rates on Instagram for each trail. 

This approach offers valuable info for hikers who seek natural beauty and wish to capture it in a way that maximizes social media engagement. So, open your Calendar app and pick a weekend to visit one (or more) of the following scenic hiking trails:

After scrolling through different Instagram hashtags and looking back at the hiking trails report, we noticed that some states come up more often than others. And that’s when we noticed we were missing a list of…

States With The Highest Number of Top-Rated Hikes

In the competitive landscape of hiking destinations (pun intended), these states emerged victors: 

California, Colorado, and Washington lead the pack, each boasting 20 trails that exceed the national average ranking. 

Hot on their heels are Utah, Arizona, and Hawaii each contributing 19 top-rated trails to the national tally. While not to be overlooked, Oregon rounds out this elite list with 16 trails surpassing the average benchmark. 

Tennessee, North Carolina, and New York each contribute 13 trails that outperform the national average. Whether it's the lush Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, the diverse terrains of North Carolina, or the iconic Adirondacks of New York, these states offer rich outdoor experiences. 

Virginia completes our list with 11 trails exceeding the average ranking, known mainly for the scenic beauty of the Appalachian Trail that traverses the state.

Your favorite hiking trail didn’t make it on the list? Don’t worry, our research did not end there because we also wanted to know what are…

The Most Popular Hiking Trail in Each State

Our goal was to make a list of the most popular hiking trails in each state so that hiking enthusiasts, from coast to coast, could make an informed decision when planning a weekend getaway or a holiday trip.

We gathered data from Instagram mentions, Google Searches, reviews, and rankings from AllTrails for 20 hiking trails from each state and then let our scoring system do the grunt work. Here are the results:

But how did we get all of these numbers? Glad you asked! We used this…


As mentioned in the opening paragraph, we began our research by building a list of 20 hiking trails from each state, looking for the ones with the highest number of stars and reviews on AllTrails. Then, we collected the reviews and rankings for each of these 1,000 hiking trails. 

Then, for each hiking trail, we gathered the number of Instagram mentions and the number of annual searches on Google Keyword Planner from the last 12 months. We looked at all the locations mentioned in the trail names and attributed the results to the trail; for example, Clark Creek Trail to Waterfall Trail contains data on both Clark Creek Trail and Waterfall Trail hikes. We also gathered the data of the variations of the word “trail” like “hike” or “hiking”, meaning that the final result of Google Search and Instagram Mentions represents the sum of all variables. 

Scoring System and Formula

We gave each of the four parameters a specific relevance weight score based on the data source. These values will come into play in the final result:

  • Number of Google Searches - 0.4
  • Number of Instagram Mentions - 0.3
  • Number of reviews on AllTrails - 0.2
  • Number of stars on AllTrails - 0.1

After compiling all the collected data, we used the linear scaling formula to get the normalized scores for each hiking trail for the four parameters.

NRx = (Rx - Rx Min) / (Rx Max - Rx Min)
NSx = (Sx - Sx Min) / (Sx Max - Sx Min)
NGSx = (GSx - GSx Min) / (GSx Max - GSx Min)
NIMx = (NIx - NIx Min) / (NIx Max - NIx Min)


  • x = Specific Hiking Trail
  • Min = The minimum value of the entire column
  • Max = The maximum value of the entire column
  • Rx = Number of Reviews
  • Sx = Number of Stars
  • GSx = Number of Google Searches
  • IMx = Number of Instagram Mentions
  • NRx = Normalized Number of Reviews
  • NSx = Normalized Number of Stars
  • NGSx = Normalized Number of Google Searches
  • NIMx = Normalized Number of Instagram Mentions

Final Results

We collected the data, we normalized the values of the four parameters, and it was time to finally get the final score for each of the 1,000 hiking trails. The formula we used looked like this:

((NRx * RW) + (NSx * SW) + (NGSx * GSW) + (NIMx * IMW))* 10


  • RW = Rating Weight
  • SW = Score Weight
  • GSW = Google Score Weight
  • IMW = Instagram Mention Weight

A quick math session later, the results were in. We sorted them by final score value and that was it! You can see the full list of trails and all the data gathered here.


With the research concluded, we finally know what are the most popular hiking trails in the U.S. Getting all of the data was not a walk in the park (pun intended), but we’re glad we did it. The data presented here serves as a compelling indicator for outdoor clothing companies: these are the markets where highly engaged hikers are not just frequenting but are also likely seeking the latest gear to enhance their outdoor experiences. Targeting these states could be a strategic move for any brand seeking traction among a discerning and passionate demographic.

Research done by Andreea Anton.
Written by Ivan Slovic.
Featured image by Carl Nenzen Loven.

Ivan Slovic
Ivan Slovic

Trying to escape the concrete confines as much as I can but I always end up traveling to different cities. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


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