With so many beautiful places to hike in North America, it's very difficult to narrow the list down to just three. Keeping in mind the broad diversity of the landscape in North America, this post focuses on one hike in the Desert Southwest, one in the Canadian Rockies and one in the Eastern United States.
1. Edith and Cory Pass Hike in Banff National Park -- Alberta
Banff National Park is a Canadian national park located in Alberta, Canada, in the Canadian Rockies. Having the same name as the Rockies in the Western United States might give hikers the mistaken impression that the two segments of this mountain range are roughly similar. Although the American Rockies and the Canadian Rockies share a name and a range, they are very different mountains. For starters, there's much more rainfall in the Canadian Rockies, so the range overall is a great deal greener. More significantly for hikers, though, the Canadian Rockies are also much more vertical. The American Rockies are technically higher than the Canadian Rockies on average, but the latter mountains are far more jagged and steep.
One of the most difficult but rewarding hikes in Banff National Park is the Edith and Cory Pass hike. Challenging even for experienced hikers, this path is not one to be taken lightly or attempted by amateurs. A favorite hike of locals, hikers should be prepared for dramatic changes in weather and steep climbing.
2. Rim Trail Hikes in the Grand Canyon -- Arizona
The Grand Canyon is named "grand" for a reason: It is breathtakingly spectacular, perhaps more than any other canyon or landscape feature in the entire Southwest. As for the Rim Trail, it's a relatively easy hike, making it a great choice for the whole family. It is also not too hilly; the average grade is around 4 percent. The best part about the Rim Trail, however, is that it has many overlooks offering excellent views of the canyon itself.
Especially during the hot, dry summer months, the National Park Service advises hikers that it's very important to bring plenty of water for this trek; there are no water points along the way.
3. The Jump-Off in the Smoky Mountains -- Tennessee
The Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee have long been a favorite spot for hikers. Gatlinburg, TN, in particular draws tourists, hikers and backpackers from all over the country. One of the moderately difficult trails around Gatlinburg is the Jump-Off trail, sometimes spelled Jumpoff. Climbing 1,275 feet for a total height of 6,225 feet, the Jump-Off provides panoramic views of the Smokies.
The Jump-Off hike is definitely a good deal harder than the Rim Trail of the Grand Canyon, but it's also easier than the Banff hike mentioned above. Hikers should come prepared for a rocky hike. Although most people think of the Smokies as green, gentle, undulating mountains, the Jump-Off trail goes through one of the more jagged, sheer sections of the mountains. Hikers will be rewarded, though, with some of the most dramatic mountain views in Tennessee.
Though hikers will never be able to agree on the three most beautiful hikes in all of North America, these three hikes are certainly excellent candidates.
What do you think is the most beautiful hike in North America? Let us know in the comments below.