The Best Peaks in America - Backpacker

The Best Peaks in America

We asked readers to pick the best mountain in their state. This is what they said.
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Sometimes, the best mountain is the closest one. We asked BACKPACKER readers for the top peaks* in their states to help you find a climb near you. Check out their picks above—and then read about some highlights below.

*Or hills, bluffs, or dunes. Not every state has vertical. 

Washington: Mt. Rainier

Best use of an ice axe in the Lower 48: Climb Mt. Rainier. With 25 glaciers, it offers an Alaska-style summit experience. Hire a guide and tackle the classic Disappointment Cleaver route from Paradise to rest-step your way around crevasses and over ice bridges to the crater rim.

Oregon: Mt. Hood

Highpoint Oregon’s iconic peak on the South Side route, a 3-mile, class 2 walk-up from the Timberline Lodge that stays away from the steep-and-technical stuff. But don’t let Hood’s short-distance summit fool you: The weather up there can be unforgiving. Bring an ice axe, crampons, and mountain know-how.

Arizona: Mt. Lemmon

Nab a campsite along Lemmon Creek (usually flows year-round) in the Wilderness of Rock to bed down beside hoodoos and canyons on the 10-mile loop connecting the Mt. Lemmon (#5) and Wilderness of Rock Trails (#44).

Montana: Trapper Peak

For a two-day ascent of Trapper, hike in 2.3 miles on day one from the Baker Lake trailhead to camp at Gem Lake, beneath the mountain’s northeast ridge. The next morning, ascend the boulder-strewn, class 3 gully near the lake to gain Trapper’s summit.

Idaho: Bald Mountain

To avoid the crowds on Sun Valley’s most popular mountain, take the 10.4-mile back way by connecting the Warm Springs and Broadway Trails. The reward: views over the valley and the rugged Pioneer Range to the northeast.

South Dakota: Black Elk Peak

Link the Harney Peak Trail, Trail 4, and the Norbeck Trail on a 6.8-mile loop to South Dakota’s highpoint. Along the way, you’ll slalom past granite towers as you
gradually rise above them.

Colorado: Longs Peak

This Colorado classic takes an entire day. Leave the Longs Peak trailhead by 3 a.m. for the 14.5-mile round-trip, which gains 5,000 feet before passing through the class 3 Keyhole en route to the top of Rocky Mountain National Park and the Front Range.

Texas: Guadalupe Peak

Starting at the Pine Springs Campground, the Guadalupe Peak Trail rises 4.1 miles through intermittent stands of pinyon pine and Douglas fir (and navigates around some cliffbands) to the mountaintop. To stretch your mission into a two-day trip, make camp at mile 3.1 (first-come, first-serve).

Missouri: Mudlick Mountain

After summiting Mudlick Mountain via the 12-mile loop trail, go explore Big Creek on the mountain’s northern and eastern sides. The area is home to the Big Creek crayfish, a 2-inch-long crustacean found only here.

Louisiana: Laborde Mountain

In need of peace and quiet amid the Big Easy’s cacophony? Readers recommend a stroll through City Park, to a small rise all of 43 feet above sea level. “Oxygen and Sherpas are available upon request,” says the park’s website.

Alabama: Lookout Mountain

The Alabama portion of Lookout (the true summit is in Georgia) is home to Little River Canyon National Preserve. Tackle the 1.5-mile Eberhart Trail, which descends from Lookout into the park’s namesake canyon.

Maine: Katahdin

Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain somehow edged out this iconic massif in reader voting, but we’re going to use our veto power. Not only is Katahdin the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, but unlike Cadillac, you don’t have to share the scene with a parking lot.

Vermont: Mt. Mansfield

The Hell Brook Trail up Mt. Mansfield is short, steep, and sweet. You’ll gain 2,736 feet of elevation on the 1.2-mile climb to the top. As you catch your breath, take in views of Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains.

Massachusetts: Mt. Greylock

Tackle the 6.2-mile Cheshire Harbor Trail in fall. You’ll wind your way to Greylock’s summit and back—passing a bucolic pond on the way—all while admiring New England’s famous autumn foliage.

New York: Whiteface Mountain

Known as “Iceface” in winter, Whiteface offers expansive views over Lake Placid and the Adirondacks. Bonus: After the 9.3-mile summit trail, tick off another Adirondack 46er by hiking the 4.8-mile out-and-back to nearby Esther Mountain.

Delaware: The Great Dune

In Cape Henlopen State Park, take the 2.6-mile round-trip to
view the Atlantic from atop this lofty dune field.

Florida: Big Shoals

On the northern reaches of the Florida Trail, the footpath rises along with the shoreline above foaming Big Shoals rapids on the Suwannee River. Set out for a 5.6-mile out-and-back from Bell Springs and bring your camping gear: Bluff-top views and a river soundtrack will make you want to stay awhile.

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