NEW JERSEY – Connecticut has been named the best state in America for hiking and New Jersey was ranked No. 5, according to new research.
Travel experts at Why This Place 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.
The factors analyzed within the index included the number of hiking trails and waterfalls relative to state area, the percentage of each state covered by national and state parks, as well as the average yearly temperature and rainfall.
The 10 best US states for hiking are outlined below:
|Hiking Index Score / 100
- Connecticut ranked as the best state for hiking in the US, with a Hiking Index Score of 73.98 out of 100 across the five examined factors. The Constitution State boasts an impressive number of hiking trails in proportion to its size. In fact, it comes second only to Massachusetts with a staggering 1,455 hiking trails per 1,000 square miles. The state also has the third-highest state and national park coverage, accounting for 8.49% of its total area, and the fifth-highest number of waterfalls relative to its size, with 30 waterfalls per 1,000 square miles.
- Scoring 72.31 out of 100, Massachusetts ranked as the second-best state for hiking in the US. It was found to offer 2,221 hiking trails per 1,000 square miles which was the highest figure out of any state. The state also features 14 waterfalls per 1,000 square miles and 5.01% of its total area is covered by state and national parks.
- Hawaii was found to be the third-best state for hiking in the US, with a score of 72.09 out of 100. The Aloha State has the warmest average annual temperature at 73.5°F and the highest number of waterfalls relative to its size, with an impressive 85 waterfalls per 1,000 square miles. It also has the second-highest percentage of total area covered by state and national parks, at 9.46%.
- California is fourth on the list, scoring 69.49 out of 100 across the five factors. The Golden state offers 107 hiking trails and seven waterfalls per 1,000 square miles and has one of the lowest yearly average rainfall at 22.3 inches. A respectable 7.63% of California’s total state area is covered by state and national parks, meaning it ranks fifth highest for this factor.
- New Jersey ranked as the fifth best state for hiking in the US, with a Hiking Index Score of 69.49 out of 100. The state has 650 hiking trails per 1,000 square miles, meaning it ranks fourth-highest for this factor. It also has nine waterfalls per 1,000 square miles and 8.14% of its total area is covered by state and national parks. The Garden State also offers a balmy average temperature of 53.6°F year round.
- Arizona is the sixth-best state for hiking in America, with a Hiking Index Score of 64.25. It has the second-lowest average rainfall behind Nevada, with 11.6 inches annually and an average temperature of 61.1°F. Home to the Grand Canyon, Arizona offers 52 hiking trails and one waterfall per 1,000 square miles, and 2.17% of its total area is covered by state and national parks.
- Washington ranked seventh with a score of 62.45 out of 100. The Evergreen State has 140 hiking trails and 47 waterfalls per 1,000 square miles, ranking second for the latter factor. It receives an average of 43.2 inches of rainfall annually, and 4.18% of its total area is covered by state and natural parks.
- With a score of 61.55 out of 100, New Hampshire ranks as the eighth-best state for hiking in the US. The Granite State offers 482 hiking trails and the third-highest number of waterfalls relative to its size with 40 per 1,000 square miles. It has an average temperature of 44°F, yearly average rainfall of 48 inches, and 1.40% total national and state park coverage.
- Utah ranked as the ninth-best state overall for hiking, with a score of 61.22 out of 100. The state offers 87 hiking trails per 1,000 square miles and 1.86% state and national park coverage. The landlocked state has one waterfall per 1,000 miles and the third-lowest annual rainfall, at an average of 13.5 inches.
- Rhode Island is the tenth-best US state for hiking, scoring 60.65 out of 100. Despite being the smallest state in the US by area, Rhode Island has the third-highest number of hiking trails relative to its size, with 1,131 hiking trails per 1000 square miles. The Ocean State also has two waterfalls per 1000 square miles and 49 inches of rainfall annually.
“This data offers a fascinating insight into the best destinations in the US for lovers of the great outdoors. 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. When planning a trip, it is important to consider other factors that can greatly impact the quality of your journey. Climate and the presence of natural landmarks are just as vital to a successful hiking trip, so taking these elements into account, ensures visitors are able to enjoy a well-rounded experience,” a spokesperson for Why This Place said.