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North Mt. Elbert Trail – Leadville, Colorado
Length: 8.7 miles
Challenges: The elevation (14,440 feet!) is the highest in the state of Colorado. Make sure to get an early start to this hike, since thunderstorms often roll in during the afternoon.
Why it’s worth it: The vast views at the top make the difficult hike worth it. You’ll also see beautiful streams and abundant wildlife.
Duncan Ridge Trail – northern Georgia
Length: 30.1 miles
Challenges: The heat and wild animals. The trail is known for bears and large snakes. Make sure you’re prepared and bring plenty of water.
Why it’s worth it: It’s Georgia’s most challenging hike, complete with gorgeous views and plenty of wildlife.
The Maze – Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Length: 13.5 miles
Challenges: There are numerous canyons leading to dead-ends, which can mean even the most experienced hikers can get lost. This trail sees only 2,000 people per year on average due to the likelihood of getting lost!
Why it’s worth it: While the hike is extremely challenging, there’s never been a death — meaning it is pretty safe as long as you’re a pro at reading a map. Also, nothing comes close to being in Utah’s most beautiful canyons and seeing nature at its best.
Devil’s Path – New York
Length: 25 miles
Challenges: The hike is extremely steep and can be slippery in certain spots. That, coupled with black bears in the area, make it one of the most dangerous — and thrilling — hikes in the US.
Why it’s worth it: The peaks allow for one-of-a-kind views of the Catskills, and there are beautiful waterfalls along the trail.
More on hiking
Best places to hike in the US
The backpacker’s travel checklist
Top baby-friendly hikes