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Perfect 10: North America’s 10 Most Memorable Hikes

Ten trails. Ten unmatched miles each. Get maximum bang for each boot step on hikes that our most-traveled contributors call their all-time favorites.

Perfect 10 Grayson Highlands State Park, VA
Score big rewards for little effort.
–Jennifer Pharr Davis, as told to Ellie Levitt

In six years of hiking, including treks on six continents and speed records on the Long and Appalachian Trails, I’ve seen my share of jawdropping vistas. But when I want a soul-satisfying hike I can count on year in, year out, I always return to this 10-miler in Virginia’s uplands.

It has a sky big enough to rival any in Montana, a heavenly blue that arcs over an open grassland with rocky outcroppings laced with rhododendrons in June. This loop combines creekside rambling, top-of-a-grassy-world views, trailside waterfalls, rhododendron tunnels, blueberry patches, and wild ponies. Step for step, it’s the most rewarding place I’ve ever been.

You could exhaust a memory card by mile six, where a sidehike leads to to 20-foot Cabin Creek Falls. Take your time—it’s just four miles back to the trailhead, and it’s best hiked at sunset.

PERFECT 10 Link the Horse Trail East, Wilson Creek, Appalachian, Appalachian Spur, and Cabin Creek Trails
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DO IT From Damascus, take VA 58 16.4 miles west to a left on Grayson Highlands Ln.
MAP Grayson Highlands Trail Guide (free, see Contact)
CONTACT (276) 579-7092; dcr.virginia.gov/state_parks/gra.shtml

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1 Comment

  1. lagunahiker

    If you’re planning on hiking Mt Whitney from Kearsarge Pass, study a map carefully before you go. The hike includes a climb over Forester Pass (13,200 ft), the highest pass on the John Muir Trail, as well as the climb over Kearsarge Pass, a 12,000 ft pass. It’s a great hike, with great views (I’ve done it three times), but it is significantly more difficult than backpacking the Portal Trail.

    Avatar of lagunahiker

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