10 Seven Lakes Basin - Olympic National Park
Steep mountain ridges and dense vegetation make up most of Olympic National Park. The hike to Seven Lakes Basin runs atop one of these ridges and offers views above the treeline that most visitors in Olympic will never see. Highlights of the hike include Sul Doc Falls, 10 alpine lakes, and on clear days - views of Mt Olympus.
9 Trail of the Sequoias - Sequoia National Park
Hiking amongst the Sequoia trees is a profound experience. They are the largest trees on Earth, and some of them are more than 3,000 years old. The Trail of the Sequoias cuts through the heart of the Giant Forest and it can be extended to include a number of other hiking loops and meadows. Highlights of the hike include the entire Congress Loop, the General Sherman Tree, Crescent Meadow, Log Meadow, and Tharpe's Log.
8 Fiery Furnace - Arches National Park
The Fiery Furnace is an adventure of a hike through a maze of sandstone. There are numerous hidden arches to find and areas where you can wander deep off trail (all while respecting the delicate desert ecosystem). A permit is required to see the Fiery Furnace - read more about permits here.
7 Maple Pass - North Cascades National Park
There is a lot of great hiking in North Cascades NP, but the best bang for your buck is Maple Pass. Most of the hike is above the treeline and the pass offers incredible mountain views in every direction. The loop hike climbs high above two lakes which are cool to see up close and even better from high above. Honorable mention goes to Hidden Lake and Sahale Arm, two more excellent day-hikes in North Cascades NP.
6 Angel's Landing - Zion National Park
One of the most popular hiking routes in the country. Angel's Landing offers great views of Zion Canyon, but perhaps more enticingly, it offers a chance for hikers to feel like rock-climbers with numerous thousand foot drop-offs en route to the peak. The final ascent up the monolith is assisted by chains which are bolted to the rock. Get an early start to beat the crowds!
5 Highline Trail - Glacier National Park
The Highline Trail becomes a rewarding hike almost immediately, opening up to an expansive view above the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Casual hikers can go as far as they like before turning around, and fit hikers can continue on to reach a viewpoint high above Grinnell Lake. The Highline Trail is open in late-summer only due to snow.
4 Bryce Point to Sunrise Point - Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon is an outstanding hiking destination. The best hike to see everything descends at Bryce Point and ascends at Sunrise Point, with detours to see "Wall Street" and the "Queen's Garden" on the canyon floor. This hike can be done one-way (non-loop) when the park shuttles are running. Start at Bryce Point as it has a higher elevation!
3 the Joint Trail - Canyonlands National Park
The Needles District of Canyonlands is famous for vertical sandstone spires, similar to the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon but much larger. Hiking here is incredibly rewarding with eye-popping rock formations around every corner. The "Joint Trail" is a grid of slot canyons which marks the endpoint of the hike - it's a spectacle unlike anything else in Utah. Other highlights en route to the Joint Trail include Elephant Canyon and Chesler Park.
2 the Narrows - Zion National Park
There's every slot canyon on Earth... and then there's the Narrows. This is the crown jewel of Zion National Park and it's worth walking in a river to see it. Summer is the most popular and most crowded time to hike the Narrows, and late summer brings occasional monsoon storms. Fall and even winter are excellent times to hike the Narrows with much smaller crowds (warm clothes and waterproof gear required). The Narrows are often closed during spring months due to high water-flow. All Narrows gear can be rented at the park.
1 Half Dome - Yosemite National Park
Half Dome is an obvious choice for the best day-hike in the Western U.S. and reaching its summit is a real accomplishment. The hike has the added bonus of ascending alongside Vernal Falls and Nevada Falls, two of Yosemite's best waterfalls. Half Dome will challenge you physically and mentally. Be sure to put in the time to train for it and don't attempt it if you have a fear of heights. This hike requires a permit and park rangers check for them at the base of the cables. Read more about hiking Half Dome here.