The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite — those are in the Hall of Fame. For our list, we’re thinking further afield, less crowded and nearer to a luxury hotel. These are the insider spots to get outdoors, smell the wild flowers and reach that summit. This is your list for the best hikes in the U.S.
The Slot Canyons, Page, Arizona
These slot canyons are formed by water rushing through rock. The result are stunning formations of surreal purple and rose-colored canyons. The slots are some of the most photographed natural wonders in the US, for good reason. The most popular is Antelope Canyon, made up of the Lower Antelope and Upper Antelope Canyons. The former has more ladders and climbs, and the latter is known as the most iconic in the area.
Also not to be missed is the Zebra Canyon, named for its pink stripes. It’s a 5-mile trek and a more challenging excursion. The place to stay, of course, is Amangiri, which sets you up with the best guides and most luxe way to experience the canyons.
Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado
This 11-mile hike to Aspen from Crested Butte — the wild flower capital of the world — is as pretty as the flowers along the way. This is a full-day excursion and can take anywhere from 6 to 10 hours, so make sure you are plenty prepared. Our suggestion is to start in Crested Butte and check in for the evening at Scarp Ridge Lodge. The building is a former house of ill-repute (or “dance hall” as they were called). Today, it’s now part of luxury portfolio Eleven Experience. Check out the town in the evening, then wake up with the hearty chef’s breakfast and set out for the day. Know that, at the end of the road in Aspen, The Little Nell awaits with the best restaurants in our Aspen guide. And Aspen is always a good idea.
Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
If the name reminds you of a childish joke about a woman’s anatomy, well, you’re right. The French sure do have a sense of humor, which is how the “Grand Tetons” came to be so named. And yes, they are spectacularly big, and just seeing them from a distance is quite the experience. Within the park, there are just silly pretty places to stop your Airstream to take in photos.
For those who want to hike for the first time in the park, Jenny Lake is the entry-level hike. You can either do the 3 miles or so to the starting point of Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point (another 2+ miles or so up from there). Alternative you can take the boat across the lake, hike up the 2+ miles and then hike back. Either way, plan to spend a day hiking, boating and driving through this stunning area. At the end of taking one of the best hikes in the U.S., head back to the Amangani, which is set into the mountainside. The view from the pool is perhaps the best view of the Grand Tetons.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
For those looking for a long plane ride without a passport, hello Hawaii. We could say the entire state of Hawaii is one of the best hikes in the US. Though if we have to pick, the Kalalau Hike is a favorite, albeit a challenging one. Part of it is location, as it’s along the 11-mile Nāpali Coast. Lush vegetation? Check. Stunning views? Check. Waterfalls? Of course, that’s why it’s on the list. This is located on Kauai, one of the less-visited islands. We suggest dropping anchor though at the most luxurious resort on isle, the St. Regis.
Escondido Falls, Malibu, California
Wonder why Californians are so fit? It very well could be the hiking, along with that ocean air. So why not combine both, in Malibu? Your reward for a 4-mile hike in Escondido Canyon Park is a Escondido Falls. The falls are three tiers high and star of many an Instagram-worthy photo. It’s one of the highest waterfalls in the Santa Monica Mountains. As an added bonus, you pick up the trail along the Pacific Coast Highway, another of the Golden State’s most picturesque. With the opening of the new Nobu Ryokan in Malibu, everyone wins.