Famed American naturalist John Muir once said, “The mountains are calling, and I must go”—words that resonate in the hearts of adventurers and hikers everywhere. The U.S. offers a variety of world-class hikes that take you through deserts and forests, to the tops of mountains and along the continental coastline. But it can be hard to navigate while you’re out on the trail, especially in areas with limited cell phone coverage. That’s why a rugged outdoor watch like the Garmin Instinct™ is a necessary accessory. With a built-in 3-axis compass and barometric altimeter, multiple satellite navigation systems that can handle the most challenging environments and the ability to connect with an inReach Mini satellite communicator, rest assured you’ll never lose your way. Whichever trek inspires you, be sure to bring your sense of adventure.
1.Pacific Crest Trail
At 2,650 miles, the PCT is one of the most epic long-distance hikes in the world, running from British Columbia, Canada, to the U.S.-Mexico border in California. The vast majority of the trail runs through the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges, but it also cuts through every type of environment you’ll find in the western United States: deserts, deep forests, and glacial expanses. Experienced hikers can thru-hike the PCT in a single trip (which takes between four and six months), and there are numerous day and section hikes suitable for all skill levels.
2.The Colorado Trail
This 485-mile trail is the premiere way for outdoor enthusiasts to tour Colorado’s rugged alpine terrain. Most of the trail is above 10,000 feet, and along the way it passes through eight mountain ranges, six National Forests, six wilderness areas, and a world-class ski resort. Whether preparing for a daytrip or a long-distance trek, given the trail’s high elevation hikers should pack lightweight insulating layers, synthetic or wool parka and pants shells, and a balaclava or stocking cap.
The 2,200-mile A.T. is the longest hiking-only trail in the world. Tracing a series of lush, and at times vigorous spurs from Georgia to Maine, the trail offers access points in 14 different states. The trail mostly journeys through forests and woodlands, and the 72 miles that run through the Great Smoky Mountains are particularly jaw-dropping. There are several day-hikes suitable for all levels, while thru-hiking is increasingly popular, attempted by thousands every year. If you’re an experienced hiker and you want to take on the challenge, a built-to-last, water-resistant navigation watch like the Instinct will provide GPS you can count on.
4.Half Dome Hike, Yosemite National Park
Despite an 1865 report that called it “perfectly inaccessible,” thousands of people now reach the summit of Yosemite’s famous granite dome. But it’s not for the faint of heart. This arduous hike is 14 to 16 miles round trip, gains 4,800 feet in elevation, and requires an assent up metal cables to complete the final 400 feet. You’ll need well-broken-in boots with good traction and sturdy gloves. But the reward is worth it: panoramic views of the High Sierra and Yosemite Valley, among the most awe-inspiring landscapes in the country.
5.The Kalalau Trail
This 22-mile trail winds along the wildly rugged Na Pali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Zigzagging through five lush valleys and across dramatic seaside cliffs, the trail’s panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean are unbeatable. The first leg of the trail comes out to about two miles, perfect for a day hike that ends at Hanakapi’ai Beach. More adventurous hikers can continue on via narrow, strenuous switchbacks and ridges to Kalalau Valley, a secluded wonderland inaccessible by car.
Ready to get out there? Whichever one of these trails you set out to tackle next, you’ll be all set to master it with the right tools, a sense of determination, and the Garmin Instinct™ GPS watch that’s just as adventurous as you.
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