The 9 Most Beautiful Hikes in U.S. National Parks

Sentinel Dome and Taft Point Loop, Yosemite National Park, California

On a 5.1-mile round, see Sentinel Dome's breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley and Taft Point's vertiginous views of El Capitan and Yosemite Falls.

Precipice and North Ridge Trails, Acadia National Park, Maine

The 3.2-mile Champlain Mountain Precipice Trail offers Atlantic views of Acadia's shoreline grandeur. Cadillac Summit Road charges $35/car.

Watchman Peak Trail, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

A 1.6-mile climb to a historic fire lookout offers stunning views of Crater Lake and Wizard Island. Summer and early fall are best; $30 per vehicle, check Rim Drive conditions.

Bright Angel to Plateau Point Trail, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

A 12-mile roundtrip hike to Plateau Point overlooks the Grand Canyon, Colorado River, and inner gorge. Summer heat is reduced by starting early; spring and fall are best; $35 per vehicle.

Forney Ridge Trail to Andrews Bald, Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina and Tennessee

Hike 3.6 miles across the Great Smoky Mountains to Andrews Bald for above-treeline Fontana Lake and southern mountain views.

High Dune, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

Hiking 2.5 km to High Dune offers views of North America's highest dunes and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Parking near tourist center, $25 vehicle entrance, best in spring or fall.

Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

A 0.5-mile loop through Mesa Arch before dawn shows Canyonlands' natural beauty and famous sandstone features. Mesa Arch Trailhead at Island in the Sky.

Highline Trail, Glacier National Park, Montana

A 12-mile one-way trip via cliffs, meadows, and Grinnell Glacier offers unique Glacier landscapes. Best in late summer and early fall; $35 per vehicle, start at Logan Pass, shuttle back.

Glacier Gorge Trail to Sky Pond, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

The 8.5-mile roundtrip hike to Sky Pond in Rocky Mountain National Park offers alpine lake views amidst granite cirque settings. Year-round access; June and July for wildflowers.

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