These Are the Best States for Hiking in 2023

The number one state in a newly published report may surprise you!

There is great hiking spots to be found in every state, but some states offer more than others and Why This Place has done the research to rank the top 10 states for getting out and strolling or trekking through nature. The experts over at the site analyzed five factors that "they believe contribute to an optimal hiking experience, and gave each of the 50 US states a score out of 100 in order to create their Hiking Index," according to the report shared with Thrillist.

Those factors include the number of hiking trails and waterfalls relative to the state’s area, the percentage of each state that is covered by national and state parks, plus factors like average yearly rainfall and average temperature. Basically, how much hiking is there? And is it pleasant to hike?

Based on these factors, Connecticut got the top ranking, with a score of 73.98 out of 100. If asked, I definitely would not have guessed that the state I most closely associate with people saying "New York City is dangerous" would be the top hiking state. But as an East Coaster, I'm happy to be wrong. The state scored high for having a large proportion of hiking trails and waterfalls, with a total of 1,455 hiking trails per 1,000 square miles. In second place is Massachusetts, and third is Hawaii. See the top 10 below:
1. Connecticut
2. Massachusetts
3. Hawaii
4. California
5. New Jersey
6. Arizona
7. Washington
8. New Hampshire
9. Utah
10. Rhode Island

Is your state listed in the top 10? According to searched data shared this week by Google, the top five most popular hiking spots right now are:
1. Saddle Mountain (Saddle Mountain State Natural Area, Oregon)
2. Dungeness Spit (Sequim, Washington)
3. Griffith Observatory (Los Angeles, California)
4. Manitou Incline (The Incline, Colorado)
5. Lake 22 (Granite Falls, Washington)

So most of the popular hikes are in a top 10 state, though Oregon and Colorado did not make it into the top spots based on Why This Place’s methodology.

"This data offers a fascinating insight into the best destinations in the US for lovers of the great outdoors," a Why This Place spokesperson shared with Thrillist. "Connecticut's emergence as the best state for hiking may appear rather surprising, however, its large proportion of trails and park coverage means that hikers of all skill levels are likely to find a trail that caters to their preferences across the beautiful New England state."

With these details in your hand, you now have a pretty good starting point to plan your next big hike.

Looking for more travel inspo?

If you're ready for an adventure but not sure where you'd like to go or what to do, we're on it. The best new hotels opening up around the world. The most Instagram-worthy Airbnbs. The latest details on our remarkable national parks. It's all here along with all the travel news you need to stay informed and inspired.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Opheli Garcia Lawler is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.