For me, Oregon ranks #1 as the top state to find some of the best hiking spots in the US, as well as some of the best areas for camping and doing water rafting.
Oregon is definitely one of the best places to enjoy a hiking trip, as you’re not far from the border with Washington State and cities such as Eugene, Hillsboro and Portland, which are within driving distance of places such as Mt Hood national forest and Tillarnook state forest.
Oregon truly has a zillion of hiking spots to choose from, which boast relatively easy hikes and stunning scenery such as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Silver Falls State Park near Salem; and Ecola State Park in Seaside (along the Oregon Coast).
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- Vista House in Crown Point state park which offers amazing panoramic views of the Columbia River Gorge.
- Wahkeena Falls whose falls can be seen cascading as you drive along the Columbia River highway.
- Multnomah Falls Bridge (pictured) which is the tallest waterfall in Oregon
Regarding hiking spots along the historic Columbia River, two of the best trails are Eagle Creek Trail and Catherine Creek Trail.
Eagle Creek Trail is an easy hike which boasts great views of the Gorge and a couple of beautiful waterfalls along the way (Tunnel Falls and Punch Bowl Falls). Besides this, Eagle Creek also has a campground and picnic area, which is a great stop over if you’re traveling with kids.
Catherine Creek Trail is a 3.5 mile looped trail that boasts stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge also, as well as fields of flowers during the spring season.
New Mexico is my second choice when it comes to finding the best hiking spots in the US. New Mexico boasts loads of wilderness, breathtaking scenery, stunning natural attractions and miles of hiking trails suitable for hikers of all skill levels.
There are many great hiking spots in New Mexico such as El Malpais National Monument, White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park. However, two of my favorite hiking spots are:
Santa Fe National Forest
Santa Fe national forest boasts natural pools, hot springs and interesting rock formations such as Teakettle Rock, which looks like an ancient long snout tea kettle.
You’ll definitely enjoy a hiking vacation or day hike in Santa Fe national forest, and the best thing is that you’re just minutes away from the city of Santa Fe.
Two of the easiest trails in Santa Fe national forest are Berry’s Road and Rio Chama Canyon Road, which offer lovely views of Rio Chama and the red cliffs.
If you’re an intermediate-type hiker, two of the most scenic and moderate hiking trails are Quemazon Trail and Hamilton Mesa Trail, which boast spectacular mountain views and old wagon ruts from the Homestead era. (pictured)
Carson National Forest
If you’re based in nearby Taos, Carson National Forest is an excellent choice, even more because it's one of the best places to see the fall foliage in the state!
The Carson Forest also boasts a nice variety of hiking trails to suit all skill levels, but the best thing about hiking here are sightseeing opportunities such as Pot Creek Cultural Site, which includes the ruins of four small adobe dwellings.
Regarding hiking trails, some of the best include:
- Forth of July Canyon and Yerba Canyon, which are two of the best hiking trails for experienced hikers in Carson Forest. These two trails are around 4 miles long and have an elevation from beginning to end between 8,000 and 12,000 feet, so you have to be in fairly good shape!
- Amole Canyon Trail 10 and Echo Canyon are two of the best hiking trails in Carson Forest for the novice/ intermediate hikers. Both trails are around half a mile long hike on an easy flat-level trail.
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