Top 10 NPS Sites for Hiking

Some of the best places to hike in the entire United States of America lie within our National Park Service (NPS) system.  We already ranked the best places to hike within the 63 National Parks, so in this Top 10 list we focus on the best of the rest.  We decided to leave off the 2,185-mile Appalachian National Scenic Trail that runs from Maine to Georgia (one of three long trails managed by the NPS).  Click here to see all of our Top 10 Lists.

10. Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (Kentucky-Tennessee-Virginia)

85 miles of trails lead to Tri-State Peak, Wilderness Road, Hensley Settlement, and Gap Cave

9. Mojave National Preserve (California)

Rings Loop Trail requires metal handholds to navigate a narrow canyon, plus climb Kelso Dunes

8. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area (Pennsylvania)

Short hikes lead to Raymondskill and Dingmans Falls, or summit Mt. Minsi on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail

7. Natural Bridges National Monument (Utah)

A nine-mile loop hike connects all three natural bridges, also accessible individually by shorter trails

6. Navajo National Monument (Arizona)

Canyon hiking (or backpacking) is required to access the Ancestral Puebloan ruins protected here

5. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve (Idaho)

There is no shade in this stark yet beautiful landscape, except inside the lava tubes

4. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve (Oregon)

After a cave tour continue on the Cliff Nature Trail and hike the Big Tree Trail up to the largest diameter Douglas-fir tree in Oregon

3. Colorado National Monument (Colorado)

Many colorful canyon hikes, plus the Serpents Trail once known as the “Crookedest Road in the World”

2. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area (Washington)

The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail is just one scenic option through here and adjoining North Cascades National Park

…and finally the #1 NPS site for hiking:

1. Chiricahua National Monument (Arizona)

We recommend an all-day loop hike through Echo Canyon to the Heart of Rocks Loop

Honorable Mentions

Devils Tower National Monument (Wyoming)

The volcanic plug looks different from every angle on the Joyner Ridge, Red Beds, and Tower Trails

Muir Woods National Monument (California)

Only six miles of trails through towering coast redwoods, but they connect with Mount Tamalpais State Park

Buffalo National River (Arkansas)

Not just for canoeing, trails access Hideout Hollow, Hawksbill Crag, and Hemmed-In-Hollow

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