15 Most Scenic Hikes on The East Coast USA

Are you looking forward to experiencing an incredibly exciting and unforgettable hiking adventure with your friends and family? The East Coast hiking trails serve as the perfect travel location for nature enthusiasts. Accompanied by luscious green forests, captivating topography, and rich biodiversity, visiting the East Coast of America offers one of the most popular hiking experiences in the world!

Some trails are perfect for family visits, while some are ideal for solo hiking tours. Some spots even allow tourists to bring along their pets. However, different hiking trails come with a unique set of rules and regulations that need to be followed properly for the best experience.

best hikes on the east coast usa

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Do you want to learn more about the best hikes on the East Coast? Start reading this article right away! Here, you will get to learn about the best East Coast hiking destinations in detail.

What are the best hiking trails on the East Coast?

Though there are several amazing hiking spots available, some are better than others. These are some spectacular coastal mountain trails offering the best experience to hikers:

1. Circle B Bar Reserve, Lakeland

  • Distance: The approximate distance of various trails range from 0.25 – 6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: Minimal

If you are in search of the best hiking spot in Florida, Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland is one of the best places to visit. This place offers incredible outdoor exploration to tourists who can indulge in the richness of forests and wildlife, with the prime wildlife attraction being big alligators, which serve as the top subject for photographers.

Along with alligators, hikers can even come across other wildlife animals such as herons, sandhill cranes, squirrels, etc. It comprises more than 14 trails, acquiring an area of 1,200 km. The beautiful scenic views combined with the praiseworthy landscapes make it one of the best hiking destinations.

Circle B Bar Reserve hike
Circle B Bar Reserve

2. Keuka Lake Outlet Trail, Seneca Lake

  • Distance: 13.5 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 278 feet

The Keuka Lake Outlet Trail nature walk offers hikers with 20 beautiful scenic trails spread over a wide area. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city crowd, it is a tranquil place for you to relax with your friends and family. You can click a ton of pictures near the vineyard-rich valley.

This trail even offers visitors incredible lodging options at the magnificent Belhurst Castle Winery. If you wish to bring your dog along, do not worry; it is a pet-friendly hiking spot; hence, you can readily do that!

Keuka Lake Outlet Trail
Keuka Lake Outlet Trail

3. Haystack Mountain, Norfolk

  • Distance: approximately 0.8 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate level
  • Elevation gain: approximately 220 feet

Haystack Mountain in Connecticut, located in Litchfield Hills, is another incredible hiking destination filled with countless thrills and adventures for hikers who are looking for a fun-filled experience. This place comes with a short and steep hiking trail that is rich in scenic beauty.

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The trail is filled with lush green forests on both sides that are home to multiple species of birds. If you visit the trek, do not forget to visit the historic stone observation tower built in 1929 at the summit of Haystack Mountain.

So, if you are willing to experience some exclusively breathtaking sunset views, this is the perfect mountain trail on the East Coast to visit!

Haystack Mountain
Haystack Mountain

4. Mount Rogers, Grayson Highlands State Park

  • Distance: 10.5 miles out-and-back approximately
  • Difficulty: Highly challenging or strenuous
  • Elevation gain: 1,778 feet

It is one of the top East Coast hikes that ensures a truly fascinating experience for hikers amidst the wilderness of nature. It can provide you with the best Virginia hiking. This place offers an incredible landscaped view of the Scottish Highlands from the summit of the mountain.

Since the elevation gain is higher here, this trail is best suited for experienced hikers. So, if you are a beginner, this place might not be perfect for you. However, leashed pets are allowed on this trail. Hence, if you want to bring your pet along, ensure that you keep them leashed.

Grayson Highlands State Park

5. Dark Hollow Falls, Shenandoah National Park

  • Distance: 1.6 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderately difficult
  • Elevation gain: 583 feet roughly

This is one of the best National Parks on the East Coast to visit for hiking. It is a short and steep trail packed with breathtaking scenery of the Dark Hollow waterfall. Hence, you are sure to get a ton of spectacular pictures here.

Going through the woods, you can encounter a lot of wildlife creatures, including various species of birds. During the fall season, the park turns out to be much more captivating, making it the perfect time for a visit.

So, if you are confused about what time of the year to go, fall is indeed the best time to choose!

Dark Hollow Falls
Dark Hollow Falls

6. Mount Yonah

  • Distance: 4.1 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Elevation gain: 1,453 feet

Are you in for some adventure? Visit the beautiful Mount Yonah located in Georgia. With some of the most breathtaking landscape views, this place has a lot more to offer to hikers looking for an out-of-the-ordinary thrill. Although it is ranked as “hard”, having adequate knowledge and experience in hiking would work perfectly.

The best part about trekking on Mount Yonah is the amazing view of North Georgia from the summit. Also, if you want to bring your dog along, Mt Yonah readily allows that. Being a dog-friendly hiking spot, you can indulge in an amazing trail exploration experience here with your dog.

Mount Yonah
Mount Yonah

7. River Rapids Nature Trail, Hillsborough River

  • Distance: approximately 1.3-mile loop
  • Difficulty: slightly difficult
  • Elevation gain: minimal

It is one of the best hiking destinations on the East Coast, spreading over an area of 2,990 acres. This hiking trail is home to diverse ecosystems comprising green landscapes, picture-worthy trails, and wildlife. Since it is a hiking spot with negligible elevation, it is a great spot for beginners.

If you don’t compromise much knowledge about hiking, you can indeed visit this place! Although the summers in Florida can be increasingly uncomfortable, the soothing weather during spring serves as the best climate for hikers to indulge in a completely unforgettable hiking experience!

Hillsborough River Rapids
Hillsborough River Rapids

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8. The Beehive Trail, Acadia National Park

  • Distance: roughly a 1.5-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging
  • Elevation gain: about 500 feet

If you are a nature enthusiast and frequently go on hiking trips, covering a moderately challenging spot will undoubtedly be a thoroughly exciting experience for you, right?

Check out the Beehive Trail located in Acadia National Park, Maine. This hiking trail is packed with tourists all around the year for its spectacular scenic views. Once you hike to the summit of the trail, you will be left completely mesmerized by the breathtakingly beautiful view of the Sand Beach and the magnificent Atlantic Ocean.

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If you are looking for a truly wholesome hiking experience, this is indeed one of the most appropriate places to go for seaside hikes!

The Beehive Trail
The Beehive Trail

9. Artist’s Bluff, Franconia Notch State Park

  • Distance: 1.5-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging
  • Elevation gain: roughly 436 feet

Wondering why the name ‘Artist’s Bluff’? Just as the name suggests, the beautiful scenic view of the gorgeous orange, red, and yellow autumn leaves makes it no less than the creative stroke of an artist’s brush! So, if you are interested in capturing some spectacular landscape views, plan your trip to this spot right away!

Are you willing to take your dog on this hiking trip? You can certainly do that since Artist’s Bluff is one of the most iconic dog-friendly trails on the East Coast that you and your canine friend can explore! It is a short yet steep slope with moderate elevation, so you both can have a great time here!

Artist's Bluff
Artist’s Bluff

10. Gordon’s Pond Trail, Rehoboth Beach

  • Distance: approximately 6.4 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: exactly 55 feet

Planning to make a short yet joyous hiking trip with your friends and family? Come and visit Gordons Pond Trail at Rehoboth Beach for praiseworthy views and seaside nature walks with ocean views on the East Coast. This is the perfect paradise for nature lovers who are striving to have a good time and have a relaxing experience with their loved ones.

This trail is incredibly easy to trek and comes packed with spectacular views comprising lush green forests, waterbodies, etc. Also, if you are interested in birdwatching, do not forget to carry your binoculars since you will encounter more than 100 species of birds here.

11. Brasstown Bald, Georgia

  • Distance: 1.2 miles out-and-back approximately
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging
  • Elevation gain: 426 feet

If you are willing to go for a thrilling and exciting East Coast trekking trip among the wilderness, visit Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain peak in Georgia. The view from the summit of the mountain is simply breathtaking and will fill you with lifelong golden memories!

The trail follows a paved path, maintaining a moderate steepness. Hence, you should trek with caution. You can also take short breaks at the bench stations located here.

However, if you wish to bring your pet on a hiking trip, Brasstown Bald is the perfect spot! Since many hiking trails are not pet-friendly, it becomes an issue to bring your pet along.

Brasstown Bald
Brasstown Bald

12. Kaaterskill Falls, Catskill Mountains

  • Distance: 1.6 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Easy-moderate
  • Elevation gain: 400 feet

If you are looking for easy, family-friendly hikes on the East Coast, Kaaterskill Falls should indeed be on your bucket list. With easy and newly installed steps, climbing up the trail is nothing complicated. Hence, you can even bring along your kids on this hiking trip.

The two-tiered waterfall is the prime attraction that brings tourists from all around the world. Another important waterfall you will encounter here is the Bastion Falls. Visiting this trail with your loved ones will undoubtedly be an incredibly joyful experience for you.

13. McAfee Knob, Catawba Mountain

  • Distance: Roughly 8 miles out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderately challenging
  • Elevation gain: 1,654 feet

This is an amazing hiking trail that offers hikers 2 potential routes to go up the trail, that is, the Appalachian Trail hikes and McAfee Knob Trail. Most of the hikers prefer the Appalachian trail route for its increasing convenience when climbing up. On their way back, the McAfee Knob Trail is preferred due to its gentler slope.

This is a mildly busy hiking spot always packed with trekkers engaged in a thoroughly adventurous experience! Speaking of pets, you can bring your dog here since it is a pet-friendly hiking spot. However, the shuttle is only for service dogs and not ordinary pet dogs.

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McAfee Knob
McAfee Knob

14. Cadillac Mountain Trail, Acadia National Park

  • Distance: 4 – 6.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Mildy challenging
  • Elevation gain: 1,120 – 1,550 feet roughly

Located on the eastern seaboard, It is one of the most beautiful scenic hiking trails you will ever visit in your lifetime! To reach the summit of the tallest mountain on the Eastern seaboard, you can choose between the two trails, the South Ridge Trail and the North Ridge Trail.

The South Ridge Trail provides hikes with camping options on the East Coast due to its gentle elevation. Meanwhile, the North Ridge Trail comes with a much steeper elevation. Also, do not miss the sunrise here since it is incredibly beautiful to witness from the summit!

15. Bonticou Crag, Mohonk Preserve

  • Distance: 2.3-mile loop
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 567 feet

If you are not afraid of heights, this trail is perfect for coastal hiking adventures! Amidst the luscious green forests, you will reach the climbing rocks. You will not encounter trekking since the trail is marked with directions. However, you can even explore the various interconnecting routes for more adventure.

If you want to witness simply beautiful sunsets and sunrises, climb up to the top of the trail. Since the rocks here are relatively steeper, trekking with your dog will not be a great decision. However, with the back loop being gentle, you can take your dog along.

Bonticou Crag trail
Bonticou Crag Trail

Conclusion

Hiking is a refreshment of the soul. For nature and wildlife enthusiasts, going on a hiking trip can greatly help rejuvenate their body, mind, and soul! When looking for the best coastal hikes, you cannot simply miss out on the East Coast. Make sure to add all the above-mentioned places to your hiking bucket list to indulge in a wholesome experience!

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FAQs:

1. Can you recommend beginner-friendly mountain hikes on the East Coast?

A: The Eastern Coast is widely popular for hiking trails with spectacular landscape views. Since every trail comes with a significant elevation, it might not be convenient for beginners to climb the ones with higher elevations. Some of the best scenic mountain trails for beginners on the East Coast are River Rapids Nature Trail in Hillsborough River, Howe Brook Trail in Baxter State Park, Connetquot River Trail in State Park Reserve, and Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.

2. Are there any multi-day backpacking options on the East Coast?

A: A multi-day backpacking trip is highly convenient for hikers with a low budget. If you are traveling to the East Coast with the purpose of hiking, you can avail yourself of multiple options for backpacking on the East Coast. The best multi-day backpacking options are available at The Long Trail in Vermont, The Beehive in Acadia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park, and a lot more.

3. What are the hidden gem hiking spots on the East Coast?

A: Some of the best Eastern wilderness hikes that are deemed as hidden gems for tourists are Watkins Glen in New York, Halibut Point in Massachusetts, Old Rag Mountain in Virginia, the Artist’s Bluff in Franconia, Mt. Yonah, Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the Beehive Trail in Acadia National Park, Saddle Trail Loop in Baxter State Park, Avalanche Pass and Avalanche Lake Trail in Adirondack Mountains and, Devil’s Path in Catskill Mountains.

4. What are the best times of the year for hiking on the East Coast?

A: Hiking involves exploring the wilderness; hence, you will require warm, sunny, and comfortable weather for the best experience. The time between April and November marks both the seasons, spring and autumn, which are ideal for East Coast nature excursions. If you plan your trip within this period, you are guaranteed to have an amazing hiking experience!

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