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2013 Reader's Choice Awards: Finalists for Best Hiking Trail

You Recognized the Best of the Best

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You nominated and voted for your favorite hiking trails in the 2013 About.com Reader's Choice Awards -- and now the results are in! You can view the final poll results, see the winners in all 10 About Hiking categories, or read up on the five finalists in this category (below).

The Winner: The John Muir Trail (California)

The John Muir Trail covers 215 miles of the legendary naturalist/conservationist/writer's beloved Sierra Nevada mountains, from Yosemite National Park to the peak of 14,496-foot Mount Whitney. Along the way you'll pass through the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness areas, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Park. Need we say more? Read more...

Second Place: Gregory Bald (Tennessee/North Carolina)

The lone dayhike that made it into our finals, an 11.3-mile hike up Gregory Bald offers some of the best views in the Great Smoky Mountains. If you time your 4,949-foot summit correctly (think mid to late June), you're rewarded with acres of blooming azaleas that have been known to make day hikers burst into spontaneous renditions of "The Sound of Music." The blooms are so impressive that the British Museum of Natural History even paid a visit to collect samples. Read more

Third Place: The Long Trail (Vermont)

Vermont's 272-mile Long Trail holds the distinction of being the very first long-distance hiking trail in the United States. It follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains from Vermont's Massachusetts border to the Canadian border, coinciding with the Appalachian Trail for about 100 miles. Dozens of primitive shelters are available to backpackers, and you have nearly 200 miles of additional side trails to explore. Read more

Fourth Place: The Wonderland Trail (Washington State)

This 93-mile loop circumnavigates 14,411-foot Mount Rainier; some say completing the loop, which involves more than 20,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, is harder than hiking straight up to the mountain's summit. Two food caches are recommended (they must be packaged in rodent-proof containers), and you must have a backcountry permit. The reward? Stunning views of old-growth forests, berries, flowers, and wildlife. Read more

Fifth Place: The North Country Trail (New York to North Dakota)

The 4,600-mile North Country Trail is the United States' longest National Scenic Trail. It runs from New York to North Dakota, ultimately covering 7 states, 10 national forests, and 150+ other public lands. Some shelters are available, but there are plenty of backcountry campsites to choose from also. Most of the North Country Trail is hiker-friendly; only a few sections are open to horses and bicycles. Read more

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