By Michael Lanza

Imagine this: You’re heading out on a long, beautiful hike deep in the backcountry, but instead of a full backpack, you carry a light daypack. You’ve avoided hassles with getting a backcountry permit and there’s no camp to set up and pack up. I love backpacking—and I do it a lot. But sometimes, I prefer to knock off a weekend-length—or longer—hike in one big day.

A completely different way to experience a hike, walking 15 to 20 or more miles in a day feels liberating in how lightly you travel and how much ground you can cover. The following list of 14 hikes represents the very best long—and huge—dayhikes I’ve taken over more than three decades of hiking all over the country, as a longtime field editor for Backpacker magazine and running this blog.

I’ve taken huge dayhikes many times simply because I had just one day free and wanted to see as much as possible. But there are some long stretches of trail that, to me, just cry out to be hiked in a day—for aesthetic reasons and because the length and access are just right and the scenery top shelf. The hikes on this list possess those qualities.

If you have a favorite long dayhike that you think belongs on this list, tell me in the comments section at the bottom of this story, and I’ll try to get to it. Or just tell me what you think of my list. I try to respond to all comments.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of
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