Are These Really the Best Hikes in Every State?

Outside Magazine Online recently released a list of the Best Hikes in each State.

We were made aware of it through Besthike.com as many people were…they were in turn clued on by the Adventure Blog, which we also follow.

https://www.outsideonline.com/2393036/50-best-hikes-us

We have bashed Outside Magazine in the past, and this is exactly the type of thing — a try to be everything to everyone ‘Best Of’ list — that often gets them on the wrong side of us. But truth be told,  they managed to get it pretty close to right this time. This actually is a pretty solid list of great hiking destinations so far as we can see.

Now, it goes without saying that some states simply have more and better hiking destinations than others. There are probably 286,000 hikes in Colorado that are superior to the best hike in Rhode Island. But nonetheless it’s safe to say that every state, even Flat-rida, has SOME good hiking. To ask what the best trail in each state is, that’s a worthy thing to write about – assuming you actually come up with something like an intelligent answer.

And it looks as if in this case, anyway, Outside has done it. This does appear to be an informed and intelligent list, at least to Brian’s discerning eye…he’s never done a lot of these hikes and probably never will do many of them (hiking in Delaware, anyone?) But most of those he’s familiar with do check out.

In his native New England for example, he would have picked the Presidential Traverse as the best hike in New Hampshire, and Outside’s selection (the Crawford Path) is a part of that. He would have picked the Knife’s Edge Trail over the 100 Miles Wilderness for Maine, and the Long Trail/AT trail concurrent section as the best hike in Vermont over the Camel’s Hump…but neither of those are by any means poor selections.

The nomination of Bish Bash Falls in Massachusetts is an interesting choice. Brian lived in the Bay State 35 years and never visited this place — it’s quite far from Boston, at the other end of the state. But I’d heard of it; my father used to mention this place all the time, I think he just liked to say, “Bish Bash.” I would have said Mt. Greylock is the best hike in MA but…hey, I have an open mind.

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Bish. Bash. By Tom Walsh – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16599146

In our native NC, Brian would have voted for the Art Loeb Trail over the Outside nominee (The AT section from Carvers Gap to Route 19E) but…that’s inarguably one of the best sections of the AT. We would have picked Mount Cammerer over the more popular Alum Cave Trail/Mt. Leconte for Tennessee, but again we’re talking two really great hikes here.

The featured photo of this page by the way shows Charlie’s Bunion…sometimes listed as the best hike in TN. It’s great, but not the best hike in the volunteer state, so Outside avoided that pitfall.

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Views like this inspire us to nominate the Art Loeb Trail as the best in North Carolina…but then the Roan Mountains are up there.

He can’t understand why the Three Ridges Hike beat out Old Rag in Virginia — but then they nailed South Carolina and Maryland, albeit both obvious choices.

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We would have listed Old Rag as the best hike in Virginia. But another curious omission is the Grayson Highlands section of the AT.
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Annapolis Rocks is generally considered Maryland’s best hike by about everybody — Go Navy! By Patorjk – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44811867

Many times they included an obvious “conventional opinion” choice but that’s fine by us. The first test that any method of analysis must pass is that it can detect the obvious. The John Muir trail, Grand Canyon Rim to Rim, Whitaker Point, the Kalalau Trail, Cirque of the Towers and Spruce Knob are obviously great hikes and widely considered to be the best in their state for very good reasons. At least three of those are present or past items on our Bucket List.

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No hiker could argue with John Muir or his trail.

There are some interesting/inspired choices here as well. The inclusion of Yellow Aster Butte for example in the state of Washington…over such celebrated walks as the Wonderland Trail and the Enchantments. But could simply be an inspired choice…the hike LOOKS great and sometimes the best views are not from the celebrated peaks but of them.

(The definitive authority on Evergreen State hiking is The Washington Trail Association…their excellent website rates Yellow Aster Butte 4.5 stars out of 5. It’s not the highest rating on their site but…I’m inclined to say that this is in fact a worthy hike included because it is a true contender for best in state and not out of ineptitude.)

From a distance the oddest choice here would seem to be the selection of the Trail of Ten Falls as the best hike in Oregon. Take nothing away from this trail, I’m sure its great…but last time I checked, Mount Hood and the Three Sisters Loop were located here. Did that change or something?  I’d sure like to hear from some Oregonian Hikers about that one.

But all in all, most of these appear to be disagreements among friends. From our vantage point, Outside Online has in fact come up with a fine list of hikes, one per each state. We encourage you to check the article out…What do you think is the best hike in each state?

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2 thoughts on “Are These Really the Best Hikes in Every State?

  1. As a local, I too wondered about why the Trail of the Ten Falls showed up as Oregon’s “best” hike. My guess is because it’s very accessible from Interstate 5, is mostly paved and easy, and it passes 10 pretty neat waterfalls, with associated photo opportunities. It’s also in a state park with a campground and all the amenities. So easy to get to pretty spectacular stuff – Instagram heaven! But it’s usually busy most of the year and very crowded on sunny weekends. There are a whole lot of other just as good (or better) hikes here in Oregon. The ones you mentioned are good as are some in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, Crater Lake, Sky Lakes Wilderness, on the coast, etc., etc. These may not have made the list because accessing them requires a little more effort and planning than just driving into the Silver Falls State Park parking lot. But, by all means come to Oregon to see the 10 falls but give yourself time to walk some of our other great trails!

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    1. Thanks for the info! That was exactly my reaction…I am sure it’s a fantastic hike, but, Mount Hood isn’t good enough? Tough for an iconic mountain to get loved. But the list was far more right than it was wrong.

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