So, you want to hike the hiking trails of North America? Fantastic! From the Canada National Parks in Banff Canada to the best places to go hiking in the US, me and my travel blogging buddies have got you covered. We have Guatemala and Mexico in here for good measure too! Regardless of what area you’re planning to go mountain hiking in North America, we’ve got the best hikes in Canada, the USA and beyond right here.
All the following best places to hike here have been tried and tested by the blogger writing about them! To make it easy for you, we’ve included the hike’s difficulty level, how long it takes, what you will experience whilst on your hiking trips, as well as some very important essential tips.
Must do hikes in Canada: Explore Banff!
Must do hikes in USA: Appalachian Trail
The one hike you don’t know about but should: Copper Canyon in Mexico
The hikes in Canada on this list are all 1-day hikes and great challenges for beginners and intermediates. They include some easy hikes in Banff!
If you want the hard stuff, scroll down further to the hiking trips in the USA and beyond. Some of these trails go up to 6 months!
Recommended by Greta Omoboni from Greta’s Travels
Why not spend your Canada holidays hiking Stawamus Chief? It’s a 700m high granite dome that towers over the nearby Howe Sound, on the road from Vancouver to Whistler in Canada. Depending on how long you have to complete this trek, you can decide whether to hike only one, two or all three peaks!
It’s an intermediate hike for your Canada trip and the view once you reach the summit is well worth the effort. It’s easy to see why it’s one of the best treks in the world!
Technically 90 minutes (but it took us 2-3 hours).
Since we were short on time, we only did the 4km round-trip to the summit of First Peak. It is advertised online as the one with the best views in the places to hike around here. The trail is very steep in certain parts so while they say fast parties can finish it in 90 minutes, allow yourself 2-3 hours to do it!
Stawamus Chief is divided into three distinct summits, all with epic views over the surrounding landscapes.
The hike is clearly marked but isn’t well beaten, with the trail often requiring you to climb over logs or rocks. For me that’s what made it fun since it’s more varied. In certain areas there are also chains and ladders to help you climb up.
Recommended by Pari from Traveling Pari
Banff hikes are the best way to rejuvenate your mind and give your body some exercise. I recommend trying the hike to Lake Agnes Tea House in Western Canada.
Moderately difficult. Even though the length of the hike is not long, the elevation gets to you and you may have to pause.
The 3.5 km hike up to the tea house takes around 2 hrs.
What makes this hike special is that it has a historical aspect to it. Lake Agnes Tea House is Canada’s oldest tea house. It was constructed by the renowned Canadian Pacific Railway as a pit stop for hikers. Now, it’s been turned into a tea house that serves refreshments to weary hikers.
On the way, you can see the Mirror Lake and a waterfall that is created by the overflow of Lake Agnes. If you continue hiking beyond the tea house, you can also see beautiful views of Lake Louise and the Mirror Lake from viewpoints known as the Big Beehive and the Little Beehive.
Make sure that you visit during the months of June to October (first week of October) on the Banff hiking trails. The tea house and the hiking trails are closed at other times due to dangerous conditions.
Make sure you wear good hiking boots for this Banff trail. Carry a light sweater with you as it gets cold as you climb higher. In the Fall, it may also be advisable to carry a raincoat or waterproof jacket with you. The weather near the lake changes suddenly so be prepared.
Check out Teacake’s packing list further down in this article.
Recommended by Serena from Serena’s Lenses
Are you looking for an alternative to Lake Agnes for your Banff national park hiking trip? One of the best hikes in Banff National Park in Canada is the Plain of Six Glaciers. Situated by the beautiful Lake Louise, the Plain of Six Glaciers is one of the two Lake Louise hikes that leads to a tea house at the summit.
The Plain of Six Glaciers is a moderately trafficked hiking trail that starts at the end of Lake Louise. The trail is only 3.4km one way from the end of Lake Louise (5.5km if you start at Lake Louise itself). The trail goes uphill gradually throughout the hike with some steep parts.
Around 4 hours (not including tea breaks!)
During the hike you can see Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau hotel from above and you are surrounded by glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Once you are face to face with the glaciers you will see a tea house. It’s an amazing place to rest and grab something to eat and drink. Note: The tea house only takes cash.
Since this hike is longer than the other tea house hike at Lake Agnes, it’s not as crowded. But the view makes this hike one of the best since not many people get to see Lake Louise from above. This is the best of Banff!
Get here as early as possible ! Lake Louise parking lot pretty much fills up by 9am in the summer and all the tour buses arrive around this time. The tea house has limited seating so getting here early will help you get a seat and avoid all the crowds.
Hiking shoes are not essential but highly recommended as the trail could have snow in early summer.
Recommended by James Ian at Travel Collecting
The Bright Angel Trail is the most popular trail that goes from the south rim to the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the States. Experiencing descending down into the canyon until the walls are towering thousands of feet above you is an incredible experience!
The hike is about 9.5 miles each way, and typically takes about 5-6 hours each way.
The descent into the canyon involves a series of switchbacks. There are rest stops between switchbacks 1.5 and 3 miles into the canyon, and then again at Indian Garden, half way (about 4.5 miles) down. This is as far as you can safely go unless you are descending all the way to the bottom and staying overnight. The canyon is all around you along the way and there are frequent opportunities to stop, rest and take photos!
You should not attempt to do this hike down and back in one day. This means that if you are planning to do the whole hike, you need to stay at the bottom of the canyon overnight, or at least at the Indian Garden campsite, half-way down.
At the bottom is the Angel Trail Campground and cabins and dorms at Phantom Ranch. These are extremely popular. In fact, so popular that Phantom Ranch has a lottery system to get a spot that you need to enter 15 months in advance!
An alternative is to do only part of the hike down and back up to the top in one day. This still gives the experience of being in the canyon. If you do this, Indian Garden is as far as you should go in one day, in order to safely make it back to the rim in one day.
Recommended by Yuki Maloney from Finding Yoki
Angels Landing, located in Zion National Park, is one of the scariest yet most exciting trails in the United States. This unforgettable adventure hike should be on everyone’s bucket lists. The reward of 360-degree views of Zion Canyon’s rock layer will take your breath away. Your legs will be burning and shaking from the hike and the excitement…but the view will be unforgettable!
Medium. Since you will be walking through a narrow and steep cliff, I don’t recommend this trail for those who have a severe fear of heights or don’t feel very balanced on their feet.
The trail will be about a 5 mile round trip, and the hike usually takes between 4 and 6 hours.
While walking the first 2 miles, you will be offered an outstanding view of a rich collection of canyons, a shining river, and tall green landscapes.
For the final 1/2 mile, the trail allows for unlimited views of Zion Canyon in both directions. Although this is where things get intimidating as the trail becomes narrow and steep, you will be rewarded with magnificent views.
The best season to hike Angels Landing is in spring and fall. Although summer is probably the most popular season for the park, it can get really hot and it is not ideal for hiking. I don’t recommend hiking Angels Landing in the winter. The trail in winter tends to be covered by ice, and it can be extremely dangerous.
The best time of day to see the view from the top is either early morning or late afternoon.
Explore Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon South Rim all in one.
Recommended by Megan Maxwell from Mountains with Megan
The Appalachian Trail is a national scenic trail in the United States. On the Appalachian Trail, you can hike through fourteen different states and several national parks and national forests! Whether you choose to spend a weekend on the Appalachian Trail or walk all 2000 miles, you are sure to have a unique and exciting experience.
The sky is the limit here. Go easy with one day on the trail or take several months to complete it all.
1 day – 6 months.
The Appalachian Trail goes on for more than 2000 miles and can take anywhere from four to six months to walk in its entirety. For those who don’t want to walk that far, shorter trips are common. You can spend anywhere from one day on the trail to several months.
Wildlife sightings are frequent, from squirrels and birds to snakes and black bears. There are endless mountain tops, valleys, lakes, and campsites. The Appalachian Trail is a popular hike in the United States, and you will most certainly meet other hikers along the way.
This is a wilderness hike, so it’s essential to have all equipment necessary for sleeping, cooking, and living outside.
There are towns every few days where you can go grocery shopping, do laundry, and spend the night in a motel.
There are designated campsites that have shelters, latrines, and fire rings. The trail is well marked, so navigational skills are not necessary. I do recommend having a data book or app that shows water sources, campsites, and towns however.
Recommended by Jerome Shaw from Travel Boldly
The trail head for this trek is located at one of the most photographed spots on earth! The route traces along Maroon Lake with the stunning twin “Bell” peaks looming at the end of the valley. The 14,000-foot mountains reflect in the mirror-like surface of the lake. Add in the golden aspen trees on a September day and almost anyone can take a postcard quality photo here.
The difficulty of this trek is high with all four passes rising about 12,300’/3,700m.
Most people take from 3 to 5 days to complete the loop.
The trail head is located approximately 10 miles/16 kilometers southwest of Aspen, Colorado. The trail is 28 miles/45 kilometers long with a starting elevation of 9,580’/2,920m and rises to a maximum elevation of 12,500’/3,810m on West Maroon and Buckskin Pass.
The Maroon Bells–Snowmass Wilderness was established in 1980 as a U.S. Wilderness Area encompassing 181,535-acres/734.65 km2 of the Gunnison and White River national forests. It’s located in the Elk Mountains of central Colorado. The views are unique with every pass giving you a spectacular range of views in the Elk Mountain Range.
The first 1000 meters of the trail run right along the water’s edge before following the creek up to a second lake. At Crater Lake you have a choice: take the West Maroon Trail or begin your climb over the steep Buckskin Pass route.
Choosing the clockwise route gives you a bit more time to get ready for your first steep climb and makes the steepest side of Buckskin Pass a downhill.
There is considerable trail use, especially in August and September.
Bring rain gear! Especially in June, July & August. Snow can be encountered in any month.
Bring bear-proof bags for food and drink Plenty of water with the ability to purify it.
Find everything you need in the packing list at the end of this article.
The USDA Forest Service website describes the route in detail and offers maps with camping sites noted.
Recommended by Masha Kleshcheva from Fingertip Travels
It’s hard to find a more star studded, glorious, and bad ass trail than the John Muir Trail in California. It spans 211 rugged, mountainous miles (340 km) from Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mt Whitney: the highest point in the contiguous USA. You trek through Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Parks, two national forests, and Devils Postpile National Monument.
With 47,000 ft (14,000 m) of elevation gain along the backbone of the High Sierra backcountry, the John Muir Trail can be quite an experience.
It will be the most glorious three weeks of your life.
Plenty of stunning alpine lakes are sprinkled along the way which are perfect for breathtaking camp spots. The John Muir Trail engulfs you in wilderness and spits you back out a changed woman!
In a nut shell, the John Muir Trail is an incredible adventure. It requires physical and mental preparation and the right gear, but the experience will stay with you for the rest of your life.
You need to start preparing for the John Muir Trail months in advance. Physically, you should be able to walk 15 miles a day on steep mountain trails, at considerable altitude with 30 lbs on your back.
You should have gear for backpacking that you’ve tested recently.
A bear canister is required to hold your food too.
Send a resupply of food to Muir Trail Ranch in advance to replenish your supplies halfway through.
The part that scares most people is going to the bathroom! In order to leave no trace, toilet paper cannot be left or even buried on the trail. Some people choose to carry out their toilet paper, but I recommend my high tech system of twigs, a small bathroom water bottle, and biodegradable soap! So fresh and so clean!
Recommended by Jennifer Melroy from National Park Obsessed
Encircling Mount Rainier, Wonderland Trail is a gem in the Pacific north western state of Washington, United States. Mount Rainier is a 14,411 ft volcano. She is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the United States! About 80,000 people live in an area at risk of pyroclastic flows. The mountain is the highlight of the park and she hides her volcanic history under meadows of wildflowers, glaciers, and epic vistas.
On average the trail takes 10-14 days to trek and has cumulative elevation gains of about 22,000 feet. Basically, hikers gain enough elevation to summit Mount Rainier TWICE!
Over 93 miles, the trek along Wonderland Trail will visit the very best of Mount Rainier National Park. The trail quickly takes hikers out of the overcrowded areas of the park and into the remote wilderness. The trail will drop into amazing river valleys such as Indian Bar and Box Canyon. It will climb to ridge lines that overlook glaciers such as the Ohanapecosh Glacier. The trail passes through meadows of wildflowers such as the Avalanche Lily. Hikers can cool off in remote alpine lakes.
There are twenty-one campsites along the trail. They are not created equally.
Spending the night at Indian Bar is necessary. This is one of the most picturesque campsites in North America. Other scenic campsites include Mystic Lake, Golden Lakes, and Devil’s Dream.
Recommended by Roshni from The Wanderlust Within
This double-whammy hike is an opportunity to get up close and personal with Guatemala’s fiercest volcano, Fuego, whilst spending the night camped out on its neighbour Acatenango!
2 days, with around 14 hours of hiking in total.
Following a 4.30am start, we drove an hour to the beginning of the trail (1,500m) and began the gruelling 7 hour hike up Acatenango Volcano (3,976m). The first hour and half was the toughest, but the surroundings made it worthwhile! The scenery evolved from long grass and pine forests to a barren volcanic landscape.
We set up camp, then hiked an hour down the steep slopes of Acatenango to explore Fuego. We found ourselves on the ‘knife ridge’, a small trail with 500m drops on either side leading to the fuming caldera ahead. This hike is not for the fainthearted. We could feel the ground rumbling beneath us, the heat on our skin, and the smell of sulphur lingering in the air.
After an hour on the ridge watching a firework display just meters in front of us, we headed back to camp for dinner. We were exhausted but an early night wasn’t in store for us. We stayed awake most of the night peering out of our tents, mesmerised by the raw power, sound, force and excitement of the explosive volcano in front of us.
Even though we hadn’t slept much, we decided to experience sunrise at the crater lake of Acatenango. It involved a steep 45 minute uphill trek from the campsite but the views were worth it. We could see the chain of volcanoes from Mexico to El Salvador from the peak. The hike back down to the beginning of the trail only took 4 hours and went by in a flash as we spent the entire time talking about the smoke and fire that had filled the nights sky.
Bring hiking poles, as parts of the trail are full of scree and volcanic sand!
Recommended by Kayla from Visit Copper Canyon
The Copper Canyon is a large system of 6 canyons that, together, are larger and in some places deeper than the Grand Canyon in the U.S. The canyons cut through the Sierra Madre mountain chain in north western Mexico, spanning across the states of Chihuahua and Sinaloa!
Easy to hard: it depends on what route you choose to take on.
1 hour-10 days.
There are so many trekking options to choose from that it’s best to do some research before arriving. Options range from 1-hr hikes to 10-day treks.
The Copper Canyon has such a unique and extreme landscape and draws far less attention than many other hiking destinations. It’s truly off-the-beaten-path, which is what makes it such an amazing experience.
For a fantastic single day trek, consider the route from Cerocahui to Urique. You’ll be descending from 1625m in Cerocahui to the little town of Urique situated at 550m, at the bottom of the deepest canyon. You can arrange this hike through the Hotel Jade in Cerocahui (at the Bahuichivo train stop).
For multi-day hikes, most can be customized and arranged through a tour agency before departing for Mexico. Shorter day treks can usually be arranged through your hotel in either Creel, Divisadero or Bahuichivo, or some of the small towns along the Chepe railway.
To reach the Copper Canyon, trekkers can fly into either Chihuahua, Chihuahua, or Los Mochis, Sinaloa. Both cities are the terminal stops of the Chepe railway, which traverses the Copper Canyon. Catching the train from either city will bring you into the heart of the Copper Canyon where a plethora of hikes await.
It’s highly advisable to do guided hikes as the trails in this region are made and used by the native Raràmuri people and are not well marked. It’s very difficult to get a GPS signal in the canyons and there are few maps of the area.
The region is also known to have drug cartel activity, but they don’t bother with tourists, and having a knowledgeable guide will help tourists steer clear of hazardous areas.
Find out more from Visit Copper Canyon here
Have we missed your favourite best hikes in Canada and beyond off the list? Can you recommend some cool places where you can trek Canada or the States like a boss?
We can’t wait to hear what great hikes you recommend in North America!