Taking the Rugged Road Less Traveled: 6 Trails for More Experienced Hikers

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Experienced Hikers

The best hikes offer exceptional views, epic geological features, and peaceful isolation. Experienced hikers have traveled the busy trails and are ready for the rugged, less-traveled routes.

Essential hiking gear

Before hitting the trails, experienced hikers need some necessary equipment, like lightweight backpacks to carry food and water. In addition, having one of the best survival knives helps hikers get through tangled brush. 

Hikers also need supportive, waterproof, and comfortable footwear to maneuver through the trail’s features. 

South Maroon Peak in Maroon Bells, Colorado

This 12-mile round trip lets you get an up-close look at the South Maroon and North Maroon fourteeners near the Maroon Lake Scenic Trail. 

This trail brings you into the sedimentary mudstone, so experts advise wearing a helmet on the trail. Much of the route takes hikers above the treeline, aiming to reach the peak via some rock scrambling. 

Greenstone Ridge Trail on Isle Royale, Michigan

As you prepare for the hike around Isle Royale National Park, know that you won’t see many people. You’ll most likely see more moose than people. 

The trailhead begins on the island’s western side, which you can only reach by ferry. The best time for this epic 42-mile hike is late September or early October when the trees achieve their peak colors. 

Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim Trail in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

A small percentage of Grand Canyon visitors attempt hiking the North Kaibab Trail to the bottom of the canyon, then walking up the Bright Angel Trail on the other side. 

The trail is only 14.6 miles, but it’s a grueling trip with quick elevation changes that result in a view that few visitors see – from the bottom of the canyon. 

Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth, Minnesota

The complete trail is just under 300 miles and traverses the northwest shore of Lake Superior. Hikers begin the route in Duluth, MN, then move along the Canadian border. 

The trail has small day hikes for beginners, while experts enjoy the entire route. Like the Isle Royale hike, this one is best in the late summer to early fall to see the trees change colors

Appalachian Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The Appalachian Trail is over 2,200 miles, but the most memorable part is a 70-mile section in Tennessee through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. 

This trail segment features Clingman’s Dome, the highest summit. Hikers need permits to move through the path with only one road crossing, showing how remote the segment is. 

Pacific Crest Trail along the Pacific Ocean

This trail isn’t for the faint-hearted. The trail encompasses more than 1,000 miles through California, Oregon, and Washington. Experienced hikers will need four to six months to complete it. 

Wrap up

With the right equipment and planning, experienced hikers have several trails to test their strength and endurance. From the Mexican border with California to the Minnesota border with Canada, hikers have plenty of rugged trails with exceptional views.