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    The best hikes in the U.S.

    By Tyler Moss
    July 11, 2017, 5:39:24 PM EDT

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    With 59 national parks and north of 10,000 state parks, the U.S. has no shortage of fruited plains or majestic mountains to explore via its 193,500 miles of trail (and that’s on federal land alone, according to a 2015 report by the American Hiking Society).

    No wonder, then, that approximately 13 percent of all Americans engaged in the ever-accessible hobby in 2016. In addition to the obvious benefits—exercise, Vitamin D, an opportunity to un-ironically don a tank-top—a number of different studies, including this one published in 2015, found that time spent walking through nature both reduces stress and increases memory performance. But with so many paths to choose from, where does one begin? From the most scenic to the best hidden gem, consider these nine routes the perfect place to start.

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    Best Scenic Hike: Angel’s Landing Trail, Hurricane, Utah

    zion angels landing


    Utah’s Zion National Park could probably fill at least three spots on this list, but for the sake of diversity, let’s focus on its most illustrious trail: Angel’s Landing. Those fearsome enough to ascend this 4.4-mile journey—which includes a steep final half mile where chains have been installed along certain precarious stretches to help you maintain balance—will be greeted by bird's-eye views of the sandstone canyon below.

    Best Summertime Hike: Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte, Gatlinburg, Tennessee

    tennessee hike


    Last November, a fire in Great Smoky Mountains National Park set ablaze more than 17,000 acres of land, leading to the closure of the much-cherished Chimney Tops Trail. Thankfully, the 10.3-mile route from Alum Cave Trail to Mount LeConte offers equal joy to hikers—especially during the summer. Find refuge under the shadows of shaded forest, and wade through refreshing streams past patches of wild rhododendron, with plenty of photo-ops along the way.

    Best Coastal Hike: Kalalau Trail, Hanalei, Hawaii

    hawaii coast hike


    As you pass through the abundant vegetation along Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, the setting may seem familiar. (Hint: Think Jeff Goldblum and velociraptors.) That’s right, Jurassic Park documented the lush crags of Na Pali in 1993, and your hike will feel equally cinematic. Not for the faint of heart (or small children, for that matter), this 20-mile trek through beachfront jungle is challenging, but worth it for the spectacular views of the Pacific.

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