Think you need months of preparation and years of experience to complete an epic hiking trip? Think again. These five North American hikes are some of the best in the world and can be completed within a weekend.
Yosemite National Park’s Half Dome
Half Dome isn’t for the feint of heart. Located in Yosemite National Park, one of America’s most popular national parks, Half Dome rises from oak and sequoia groves in a tree-lined valley to towering granite peaks in every direction.
Follow the John Muir and Mist trails up unrelenting stairs and alongside flowing waterfalls. Once you are high into the mountains, follow the trail above the treeline to the cable ladders of the Granite Slabs and pull your way up to get an absolutely epic view.
Half Dome is a grueling 14km trail (one way) that has daytrippers starting at 3 a.m. to reach the peak and make it back to the parking lot before sunset. If this doesn’t sound appealing to you, you can camp in Little Yosemite Valley and break the hike into two days.
Lake Louise’s Plain of Six Glaciers
Above Lake Louise, one of Canada’s most iconic and well-recognized lakes, sits Victoria Glacier and the Plain of Six Glaciers. This rewarding 11 km day trek takes hikers away from the crystal blue shores of Lake Louise up the moraine debris trail to the glaciers.
Whether you opt for a challenging extension of the Beehive and Lake Agnes trail or not, ensure you grab a German Chocolate Cake from the alpine tea house that overlooks the glacial valley.
Yoho National Park’s Iceline Trail
Ask locals of British Columbia’s Yoho National Park what their favourite trail is and many will come back with this one. But if you only have a weekend, make sure you’ve staked out your route—the shortest is 13 km and its extensions could easily turn it into a multi-day trek.
Depart from the misty viewpoint trail of Takakkaw Falls, Canada’s third tallest waterfall. Climb above the dense pine forests to the foot of Emerald Glacier. Above this point is the Burgess Shale, a restricted zone with many pre-historic shale fossils that date back to when the Rockies were under the Pacific Ocean.
British Columbia’s Black Tusk
This famous basalt plug, located in British Columbia’s coastal mountains near Whistler, is a hikers dream. Snow covered until June, the trail starts among dense pine forests later moving into sweet smelling meadows before climbing into loose scree rock slides. Bring a hard hat to ascend the final chute at the mountain’s peak where you can enjoy the view of crystal-blue Garibaldi Lake at the valley floor.
Grand Canyon’s Rim to River
If you have a need for speed when it comes to hiking, this trek can be completed in one very long day. Follow the mule and footpath down the Bright Angel Trail, which has great access to drinking water. It comes in handy since the region can get upwards of 50 degrees Celsius in summer months.
Although it’s possible to complete this journey in a day, plan for two. You can reserve a night in a backcountry campsite within the Canyon, preferably Indian Wells so you can watch the sunset at Prospect Point.